Taking a road trip is perfect if you like traveling to new places and don't mind lengthy car rides, but here's a few suggestions to make sure your next road trip is an enjoyable one:
Have a Plan
It's nice to be spontaneous once in a while, but when you're dealing with unfamiliar territories, you might as well be prepared. Plan ahead of time when a perfect week for a road trip would be. Give yourself and your friends enough time to take time off from work if needed, or to clear their schedule in advance.
Know where you're going
Spontaneity will get you nowhere but lost. Have an idea of where you want to go. Once you have that in mind, you can then figure out the directions, places you'd want to stay, restaurants in the area, etc. It doesn't help to drive from New York to Georgia without having done any prior research on the town you're headed. GPS systems are really helpful, but it can only do so much. Gain some knowledge about where you're going first, before deciding to rely solely on a GPS.
Avoid "bad" company
If you didn't know, "bad" company on a road trip can go numerous ways. Here's a list, so you'll know what to avoid:
- Bad company 1: The complainers. They're constantly unsatisfied and complaining throughout the entire trip. Are we there yet?... Why are you driving so fast/slow?... Why can't we go somewhere else for lunch?... Why do I have to contribute to gas, if it's not my car?... You get the point.
- Bad company 2: The chatterboxes. This group loves to talk. Don't get me wrong, talking and laughter are essential elements of any successful road trip, but the chatterboxes are non-stop. Sometimes you, as a driver, just needs a chance to gather your own thoughts, or listen to the music and sing along with the others, or maybe just to be given a chance to speak once!
- Bad company 3: The Humdrums. Imagine yourself on your first road trip with friends and are giddy with excitement. Now, imagine that you are the only one showing excitement for the entire x hours. Talk about boredom and the desire to take the next exit home! When on a road trip, it's a time to be excited, loud and have fun. If you surround yourself with a group that plans on reading reading the entire "Hunger Games" saga on the way, you can throw excitement out the window. Bring charismatic friends who like to have a good time.
- Bad company 4: All others. Whether it's hygiene that needs to be improved or someone who gets car sick easily, there are a lot of things to look out for when choosing the right company for your road trip. Don't rush; think it through! The trip is meant to be fun, not a drag.
Side Note: If you're tempted to go on a road trip solo, at least try it out with one other friend or a close sibling. Seriously, it can get pretty lonely and uninteresting if there's no one else in the vehicle with you.
Include another licensed driver in the mix
Don't forget to have at least one other licensed driver in the car. If your stuck being the dominant driver, you might miss out on parts of the fun that goes on in the car. Sure, a driver can fun too, but he/she will be more focused on the road and the GPS directions that it can be easy to forget that the fun includes him/her too! Not only that, but we're only human and no matter how much we love driving, everyone needs a little break. Having someone take over after a few hours, or alternating between several responsible drivers will make the experience less strenuous on your part.
Silence is bound to happen on a long drive (unless you invited a chatterbox), so having good music is a must. One good song will help rekindle the energy that was originally in the atmosphere. The radio is great, but you can't control the songs that are played, so when the stations start to get repetitive, it's good to have an iPod or CD on deck with some upbeat music. It's also a great idea to throw in some old school jams to get everyone in the car holding an imaginary microphone and singing their hearts out.
Bring enough cash
"Cash" in this context literally means cash. As much as you hold your debit or credit card dear, it's never a wise idea to go anywhere without tangible cash on you. You may come across a gas station in an unknown town that only accepts cash, for example, so it's always a great idea to bring some good ol' 1s, 5s, 10s and 20s... and enough of it in case of emergencies.
Have a spare
Planning a road trip isn't just about hopping in a car filled with friends and loud music and speeding off to the desired location, but it's about gas, mileage, rest stops, food and necessities needed. It's exciting planning a road trip, but when the driving and all financial burden is resting on you alone, it's definitely not so fun anymore.
If the trip consists of you and four friends, ask your buddies to pitch in--whether it's gas money or snacks for the ride, every little bit helps. Maybe Friend 1 can look up a nice, inexpensive hotel in the destination area, Friend 2 can determine the best route for you to drive, Friend 3 can make the mixes on a CD or in his/her iPod playlist for the journey, and Friend 4 can help with budgeting and making sure you all are good to go.
REST before the big trip
Yes, I said it, my fellow night owls... REST. There's nothing worse than feeling the lack of motivation to go on a trip that's supposed to be exciting! Get enough sleep the night before, so you don't wake up irritable and groggy, due to a long night of preparations. Once you're up, you'll feel refreshed and ready to go!
WHY take a road trip?
Because it's not only FUN and EXCITING, but an opportunity to visit a new place (or places) with people you care most about. It's great for any time of the year and you'll learn a lot about your friends and even more about yourself. After the trip, you will know if a trip like this is something you'd want to do again, and if with the same group of people!