Whether it’s the getaway of a lifetime, an annual family outing or a weekend jaunt born of a Friday whim, the road trip – great or small – has the potential to either invigorate or aggravate.
To prevent your excursion from morphing into a series of scenes from a movie like “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” or even “Bad Trip,” you need a little planning.
If it’s a spontaneous expedition, we don’t want to be a wet blanket on your plans. But you can be prepared without being overly premeditated, if you pack a bag full of our dos and don’ts.
Plan what to wear
You don’t have to be on a transcontinental trip to feel a dramatic climate change. Even a geographical change of a couple of states can deliver a temperature shift. Don’t be that shivering guy at a Virginia filling station in shorts and a Florida Marlins cap. Check your favorite weather website and pack for the forecast.
Tip: Even if the forecast is sunny, pack a rain coat, just in case.
Forget the water
Unseasoned tourists are easy to spot because they’re usually dehydrated. Keep hydrated when you travel. Water is different wherever you go, so fill your bottle or bring a case of bottled water, depending on the duration of your tour. You can always buy water when you arrive, too. Just stay hydrated!
Tip: Stuff a variety of snack packs in your travel bag, too.
Book accommodations close to the action
Who doesn’t like to save a buck? Plan to stay near the activities you have planned, though. It might cost a little more to stay closer to the amusement park you want to visit, but for the extra money you spend, you could save that and more in travel time and fuel. Plus, you want to spend less time on the road and more time enjoying your vacation, especially if you have a car full of kids.
Tip: If you can’t get within steps of the action, find a place close to public transport.
Check a bag for a short trip
Planning a short flight instead? Remember the thrill of the short foray is in the overnight bag, friend. Pack lightly, and carry a credit card. If you need an extra T-shirt or sunglasses, get them where you’re going. Even the slight chance that your checked luggage will wind up in Paris, France rather than Paris, Texas, is reason enough to carry-on.
Tip: Buy travel-sized toiletries when you arrive, to save space.
Give thought to where you’re going and who’s coming with
Compatibility, not only among travelers, but between traveler and destination, is key. Don’t bring your claustrophobic sister to see the caverns. Your sun-sensitive brother might not appreciate the beach trek. Kids might enjoy a trip to the National Zoo in D.C. much more than tickets to the theater.
Tip: Brainstorm with your travel companions to pick the most appealing destination.
Try to pack too much in
Feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? Ease into it, my ambitious friend. Plan no more than one must-see per day, with a list of peripheral “I wouldn’t mind if we did this” attractions. Weather and other factors could alter plans, so the less stringent your schedule is, the better.
Tip: Take an extra day off work to recalibrate after you return.
Eat at local restaurants you don’t have at home
There’s comfort in the neighborhood grill, but when you’re out and about, don’t fall on that chicken-finger crutch. Ask the locals to recommend mom-and-pop pizzerias. Order seafood on the coast. Try something new. Plus, if you have a long drive, the last thing you want is a series of drive-thru meals.
Tip: Do a web search for restaurant reviews before you travel.
Forget to stay connected!
Whether it’s to post photos on social media or make a video call back home, on-the-go Internet access is perfect for staying connected while you travel. When the hotspot is in your pocket, you’re set to check out restaurant reviews, ticket prices, and search for indigenous poisonous snakes. You never know what can happen during a vacation.
Tip: Use your mobile internet service instead of hotel or vacation rental wireless. If all the hotel guests are using the wireless network, you’ll notice a drop in signal quality for sure. With wireless internet, your signal is yours and yours alone.
The right planning will save you a little stress on the road, and will give you something to look forward to when you reach your destination.
This was a guest post by CLEAR Internet, which offers travelers on-the-go internet access so they can stay connected wherever their travels may take them.