How I prepare for a road trip

Christmas is around the corner, and RG and I are taking our annual Christmas road trip to visit family and friends.  Taking the time to prepare for road trips like these makes life so much easier.  We make at least one, sometimes two, of these long trips a year.  This year we are visiting the VA/DC area and then up in the air…it could include a stop in Nashville for NYE or elsewhere.  It is my first time not being 100% planned and it totally stresses me out!  But I am trying to roll with it and learn to let things happen as they do.

Anyways, here are my tips, in no particular order, on how to prepare for a week (or longer) on the road:

Plan your overnight stays and make them fun. Decide about how many hours you want to drive and research a few towns that fall around that area.  Is there a major city nearby, a winery you may want to visit, a historic center or museum?  Try to find something that will make that stop fun.  This will take your mind off the fact that you have to get right back into the car tomorrow.

Have an outfit packed for every occasion…even if you plan on a completely low-key and relaxing trip make sure you have at least one dressy outfit.  You never know what could come up and you should be prepared for anything.  I promise, it won’t take up that much more room…and you’re driving so who cares if you have to add an extra bag to the trunk!

– Have your car checked out beforehand…this may sound obvious but we have gotten stuck a couple of times…once with a bald tire and once with a malfunctioned strut.  When was the last time you had your oil checked?  Do your tires need air?  Are you going somewhere it may snow?  If so make sure you have an ice scraper in your car.

Make arrangements for your pets.  DO NOT LEAVE THIS UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE.  RG and I have also learned this lesson the hard way.  If your pet is coming with you pack them a bag just like you pack your own.  They deserve to have their favorite toys, food and treats too.

– Pack a cooler.  Bring some healthy snacks, bottled water, caffeine if you think you’ll need it (Five Hour Energy for me!) and maybe a bottle of wine.  This will help you avoid eating fast food more than you have to and when you stop overnight a glass of wine can help you relax and unwind.  It’s also a great way to romanticize the experience a bit.

– Take turns driving.  Even if one person drives the most they deserve a break too.

– Make an awesome play list everyone will enjoy.  Don’t just stick to your favorite songs or what’s popular on the radio…mix it up a bit and tailor it to the crowd.  Or pick out a book on tape, something to keep you energized and focused on the drive.

– Print out directions.  Your phone may die, your Garmin may go out…it never hurts to have a hard copy of your directions for back up.

– Clean your house and don’t forget to make your bed before hitting the road.  We’re usually running out of the house, leaving piles of clothes on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink and the bed unmade.  But nothing is worse than coming home to a messy house.  You will feel so much better when you walk in to a clean place.

– Most importantly, have fun!  Long days on the road can be stressful and bring out the worst in people. Use this time to enjoy each other, and let the little things go.

I hope these tips help.  Until next time…Happy Holidays!

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