Avoid Small Towns on Sundays and Other Ways to Make Your Trip Better

If you’ve been looking at summer vacation flights recently, you might agree with my sentiment that 2022 will be the year of road travel. It turns out that high fuel costs, labor shortages and rising inflation are not the best recipe for affordable air travel. Done right, road trips can be a great opportunity to see large sections of the country in one fell swoop. However, when done poorly, road trips can be horribly tiring. These tips will help you succeed on your next road trip.

Rent a van instead of using your car. Renting a minibus instead of a car is a gift that never ceases to give. First, you will have more space, which is paramount for a trip. Secondly, you do not need to take care of car maintenance (oil change, etc.) before leaving, because this is the responsibility of the rental company. Thirdly, even though these are additional costs, you will not increase the wear and tear on your personal car, which means that the money will be well spent. Finally, rental vans usually have more gas tanks than regular cars, allowing you to stop less frequently if that’s your prerogative.

Budget car wash. You are about to embark on a long journey in a very limited space; it is in your best interest to keep this space in good condition. Make sure you clear the car of wrappers and other debris at every pit stop, and whenever possible try not to eat hot food in the car (you don’t want the smell to linger). If your trip is longer than seven days, it might even be worth scheduling a trip to the car wash for interior cleaning (unless you want to do it yourself, in which case we’ve got you covered ).

Avoid small towns on Sundays. Part of the joy of road trips is being able to see some of America’s sleepy little towns that have never been shown on the big screen. The only problem is that these small towns tend to close on Sundays so make sure you plan accordingly. It would be a shame if you had to eat at McDonald’s because you didn’t know the famous local eatery was closed.

Bring healthy snacks. I’m not trying to be a curmudgeon. I understand that part of the fun of the trip is to run into the store at the gas station and buy chips, candy and soda. Having said that, it’s a good idea to mix in a decent dose of healthy snacks as well. It is not uncommon for people to have intestinal problems on the road ; you don’t want to contribute to your own suffering.

Bring gum. When you sit in your car for hours, at some point you will probably start to feel disgusting. A shower stop is probably out of the question, but one tiny way to freshen up is to put on a piece of chewing gum. I know it’s not much, but you should take small wins where you can get them. Just make sure you don’t swallow it .

Do not overtighten the extension cord. It’s tempting to follow the old “rule of music who drives, chooses the music,” but may I suggest abandoning that convention in favor of a more democratic division of musical privilege? One of the great things about traveling with friends is that through the sheer amount of unstructured time spent together, you get to see sides of them that you wouldn’t normally see. One way to prove themselves is to see what kind of music they prefer to play. Think of it as the start of a conversation about travel.

Clean your house before leaving. “Wow, wow, wow. Do you want me to clean my car and my house?” Yes. Road trips have a way of sucking the life out of you that a regular vacation can’t. You don’t want to come home with a fully loaded dishwasher and an unmade bed. Spend some time cleaning your house before you travel; you will thank yourself immediately upon your return.

Pack a paper card. As you travel to more remote regions of the country, your cellular service deteriorates. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to get your hands on a paper map of your route if you find yourself unable to rely on technology. You can also download routes from Google Maps in advance.

Do not overdo it. In practice, ten or twelve hours in a row in a car seems tedious, but ultimately doable. It’s actually incredibly annoying. When planning a road trip, you might be tempted to set aside a few days of 12+ hours to get from point A to point B, but do your best to resist the urge. You don’t want to overestimate how many hours you can realistically spend in a car and force yourself to make an unscheduled overnight stop.

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