Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose… – Walt Whitman
I love a good road trip – seeing the country from a different perspective, taking the time to get to and from new cities, and spending some uninterrupted time with my two (or four) legged trip-buddies.
Over the holidays, JP and I packed up my little Honda CRV and headed off on our holiday road-trip through North Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Here are our tricks for road-trip survival:
- Print directions – I know, I know. It’s not eco-friendly to print directions anymore, especially when Garmin and other GPS systems offer paper-free guidance. But there are (still) cellular and satellite free parts of the US where the only word Garmin has to offer is “recalculating.” So save yourself the hassle and print a set of directions before you leave.
- Pet-friendly hotels – If you travel with your fur-babies like we do, do a Google search for pet-friendly hotels and hotel chains in advance. That way, when it’s late at night and you’re scanning the freeway exits for hotel signs, you’ll know which ones will (and won’t) accept your four-legged friends. The results may surprise you. On this trip, we knew we had to stop in Oklahoma City for a work meeting and booked a room at the Skirvin Hilton in advance. Located right in the heart of OKC, the Skirvin actually advertised itself as dog-friendly and offered pet pampering services!
- Know the weather/driving conditions – Winter road conditions aren’t really an issue in the Austin area, but even Dallas can be covered in snow in the blink of an eye. Many states update road conditions online, so we always program the websites into our smartphones in advance. The Iowa Department of Transportation updates their site regularly, and many states are just as responsive.
- Have your car checked before you go – I almost always take my car in for a pre-trip checkup before I take off. There is nothing worse that being “that car” stuck on the side of the road, miles away from civilization, for something that could have been prevented by a pre-trip checkup. It’s well worth the $25-$40 that it usually costs for a little piece of mind.
- Last but not least, who controls the radio? – JP is addicted (to put it mildly) to NPR and podcasts of The Economist. I drive best to up-beat, sing-able music and to be quite honest, his choices make me want to fall asleep. So we came up with a rule: Driver controls the radio choices. That system works best for us because, after all, the driver is the one who has to stay awake and motivated. Take the time to hash this out before you leave…there is nothing quite like the silent treatment inside the confined space of an automobile.