Going On A Road Trip? Remember These Things

by Ashley Wilson

Road trips are a dying art, but it still requires certain things for it to be done right. Read on to find out more.

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Photo credits from: Dino Reichmuth (https://unsplash.com/photos/A5rCN8626Ck)

With air travel becoming more and more affordable these days, the idea of going on a road trip is fast becoming a relic of the past. While statistics show that plenty of Americans still ply our nation’s highways, not many go on those epic, cross-country road trips of our youth.

And, to me, that seems a bit of a waste. We’ve talked about the kind of life lessons you learn while riding a motorcycle cross-country, but a classic road trip gives you an experience unlike any other, especially if you’re travelling with friends or family. There’s just something about beholding the majesty of our great country in the company of people you love, and the stories you tell each other to pass the time on those long, seemingly endless, stretches of highway between one natural wonder and another.

But enough about me waxing poetic, let’s talk about brass tacks: sure, a great American road trip sounds romantic and fun, but in this day and age, a lot of millennials didn’t grow up knowing about some basic road trip essentials. Here are some things to remember:

Always Inspect Your BLOWBAG

No, BLOWBAG is not a part of your car. It’s an acronym for: Brakes, Lights, Oil, Water, Battery, Air, Gas. It’s all the things you need to inspect right before any road trip. Back in the day, we used to inspect pretty much everything ourselves: brake fluid levels, battery and lights, oil levels, water levels, tire pressure, how much gas is in the tank, etc.

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Photo credits from: Tim Mossholder (https://unsplash.com/photos/V37iTrYZz2E)

Nowadays, you have certified mechanics who can do this for you, and probably do it better than you can. Make sure they also inspect your engine control unity, and it wouldn’t hurt to have them inspect every inch of your auto glass to make sure there are no bumps, scratches, or cracks.

Plan Out As Much As You Can

I get it: spontaneity is the spice of life, but with the continental United States having over 3 million square miles, there’s plenty of room for your car to conk out, or for you to run out of gas, or get a flat tire, or any of the things that could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

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Photo credits from: Sebastian Hietsch (https://unsplash.com/photos/RUJYUXwj3s0)

In the internet age, real-time traffic updates can help you adapt your route quickly, avoiding traffic jams, road closures, and other inconveniences. Along the way, make sure you estimate how long you’ll be driving per day so that you can figure out how far the next pit stop is or how far your next hotel is. Speaking of hotels, it’s always best to plan out where you’re going to be crashing for the night. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen my fair share of slasher movies to know that roadside motels are pretty much a magnet for all sorts of weirdos!

Avoid the Interstate and Check Out the “Blue” Highways

“Blue Highways” are a reference to a William Least Heat-Moon novel that chronicles his 3-month long, 13,000 mile road trip around the United States. Blue Highways is what he called almost-forgotten, poorly maintained, provincial back roads that made up for its dilapidated state with superb views, interesting towns, and local flavor.

Arguably, the “soul” of America is in these blue highways: this is where you’ll see a distinctly unique American culture that is unlike anywhere else in the world, one that is rich in history, people, food, music, and stories. If you’re not in a rush, and no self-respecting road trip would be in a rush, you’ll definitely want to travel these blue highways as much as possible.


Photo credits from: A. L. (https://unsplash.com/photos/moheR9rdRGY)

Of course, not all of these blue highways are interesting: a lot of them are actually just mass-produced, planned-out communities with generic buildings all around. Do your research to find the more unique blue highways out there.

Sure, Interstate highways will take you from point A to point B in the fastest way possible, but haven’t you heard that the journey is so much better than the destination?

Keep All Necessary Documents at Hand

Whether it’s insurance information, car registration, heck, you can even have photocopies of your birth certificate and passport, always have updated documents on hand, especially if you’re just borrowing the vehicle you’ll be road tripping in.

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Photo credits from: Kelly Sikkema (https://unsplash.com/photos/-NY2yXT2EOE)

And, of course, it should go without saying that your license should be valid and nowhere near its expiration date. While I’m not saying that you’ll run afoul of the law, it’s always best to be prepared for all types of situations.

Have Fun!

Photo credits from: Averie Woodard (https://unsplash.com/photos/5d20kdvFCfA)

At the end of the day, a road trip is all about bonding with your friends and family, and seeing the wonders of our country, both natural and man-made. Don’t stress too much about anything and take whatever happens in stride. You’ll be surprised at how much fun and enlightening it is to spend months in a cramped space with people you love!