Next week I embark on a road trip to Nashville, Tennessee, where I'm looking forward to eating my way through the city. It will take about 36 hours roundtrip. I'll definitely be writing about my adventure once I'm back but I thought this would be a great opportunity to talk about the ins and outs of a long car trip.
My trek to Nashville won't be my first automobile-bound journey. I've driven from Canada to the US along the eastern seaboard more times than I can count, and I made a six-day round-trip road trip with my husband from Montreal to Baton Rouge. I've also made the long voyage of driving across Canada. And if there's one thing I've learned after so much mileage it's this: plan accordingly and your road trip can be a lot of fun, but hit the highway in a hurry and you could run into some problems.
While road trips of years past were planned mostly on paper maps, GPS systems make road travel a lot easier… you can find specific points of interest along the way and no longer have to fear making a wrong turn in a foreign place and getting lost for hours. However, you should still take the time to look at a map (either hardcopy or online) to see the general route you'll be taking so there are no unwanted surprises. You should also keep an eye on weather reports so you can prepare for what lies ahead (like torrential rain, snow, etc.).
Packing good snacks is key to a successful road trip – rely solely on fast food and your body (i.e., your digestive system) may turn on you. Bring lots of bottled water, fresh fruit, mixed nuts, wholesome granola bars, and a few sandwiches. Try and avoid the temptation of gorging on bags of chips and greasy roadside fast food.
Have a bag with ample "activities," including everything from loads of great music on an iPod as well as a camera and movies on a laptop to books, magazines, a deck of cards, and more. When you hit a state like Idaho and there's not much to take in scenery-wise, you'll be glad you thought ahead and stashed some of your favourite rainy-day hobbies into a travel bag.
Make pit stops. You want to get to your destination but if you don't take those few-minute breaks to stretch, relieve yourself and just focus on something other than the road, you'll probably arrive feeling overtired and cranky. Three ten-minute stops is worth arriving that half hour later.