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20 End of Summer Road Trip Tips

After three weeks on the road from New York to LA, our Best of the Road Rally teams gained a slew of tips for future road trips. Keep these in mind as you head out for that last big trip of the summer.

  1. Give yourself time when planning. Everything takes more time than you think. Be ambitious in your planning, but be flexible. Be clear about your priorities and be ready to cross things off your list.
  2. Pack light. Really. You don’t need to be dragging all that stuff around. It’s 90 degrees–you really don’t need that jacket.
  3. Get organized. Daily. Leave as much in the car as you can when you go into your hotel. And always keep your keys in the same place. It’ll save you a lot of time and grief.
  4. Try new things. The Road Rally teams were proud to try things they’d never done before. TravelingJules and TravelingJoan danced in the street, the Fun Finders tried foods that were foreign to them like octopus and sushi, and Dan from the McNavigators controlled a helicopter over Marco Island for a few minutes. The teams felt brave and adventurous with every new experience.
  5. Make clean and comfortable beds a priority. The Wynn’s were very appreciative of a good hotel room and even more, fun staff.
  6. Keep the windshield clean so you can see the wonders in front of you. It is amazing how many bugs you can take out in 300 miles.
  7. Look for “side show” attractions. You don’t even have to go far from the highways or leave your car to see some of the most interesting things, like random firework stands in the middle of nowhere or the most interesting gas station.
  8. Use your GPS and your atlas. Each has a time and place when it will be your better bet. Before you start out, take a look at your atlas to see where you’re going; get the big picture.
  9. Keep yourself entertained in the car. The Wynn’s used Redneck Flashcards on the drive for example. Try car games, bring movies and music, or read a book when you’re not at the wheel.
  10. Embrace the local culture. Gone With the Wynn’s were gifted Texas attire to help them blend in for the day in Nacogdoches. Dress like the locals, try their food, and find where they frequent.
  11. Remember why you decided to take a trip. Enjoy the feeling of excitement and anticipation. Everybody loves vacations and you’re on one! Keep your eyes open and all your senses sharpened. Be spontaneous!
  12. Drink water. Drink more than you want to and more than you think you need. Coffee, soda, and alcohol don’t count.
  13. Know your limits and honor them. Your energy is limited. You have less at age 62 than at 28. Take care of yourself. Rest, even if it seems there’s no time to rest.
  14. Eat right. Start looking for a place to eat one hour before you are hungry. Just like Mom told you, eat healthy food. Fried chicken is tempting; veggies are essential.
  15. Do talk to strangers, even though Mom told you not to. They’ll let you in on some local favorites. Everyone has a story and many of them are interesting.
  16. Stay calm. When you lose your phone, your keys, your credit card, your marbles, and the will to go on, chances are good you’ll find them eventually. The worst things to lose are your perspective or your sense of humor.
  17. Be patient with your companions. Travel will test your relationships. You can’t fix everything, but you can hit the re-set button and get a fresh start.
  18. Use the REST formula. The Fun Finders suggest this recipe for a good road trip: Resist over-planning, embrace change, savor the little messes, and taste life with all of your senses.
  19. Connect with the locals. The McNavigators met truly incredible people all over the country who they now consider friends.
  20. Embark. Captain and Clark advise, when you find yourself with the chance–no matter how small–to drive through this nation, do it. Strike out and explore your own backyard, there is more out there than you might expect.

See what else the teams learned along the way at ontheroad.bestoftheroad.com and check out our 200+ road trips designed by region and theme.