Summertime is travel time. It’s a lot of get out of town, take a break then come back home. Often we are so overwhelmed by our vacation — overplanned, overscheduled, overtired, overspent — we feel like we need a vacation from our vacation when we come home. We at Sleep Club think, however, there are ways to make summer travel easy, fun and everything you hoped for when you thought up your trip. In this 3-part series, we’ll share what we’ve learned in our own travels, starting with the ROAD TRIP.
Road Trip Love
There’s something incredibly immersive and bonding about a road trip. Maybe it’s that sense of freedom we feel whenever we load up the car, get behind the wheel and go wherever our tires take us. Could also be that we’re cooped up with everyone for a long period of time so what’re you gonna do — ignore each other? Regardless, it’s a way of vacationing that just feels like it was made for summer. And so here are 8 tips on road-tripping to make it the stuff of dreams.
Don’t over plan your stops
When we say “road trips,” we’re not just talking driving from Point A to Point B. A good road trip is an experience, a way to see whatever city, country, region you choose more intimately and, preferably, leisurely. These are also those car journeys you take when you’ve traveled to another country or state by plane, train, or boat, and decide to take in the local sites on your terms. While you certainly want to have some ideas of where you want to stop or sightseeing you’d like to get done, explore. Take in what the guidebooks say, sure, then ask the locals and go off the beaten path to discover what makes that area unique. It’s part of why this type of travel is so appealing.
Get out and walk around — a lot and often
No matter how comfy your vehicle is — and yes, we’re also talking sprinter vans and RVs — sitting for long periods of time while you’re driving or being driven takes its toll on your body. You need to get out, stretch those appendages, move your legs, get the blood circulating and the muscles working. It’s also a great way to sightsee those one-of-a-kind spots.
Sleep well, sleep comfortably — plan wisely
As you motor across distances, you want to be sure you stay awake and comfortably aware. Enjoy your drive and the places you go, see and stop. One of the best ways to ensure you aren’t stressed or relying heavily on energy drinks or, ya know, anything else to keep you alert is to get a good night’s rest or even stop frequently to relax and chill. Finding good accommodations along your journey is one of the most important things to really plan out in our humble opinion. Whether it’s an awesome glamp site, that perfectly cozy b&b, or a penthouse smack in the middle of the Vegas Strip, map out your nesting sites and allow yourself to luxuriate in them to make the car ride and the time you spend exploring even better.
PRE-DRIVE CHECK YOUR CAR… PLEASE!
As you can tell, this is a big deal to us and you would think it’s a no brainer, but it isn’t. No matter how recently you had your car tuned up, tires checked, etc., there’s a giant difference between your daily commute and taking your vehicle across long, mixed terrain distances for extended periods of time. Beyond the obvious to make sure you don’t break down, however, it’s summer. Unless you’re kicking it on the roads of the Southern Hemisphere, heat and, in some cases, torrential rain — we’ll get to weather, hang on — will be along for the ride. Make sure your AC is beyond reproach, windshield wipers work so well you can’t even tell water is touching the glass, and your tires + spare are perfection. Also, bring along an emergency road kit or add it to your rental to make sure you’re covered.
Know the terrain and weather ahead of time
Remember our series on festivals and our prep for that? It goes double for road trips because you’re completely on your own out there no matter how many of you are traveling together. Take the time to learn the landscape, know the roads on your route and understand local customs. What’s the weather like? And what are the stops along the way? The gas or petrol stations, restaurants, stores, rest stops, how-tos and what not to do’s — all of the places and information you need that will help you should the situation arise.
Food, glorious road food
This runs the gamut of bringing snacks and plenty of liquids with you — water for hydration, which you know is a big deal for us here — to those food stops you’ll make along the way. Have fun with this. Do a little research both before you go and when you get there to find hidden gems locals recommend. If you are adventurous — and by definition, road trips sort of make you that way — dig into an iconic dish of the area. Few things say “experience” like the food of a city, region, country. Also, you’ll need to grab a bite here and there. Get to know the spots that will fill your belly and create a fantastic memory.
Blankets and pillows and jackets, OH, MY!
No matter how warm your journey may be, take layers in case it gets chilly at night or along your ride, please. We can’t even begin to tell you how often we’ve said, “Oh, I won’t need that sweater/jacket/blanket. We’re just going to (insert name here) and it’s broiling out” then the sun’s going down, temps drop and… shiver! Not only that but being able to cop a snooze in the car now and then is heavenly. Make sure you have creature comforts to make doing so easy and truly relaxing. You can always fold them up and pack them away when you don’t need them. And that brings us to our final tip…
Pack for a road trip, not a day trip
If you’re really spending the bulk of your time in your car, prepare for it. This means to consolidate, compartmentalize, minimize and organize. You want to bring snacks and water, yes, but you’ll also be replenishing along the way — the beauty of a road trip, people. Clothes and accessories such as digital entertainment, books, drawing pads (we have a bunch of artists on our trips), knitting, whatever are coming along for the ride as well, so make room in the right way. Also, you want to make sure you have space for first aid and emergency road kits, and those mementos you purchase. Although you will most likely be staying in some sort of hotel or other accommodation on your travels — where you can always store your stuff, of course — you don’t want to pack so much that it makes those times you do spend in the car uncomfortable. Remember, you’re on a road trip. You can stop at a laundromat or store pretty much anywhere. Again, that’s one of the perks of jumping in your car and being master of your journey.
Indulge the open road
These are just a few things to get you started on the road to your trip (see what we did there?) and a good base from which to start. Before we go, however, we don’t want to forget a couple of safety tips that can really make all the difference in the world.
If you have decided on a solo road trip, forget all of that stuff we said about not overplanning and be OCD about it. These motorized personal walkabouts are incredible opportunities for refreshing, rejuvenating, and rekindling a love affair with yourself and the world around you. However, we do recommend you be ultra-prepared for this lone experience and stock up on everything from supplies to knowledge to protection. And keep in touch with loved ones. Share your itinerary with someone with plenty of contact info.
Also, if you’re going to sleep in your car, find a safe, smart spot to do it. This means, not on the side of the highway. Trucks and all sorts of vehicles racing by you at high speeds, late at night — not a good combo. In addition, don’t go for dark alleys, sketchy looking campgrounds — basically, any area that would make you roll your eyes in a movie theatre and say to the same person in the same situation on the screen, “Oh, C’MON!” Outfit your car for getting an in-vehicle snooze, make sure your loved ones know where you’re stopping for the night, and pick a scenic spot so that when you wake up, it enhances your experience.
The open road during the summer is an amazing way to truly decompress. Take your time, lose yourself in the beauty that surrounds you, and get ready to share the kind of memorable experiences — with others or yourself — that make you feel you truly vacationed when you return home.