Recently, I decided to drive home from Lawrence, Kansas to Atlanta, Georgia. To give you some context, I’d never completed a road trip over three hours by myself, but for some reason, I was extremely confident in my ability to drive half a day.
I had wanted to make this trip ever since my dad drove 12 hours and 30 minutes to drop off my car and a few other things as I settled into my new school last August. (If you don’t know, I go to the University of Kansas, and I’m a graduate student.) I was so appreciative that he gave up his weekend to bring me my things that I was determined not to make him or my mom have to do that again.
You see, my parents helped me move out after graduating from the University of Virginia. While I really appreciated it, I didn’t think that was necessary this time. I had far fewer things and didn’t think they needed to spend their weekend driving up to Kansas to meet me and then back down to Georgia with all of my stuff. Also, a solo road trip was on my 2017 bucket list/resolutions, and this was my opportunity!
This process was an interesting one considering it wasn’t just a road trip, I was moving. Nonetheless, I learned some pretty interesting lessons along the way, and have some tips to share as you prepare for your next road trip.
This goes without saying but yes, you will get hungry and stopping every hour or two can really delay your travel. I like to knock out as much of the trip as I can and only stop for gas. While stopped for gas, I can get food at a local eatery and use the restroom. Outside of that, I’m not stopping.
But if you know me at all, you know I like to snack. I decided to pack my favorite healthy bars (jimmy bars), trail mix, and fruit. I also packed a gallon of water. I know it might sound contradictory… pack a lot of water but don’t use the restroom? Well, you still have to stay hydrated my friends. The gallon of water I packed came in handy as I would have run out of water within the first few hours if I used my Swell water bottle.
Playlists and Podcasts
The radio sucks when you’re driving across the country (unless you have XM radio) and when you’re going solo, you don’t have anyone in the passenger’s seat to keep you engaged and focused on the drive. This is where Spotify comes in.
Yes, you can easily use iTunes, but I prefer Spotify because I can make my own playlists, and when I’m tired of them, I can listen to someone else’s. With that said, finding a few good Spotify playlists before you take off is a must.
I also recommend podcasts and audiobooks, but I didn’t really use them for my ride. What helped me the most was a playlist I put together of old songs from middle school, high school, and the first two years of undergrad. I blasted the songs, knew all of the words, I sang along at the top of my lungs, and gave a car concert performance for anyone who drove past me and dared to look in my direction.
Pro tip: Spotify Premium is a must on road trips. That guarantees no commercials, and trust me, the commercial will kill your vibe. If you’re a student, you can get Spotify for $4.99 a month. It’s worth it!
Hotel Tonight app
While I didn’t use this app, it could definitely come in handy if you need to stop and get some sleep during your drive. Hotel Tonight is an app where they post local hotels that have open rooms for the night. The prices are discounted and relatively cheap because the hotel would rather have people stay there and make some money than none at all.
Pro tip: The earlier in the afternoon you can book the more options you have and the better your price.
Packing your car
For most road trips you won’t have to pack your car to the brim, but I did since I was moving my life to a different state. My biggest lesson learned was if you are putting things in your passenger’s seat, buckle the seatbelt before doing so. I didn’t do that and found out the hard way that the annoying (but lifesaving) ringing/beeping noise cars makes to remind you to buckle up will go off, and it will last a little while. While most cars are smart enough to stop the noise after a while, just avoid it all together by buckling the seatbelt before you stack heavy items onto your passenger’s seat. You will thank yourself for this later!
I hope you found these road trips tips helpful and that your upcoming road trips go smoothly. Leave a comment below with any road trip tips you have or lessons you learned the hard way after traveling. I know I have quite a few.
Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life.