Few experiences evoke a feeling of nostalgia like a summertime road trip of epic proportions. Toss in some amazing friends (especially those assigned to DJ or snack-master roles), family (yes, even the kids who ask if you’re there yet every five minutes), and a road trip can be a memorable life event. Traveling long distances by car is really part of our American culture. It’s a right of passage to take your first road trip as a licensed driver sans parental oversight. And it’s an amazing way to see our country from coast-to-coast.
So, what makes the best summer road trip? These are the items we wouldn’t leave home without:
Invest in a pair of high-quality sunglasses that protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Not only will you look cooler cruising down the highway, but you’ll also be able to see more clearly without the blinding combination of a concrete highway and cloudless sky.
Supportive Driving Shoes
Foot comfort is key when traipsing across several states in one sitting. Avoid wearing non-supportive shoes like flip-flops; these can prevent your foot from accurately sensing or responding to the accelerator and brake, and they can easily fall off of your foot. For safety purposes, it’s probably a good idea to wear close-toed shoes for all long-distance treks. With so many fashionable sneakers on the market, it shouldn’t be hard for guys or gals to find a pair that suits their style.
Just like when traveling by airplane, it’s important to wear clothing that’s breathable and comfortable for the long haul. Skinny jeans don’t make the best companion for lengthy drives. For the ladies, pair athletic pants and fun sneakers with a loose-fitting top. The dudes have a few more options for comfort; they could wear anything from khakis to cords to a pair of gym pants.
Hate stopping every hour or two? One way to keep the car in motion is to take the most fuel-efficient car that fits you, your companions and all of your stuff so you don’t have to make as many pit stops for fuel.
Don’t have a car already fitted with roadside assistance technology? No problem. There’s actually a great aftermarket product called hum by Verizon that works to make cars smarter and safer through its roadside assistance and vehicle diagnostics features. It’ll track your trips and alert you to any maintenance issues it detects through your car’s OBD II port (usually found beneath the dash to the left of your steering wheel). There’s also a mechanics hotline and emergency assistance. It’s a subscription service, but if you’re driving an older vehicle that’s not equipped with Bluetooth or other newer driver safety features (hum works in most 1996 and newer car models), then it’s well worth the investment. Plus, it could be used to track your teen drivers. Not that you would ever do that…
Great Tunes at the Tip of Your Fingers
Who doesn’t love striking up their own version of Carpool Karaoke when rolling down the open road? SiriusXM Satellite Radio is one the best ways to have the tunes you want from every decade and genre possible. But if you don’t have a subscription or capability for SiriusXM, then hook up your smartphone to your car and stream Pandora or Spotify. Most cars today have the capability to connect smartphones through Bluetooth or even the charging cord.
Plenty of Water to Stay Hydrated
Be warned that providing plenty of drinking water may lead to more pit stops, but it’s important to stay hydrated on the road, especially if snacking on salty, savory treats. We like buying a big bottle or two of water with the flip caps so it’s easier to sip without having to unscrew the top. Any water will do – but if you’re buying bottled water, check out smart water by Glaceau that has added electrolytes that help with hydration.
Speaking of snacks; it can be terribly challenging to find healthy food along the highway. We’re not saying we’ve never stopped for fast food (like every time we pass our favorite chicken & biscuits place, Bojangles’) on a road trip. Heck, that’s part of the fun, right? But if your excursion takes you well beyond the tastiest of quick-bite establishments, you’ll want to have some snacks of your own. We like to pack a mix of savory and sweet snacks so that everyone’s cravings can be satisfied. This tackle box / jewelry box travel snack pack is pure genius.
If you’re traveling home from mom’s or grandma’s house, then you will most certainly be carrying some delicious loot. Leftovers are the perfect return-trip snack, especially if those leftovers were prepared with love. You’ve gotta keep those scrumptious bites fresh in a travel-size cooler. This is also a great way to keep sodas or fruit juice cold no matter how hot it is outside.
Perhaps most importantly, you need to recruit some awesome companions for this journey. Copilots who can help keep the energy up are crucial. And if you have a few more people to carry on a conversation, then great. Make sure to assign roles for DJ’ing and Snackmaster so that the driver can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.