Ok, so far I’ve covered how to plan, budget, recruit good copilots (or fly solo) and pack your car for a sweet all-American road trip. Here are a few miscellaneous tips and tricks I have picked up during the last 6 years living on the road:
1. Cover your clock. Time passes so much more enjoyably when you’re not watching each moment tick by. I apply this rule to my everyday life – I live with no visible clocks or watches – and have found it’s impossible to be bored when you’re not worried about how many minutes you have in the day.
2. Post-it note your route. Each morning consult your Adventure Atlas and write your route down on a post-it note and stick it to your dashboard. This is a lot easier and safer than pulling over all the time to check your map or (danger!) trying to read the map while driving. Post-it noting your route comes in handy especially when you’re taking a lot of backcountry roads, which tend to frequently intersect and change names and route numbers.
3. Don’t drive after dark. The point of a road trip is to see more of the world and you can’t see the world if it’s dark. Ideally, plan to stop late afternoon in time to set up camp, go for a hike, and find a place to watch the sunset.
4. Get up with the Sun. My favorite moments on the road are when I wake up in the grey light before dawn and my first thoughts are where will I get to go today?! That surge of exploratory excitement is usually enough to get me up and out of the tent in time to catch the sunrise, always a great way to start the day.
5. Don’t drive drowsy: take naps and Nodoz when necessary! Sometimes the road just lulls you to sleep and driving drowsy is dangerous. I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks and the costs of both can really add up on a road trip, so I keep a bottle of NoDoz in the car. One pill contains 200 mg of caffeine, about the same as a cup of coffee. Yeah, it’s probably not the best thing in the world for you, but half a pill now and then is better than nodding off and crossing that double yellow line.
6. Turn off the GPS and learn to read a map. Map reading is a learned skill that takes practice. The more you do it the better you’ll get at navigating from here to there. The goal is to eventually be able to grab your atlas and hit the road, confident in your abilities to go anywhere and everywhere you please.
Anybody out there have any other suggestions? Stay tuned for future posts on getting your car road trip ready, road tripping with dogs and how to keep an efficient kitchen in your trunk. Also check out my previous posts on rules of the road trip, planning a route, financing a trip, choosing a copilot and packing your car.