Mastering The Road Trip

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Fall is a beautiful season to hit the open road and see the sights on an incredible road trip. Any reason to get out of town is a good one, whether you want to see the beautiful fall colors or hit some haunted hot spots, so we decided to provide you with some helpful tips to maximize your mileage with fun.

GEAR

Take a page from the Boy Scouts of America and always “Be Prepared” by keeping the following in your car at all times:

First Aid Kit – it doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it should contain sanitary wipes (don’t go raiding a KFC for free wet-naps), a variety of bandage sizes, gauze pads, painkillers (ibuprofen or aspirin), antibiotic ointment, and tweezers. It’s also a good idea to keep a pair of nail clippers in the car, just in case.

Jumper Cables – self-sufficiency is your friend, so don’t count on a helpful stranger to have cables of their own. Get your own set and keep them in the trunk. You may only ever need them once, but you’ll be glad you had them when you do. Also, having your own set of cables means you get to be someone’s hero when they need a jump!

Blankets and Bags – a spare blanket (even an emergency blanket) can save your life should you ever become stranded. You don’t need anything fancy (leave the duvet on your bed), but you do need something. And a handful of trash bags, rolled up together, take up almost no space and give you a place to store muddy/dirty shoes and clothes (should your adventure get a little rough). They also make handy raincoats in a pinch!

Chargers – this one’s obvious. Keep your phone, tablet, GPS, DVD player, or whatever else charged and active. If you’ve got all of the above, consider a multi-charger to keep everything powered all at once.

And the rest – not just for road trips, but you should always keep a flashlight, pens, paper (notepad), and a multi-tool in the car at all times. That’s just common safety sense. None of the above is expensive or takes up much space, so you don’t have any excuse for going without.

SNACKS

This one’s a matter of personal preference, of course, but you’ll want to keep a few things in mind…

Easy to eat – driving and using a knife and fork isn’t safe by any stretch of the imagination, and trying to get leverage with either from the passenger seats isn’t all that viable, either. Keep your snacks to easily-accessible finger-foods so you can keep your concentration on the road where it belongs.

Temperature – creamy drinks aren’t going to last long in a hot car and they’re only going to get thicker as they reach room temperature, so skip the chocolate milk and the like. Carbonated beverages can go flat, so think twice about sodas, too. Your best bets are going to be sports drinks and teas, if you want something with flavor. Of course, you’ll never go wrong with bottled water, so if you can’t make up your mind, just grab a bottle of good old H20.

Bathrooms – rest areas along US freeways are typically around 50 miles apart, which means you can count on about an hour between places to stop. Keep this in mind when picking out your snacks to keep yourself and your passengers comfortable during the trip.

ENTERTAINMENT

Podcasts – with the popularity of the podcast skyrocketing, we’re experiencing a second golden age of radio…it’s just on the internet. You can get educated, get entertained, get scared…the possibilities are endless.

Games – a great way to keep everybody entertained is to get everybody involved. Playing the License Plate Game or telling riddles is always a popular choice, but we like the movie version of Six Degrees of Separation; one person names two actors, and the other players have to connect them through movies and co-stars. Try to do it in as few steps as possible, but more important is just connecting them. So, for example, if someone said “Jim Carrey” and “Michael J. Fox” you could say:

Jim Carrey and Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty

…Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption

…Tim Robbins and Lea Thompson in Howard the Duck

…Lea Thompson and Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.

Playlists – you can always make your own, of course, and nobody’s going to know your favorite road tunes better than you, but why not take advantage of the open road to discover something new? Outside of the obvious Pandora and Spotify, hit up The Art of the Mix, where users create playlists based around themes or ideas or stories and share them with the world.

Wherever the road takes you, have fun getting there (and getting there safely). Next time we’ll talk about the top trips to take around the continental US, so you have places to go once you’ve gotten your gear together!

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