“Look at life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror.” -Byrd Baggett
Who’s ready for a road trip? Labor Day is rapidly approaching and September 5th will be here before we know it. End of summer is the perfect time for a road trip getaway: not too hot, not too cold, windows down, and music up. Take a long weekend since Labor Day is on a Monday or just do a day. Any way you do a road trip is the right way, but I’ve curated a list of tips and activities over my many thousands of road trip miles to help you plan the best Labor Day road trip possible.
What Do I Do in the Car?
- Make a playlist of your favorite songs to listen to. If you’re with others and feel generous, make a play list of their favorite songs.
- Local radio stations are fun; you may also find local attractions or events.
- Listen to an audiobook.
- Get to those podcasts you haven’t had time to listen to.
- Play a classic road trip game: 20 Questions, I Spy, or the license plate game.
What Do I Do on a Road Trip?
- Stop and experience the sunsets. Get out of your car and really enjoy them.
- If you live in a city like I do, enjoy the stars without city lights. Grab some takeout and have a late dinner under the stars.
- Picnic in a park you’ve “discovered.”
- Eat from a local mom and pop diner or restaurant. (If you find homemade, frozen custard, let me know.)
- Document in a fun, creative way. Take pictures or video every time you stop with a road or town sign, pick and dry local flowers, make a road trip blog, buy a small souvenir at each place you stop, or maintain a road trip journal for your own keepsake.
- Camp. You might need to reserve a spot ahead of time, but enjoy nature wherever you end up.
- Catch up with the people road tripping with you. Sounds silly, but life is so fast we often don’t have the time.
- Here’s a great site to help you plan your road trip that can be synced with your phone.
- Pro tip: ask a local what’s amazing to do, see, eat, or visit in their town.
How Do I Prepare for a Road Trip?
- Know your timeframe. One day, two days, or three days?
- Plan out a few adventures ahead of time. They’ll act as your line of travel. The world’s biggest ball of yarn is only two hours away from a great farmer’s market? Great! Two attractions to hit.
- Sleeping arrangements. Do you need a hotel, bed and breakfast, or a campsite? It’s possible to do all three if you plan it right.
- Snacks. You need snacks. Pro tip: the saltier and/or dryer the snack (think: potato chips), the more you’ll need to hydrate. Meaning, you’ll have to stop a lot for bathroom breaks. My favorite road trip snack for portability and cleanliness is licorice. It won’t make you thirsty and there’s no mess.
- Make sure your vehicle is good for travel: oil change, windshield wiper fluid, full tank of gas, air in your tires, and GPS at the ready.
- Clean the inside of your vehicle so it’s ready to go.
- Wear comfy clothes in the car. Bring a pillow or blanket if you’re a passenger or switching off driving duties.
- Pack your vehicle with essentials: Kleenex, water, snacks, music, a spare credit card for emergencies, some cash and coins for toll roads, license and insurance card (seems obvious, but…), pillows, camera and/phone, charging cables for phones, blankets, GPS and/or maps, and whatever else will make your trip fun and relaxing.
- Check out reviews of attractions, shows, museums, parks, and/or restaurants of destinations you’re heading to. Find some local things you’re interested in seeing or doing.
“Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take.” -Angela N. Blount