At some point or another, most weekend warriors decide to tackle an extended trip. Excitement—and panic—soon set in! Extended road trips can require a little extra planning, but the adventure you’ll find on the open road is worth it. Let the wind whip your hair as visions of your RV dance in your rear-view mirror.
Set Reasonable Expectations for Your Driving Days
Your road trip might take you a thousand miles or more from your home. How you break up the driving is truly a matter of individual preference. Some folks chow through 12 hours of driving or more without a stayover, while others prefer to plan a leisurely route, with plenty of time to stop and smell the roses (or see the roadside attractions). The most important thing is to decide how much you can drive while keeping everyone sane, and set your schedule accordingly.
Avoid the Packing Woes
A cross-country trip may take you through three seasons of temperatures, provide access to ALL your favorite hobbies, and keep you away from home for several weeks. It’s tempting to think you need to pack everything you own. While it’s true you might want all of those items and more, spare yourself the grief of over packing. Allow time in your schedule for doing laundry, keep your wardrobe simple (while still taking a couple of items appropriate for weather fluctuations), and consider renting gear or living without it.
Keep Safety in Mind
Extended road trips take you into unfamiliar territory. Will you have access to gas stations? Will your cell phone work? Will you face hazardous roads or weather? These may be the kinds of questions keeping you up at night, and the honest answer is you might not find the answers before your road trip. Manage your fears with proper preparations. Download or print your driving directions, so you don’t get lost if your connectivity wanes. Be sure to also carry an atlas (better yet, make it a motor carriers’ atlas, which includes information about steep grades, restricted roads, and low clearances). Load your phone with useful apps that help you stay on top of weather conditions, gas station locations, and more. Finally, seek advice from fellow travelers more familiar with the regions you’ll be visiting.
Extended road trips may cause you some extra pre-trip anxiety; however, the thrill of exploring completely new landscapes is worth the extra preparation. Stretch out of your comfort zone, and get busy exploring America from sea to shining sea.