10 Road Trip Hacks That Will Save Your Sanity

Road Trip Hacks

There’s something so special about a road trip. Seeing the country by car is a relaxing, eye-opening experience that’s a pastime as much as a necessity. From gorgeous coastal roads to sweat-inducing mountain passes, the country’s highways and byways afford splendid views you simply wouldn’t get with any other mode of transportation.

But we all know that road trips aren’t all dreamy vistas and joyful cruising. The reality is that they can be stressful, tiring and boring, especially for the little ones who can’t sit still for very long. Luckily, there are a few great things you can do to keep the romance in your next road trip, and we’ve highlighted them all below.

1. Keep Your Devices Powered

When you’re relying on your phone for music, navigation and more, you’re going to need a high-quality car charger to make sure it doesn’t die. If you’ve got the kids playing video games or watching tablets, you might also want to invest in a car power inverter that comes with multiple ports so you can plug in all your tech. These feature regular AC outlets, so you could set up video game consoles and more for the kids.

2. Bring an Atlas and Download Digital Maps

On long trips, entering dead service zones is pretty much inevitable, even on major highways, so don’t rely on service-dependent navigation. In addition to a paper road atlas, you should also consider downloading the map area on your phone so that you have it offline. Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps all offer this feature and it’s pretty straightforward to use.

3. Get Creative with Entertainment

Car Entertainment

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These days, the idea of going on a long trip without a phone packed with media sounds downright disturbing, but there’s more to the story than just podcasts and playlists. Consider using the time to listen to audiobooks or learn a new language. Make sure to download everything, including music, podcasts and video, so you can access it even in low-service zones. You might also consider temporarily signing up for premium services that let you download and access data offline, such as YouTube Premium and Spotify Premium.

4. Build in Extra Time and Take Breaks

When you plug your route into your GPS and see the estimated time of arrival, be sure to calculate time for rest stops, bathroom breaks and meals. While everyone travels at their own pace, a good rule of thumb is to take a 15-minute break every two or three hours.

5. Make Your Rest Stops Count

Think about fun ways to spice up your breaks. Don’t get us wrong — we love typical highway rest stops as much as the next traveler, and they can be pretty entertaining themselves. But there is a surprising number of fun, educational and even quirky (looking at you, South of the Border) stops right off the highway to help you shake things up. When planning your route before you depart, look at the map and find interesting places to stop that are a bit off the beaten highway. Parks, scenic overlooks and local restaurants make great rest stops.

6. Drive During the Day

Nighttime driving is occasionally necessary if you’re traveling far and are under a time crunch, but it’s best to spend your time on the road when the sun is up. Not only will this make the drive a little bit safer because you can see better and are less likely to get drowsy, but it will also allow you to take in all the sights as you travel. If you must go more than eight hours in a day, consider getting up at sunrise so you can take advantage of every minute of sunlight.

7. Travel with an Emergency Kit

A car emergency kit is one of those things we should all have but hope to never use. Be sure it’s packed with all the essentials, including flares, an emergency blanket, matches, a flashlight, water and some basic tools. We also recommend investing in a car jump starter that will easily jump start your vehicle without the need for another car. In the same vein, make sure you have a spare tire that’s in good condition as well as the necessary tools and skills to change a flat.

8. Get a Tune-Up Before

Tune-Up

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It’s a good idea to have a professional look over your vehicle before heading out on a long trip. They will be able to inspect the brakes, tires, electrical system, etc. to ensure that they’re in good working order. The last thing you’d ever want is to break down or have your car malfunction while you’re far from home. You should also consider getting an oil change, topping off all fluids and upgrading your windshield wipers before a long drive.

9. Keep the Car Clean

Cleaning your car is a simple way to make your road trip more enjoyable. Before you leave, give it a deep clean and add some new air fresheners to create an inviting ambiance. You might also consider keeping a small trash bag in the car to accumulate trash. While you’re driving, be sure to empty out all trash every single time you get gas or stop at a rest stop.

10. Eat Car-Friendly Foods

Another great way to keep your car clean is to keep the dining to self-contained, handheld foods that won’t drip, spill or cause a mess all over the car. Some of the best road trip foods include beef jerky, protein bars, carrots, string cheese and grapes. If you can’t resist the fries, nuggets and dipping sauces (hey, we don’t blame you), consider installing an in-car sauce holder that clips onto your car’s air conditioning vents. Brilliant, right?

Whether you adore them or dread them, the road trip is one of the best ways to see the country and travel. The next time you head out on a big adventure, make sure to keep the above tips in mind so every mile is more enjoyable than the last.

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