Summer has practically become synonymous with road trips, both as a way to save money on airfare and to have some fun-filled adventures on the road. Whether you're traveling with a minivan full of kids or you're taking a trip up the coast with your girlfriends, here are five top tips from travel bloggers to help ensure a road trip to remember.
Bring a Paper Map
Before you see the dreaded "no service" pop up on your smartphone, which will keep MapQuest or Siri from getting you where you need to go, make sure to bring along a paper map or a print-out from your go-to site for directions, just in case. Marissa Willman of His & Her Travels admits that maps are "old fashioned," but she says, "you'll definitely appreciate the back-up if your travel tech fails you on the open road. After the trip, you can always get crafty and turn those maps into coasters or add them into scrapbooking pages."
Juice Up Your Go-To Gadgets
We all have our must-bring gadgets for road trips, like smartphones and tablets, but don't forget the accessories that go along with them, like the iGo Power Trip, which lets you power up your cell phone, digital camera, or iPad from wherever you are. Another must-have is a universal car inverter to keep laptops and DVD players juiced since they often don't hold more than two to three hours of battery power. Also, grab a headphone splitter so two can share the audio of a DVD and a Stashcord to keep earbuds tangle-free.
Don't Forget Plates, Bowls, and Utensils
Just because you're away from your home—and your kitchen—doesn't mean you need to eat fast food or camp out in restaurants at meal times. Laura Walker of A Wandering Sole suggests bringing along plates, bowls, napkins, and utensils, then taking short excursions to the grocery store for foods you can easily prep on your own, like sandwiches and salads (be sure to bring a cooler, too). Even picking up oatmeal packets and cereal bars is better than getting mini donuts for breakfast at a gas station, and it's a lot healthier and economical, too.
App Up Your Phone
There are so many apps out there that are lifesavers, as well as fun-makers, to have on road trips. iExit is a great one since it shows gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores at upcoming exits on the interstate, suggests Karon Clark Warren of All Things Lifestyle. Or, check out the Roadside America app for quirky roadside attractions or Roadside Presidents for help finding historical landmarks on your journey. Need a bathroom (ahem, a clean one)? Then, grab the free SitOrSquat app. How about WiFi access? Then, get WiFi Finder, which will tell you the location of the closest WiFi hotspot.
When traveling with a group, whether beloved family members or favorite friends, rendezvous beforehand (in-person or on the phone) to talk about what each person wants to do and see in order to manage expectations during the trip. Laurence Norah of Finding the Universe suggests such a pre-trip pow-wow in order to avoid potential tensions that may arise when visiting the "97th giant ball of twine the driver wants to see." Also, be flexible to ensure everyone in the car has a good time and gets to do many of the things they want to along the way.
Photo credits: Road trip via Shutterstock