How to Have the Road Trip of a Lifetime

Why not make your next vacation a road one? Here are a few essential tips and apps to make the ride a smooth one.


Conversation Starters

Excitement and music may get you through the first few day, but you can prepare for inevitable conversation lulls by bringing along a few ice-breaking activities. For example, try conversation-starter cards made by funny-girl Mindy Kaling to ensure hours of girl-time gabbing.

Making Memories

All you need is each other to make memories. But, it doesn’t hurt to have something to record them along the way. Don’t forget to pack must-have items like a journal and pen, address book (so you can easily send postcards from each destination) and camera. Capture every moment with a GoPro mounted to the rear view mirror or planted in the sand when you stop to relax on the beach.

Of course you also can take plenty of selfies and use a group hashtag to let others follow your adventures. Consider downloading a picture-pretty photo filter app like A Beautiful Mess to personalize all of your photos.

How to Have the Road Trip of a Lifetime

A road trip is an adventure you’ll remember for a lifetime

Expect the Unexpected

As Sal and Dean found out during the book, even the best-planned road trip will never go completely as expected. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay. With this in mind, plan on a variety of little annoyances and delays to pop up during your trip. This mindset will help keep you on an even keel. Also, just because things like road construction, detours, headaches and flat tires may throw a wrench into your plans, this doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for at least some of the delays.

Although there will be plenty of pit stops along the way, you don’t want to find yourself empty handed and in a pickle without a city in sight. Be sure your car is well-tuned and you have at least one spare tire in the trunk. Carry a well-stocked first-aid kit filled with plenty of Band-Aids and Advil. Before you leave, gather the girls and make an emergency kit. In addition to the obvious items—a spare tire, AAA card, flashlight and an actual paper map—use small plastic tubs to collect the often forgotten essentials for the trunk. Some necessities include:

  • Several water bottles (about 2 liters per person)
  • Blankets and sweatshirts
  • A portable cell phone charger and one that plugs into your car
  • Flares
  • Pepper spray
  • Running shoes and socks
  • Hand sanitizer & tea tree oil
How to Have the Road Trip of a Lifetime

Don’t let this be you!

To be sure you don’t have any unexpected run-ins with Johnny Law, take some time to become familiar with the driving laws in each state you’ll be passing through. New York laws differ from California, for example. This will help you to be as safe as possible during your journey and avoid any unpleasant traffic tickets.

Even after hours of planning, you’ll likely find yourself lost or hours from you original destination at least once on the trip. Embrace it! Enjoy this time with your girls on the open road with just the radio on and the wind in your hair. You may even stumble upon something better than you imagined.

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 117 Comments

  1. Avatar of Jonathon Swift

    Jonathon Swift

    If you are thinking about gas stations, and restaurants along toll roads, some U.S. interstate toll roads, such as the Ohio, and Pennsylvania Turnpikes, do have gasoline stations, and restaurants directly on the freeway. You don’t have to exit the toll road and pay the tolls if you don’t want to do. There’s usually a bigger selection of gasoline stations and restaurants, and likely cheaper prices, off the toll road, especially at major intersections.

  2. Avatar of Maryann Smith

    Maryann Smith

    North America has had a big car culture since the 1950’s. Driving the open road is “the” experience, and that includes stopping in all the cheesy attractions along the way!!! Not my cup of tea, but you sure do make it sound fun 🙂

  3. Avatar of Jossen Row

    Jossen Row

    I always check the engine before going for a long trip. I also bring a spare tire, so whenever something happens on my tire, I have spare for it.

    • Avatar of Joe Root

      Joe Root

      You should always have a spare tire at the back of your car. It’s a must.

  4. Avatar of Jodi Thil

    Jodi Thil

    Let us hit the road now! I want to try these applications that Urbanette gave to us. What do you think? Are they worth downloading, or if they are paid apps, are they worth buying for?

  5. Avatar of Joss Butler

    Joss Butler

    I really want to do road trips, but the problem is I can’t stay awake for too long. I would be asleep in the middle of the trip.

  6. Avatar of Osana Smith

    Osana Smith

    Once I forgot to bring my hygiene travel kit, and the hotel doesn’t give complimentary hygiene kit. I have to buy it from a convenience store which is too far from the hotel. The lesson has been learned.

  7. Avatar of Candis Melton

    Candis Melton

    MY way of easing my stress is hitting the road with my love. Even if it’s just for a weekend. Simple, yet you are satisfied.

  8. Avatar of Steev Smith

    Steev Smith

    PackPoint is a great app. I am using it in my travels, and it gives me the right stuff I need on my trips. I am happy with it, so I suggest you download it.

  9. Avatar of Wilma Moore

    Wilma Moore

    I will test my boyfriend next week. I invited him to visit my mom in Boston, and he said that he will drive for me. I’m thinking of some tests on the road. Ha!

  10. Avatar of Josephine Murphy

    The longest trip that I ever had is the 8 hours drive. I am not the driver, I’m just a passenger because I would be exhausted in just a 2 hours drive, and what more on 8 hours, right?

    • Avatar of Helena Lowson

      Helena Lowson

      ALways think to relax and even take a nap if needed when you’re driving long distance. Every two hours is good, and remember to eat light but enough also 🙂

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