We’ve been helping people with their road trips for decades. In honor of the 90th anniversary edition of the Rand McNally Road Atlas, we’ve compiled 90 tips—45 of them in the atlas itself and 45 more in this series of four articles. Tips #59–#70 offer suggestions on ways to reduce stress, have fun, or do both. You can find these tips and more in the Travel Tips section of this blog, and remember, you can pick up tips #1–#45 in the 2014 Rand McNally Road Atlas, available in stores and online.
#59: Keep the pre-trip excitement going. With all the preparations and packing, your road trip can become stressful even before you leave the driveway. Try to relish the anticipation of your trip. Keep everyone’s enthusiasm high by watching movies about (or reading books on) the places you plan to visit. Even watching a few good, general road trip movies can do the trick.
#60: Create a playlist just for the trip. It will lift your spirits on the road and be a great musical memento of your experience.
#61: Have loose change for tolls at the ready. And replenish it often.One way to do this: fine everyone a quarter each time one of them whines.
#62: Make regular pit stops. Gone are the days of great-grandpa shouting, “Pee before you go, ‘cause we aren’t stopping for wood, water or coal!” These days, the journey (and having a comfortable one) is just as important as the destination.
#63: Take extra security precautions when traveling alone. Avoid stopping in isolated and/or dark places, opt for hotel rooms in well-trafficked areas, end the day before sundown, and check in with folks at home.
#64: Keep things in the same place. If you’ve followed our packing tips, you will have organized loose items into bins, created grab-and-go overnight bags, and packed the car so that priority items are the most accessible. None of this will help you stay organized, though, if you keep shuffling the bins and bags around. Keeping all your gear in the same place in the car and in the bags and bins will save a lot of time and grief.
#65: Break up holiday road trips with a brief stop to exchange some gifts. Keep one present for each family member in the car to exchange halfway through the trip. Everyone will spend the first few hours speculating on what the present is and then tinker with it the rest of the way. A gift-exchange is great way to break up a long road trip outside of holiday seasons, too.
#66: Try new things—big or small, extraordinary or ordinary. They all count. Bold, adventurous life-changing experiences are great, but so are simple ones like eating hearty local fare at a greasy spoon.
#67: Reorganize and regroup daily. Clean out the car. Tidy up the trunk (without re-arranging things entirely, of course). Assess the day’s events, and prep for the next day.
#68: At day’s end, have everybody share their favorite sights and experiences. Jot these down in a travel journal or post them on social media. Vote for the best sight or experience overall at the end of the trip.
#69: Pace yourself. This isn’t a race. If you fall in love with a town, why leave right away?
#70: Just head out! You’ll know where you’re going when you get there.
For further details and additional tips and inspiration, see 13 Reasons to Road Trip in 2013, Crafty Nature Creations, How to Get the Most out of a Visitors Center, and Five Soothing American Spas