The road trip: an escape, a sojourn, pilgrimage, rite of passage and an American pastime.
No matter where you live, a road trip can bring you to beauty you’ve never seen and reintroduce you to experiences and places you’d forgotten you knew. We encourage you to set aside time this summer to go exploring on four (or two) wheels, to get outside, go camping, glamping, hotel-hopping—however you do it, get out and see what there is to see. We’ve pulled together hard-earned lessons and our favorite accessories to make the great open road that much more enjoyable.
Map it out: Get together with your mates and pull out a map (yes, a paper one) that shows the whole area you’re going to visit. Use a pencil and mark your must-sees, want-to-sees and can-live-without-but-would-like-to-stop-at-if-you’re-close spots. Connect the dots and you’ve got the start to the order of your trip. There’s fewer buzzkills worse than backtracking, and getting the plan in place can help avoid that. Also: Buy an atlas, one of the big ones, with every state on it.
Print out directions: It’s a great wide open out there, and hopefully you’re going places where phones won’t work (they’re some of the best and most scenic, after all). That means that you won’t be able to rely on your phone for directions. With your general route laid out, you can look up directions beforehand and print out the steps from Campsite A to Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower and finally Campsite B. Back in the day, you could have someone put together these directions for you. With the invention of the internet, you can make your own! Plus, with your map all marked up, you’ve got the rough directions right in front of you.
Get your Gear Sorted: Are you camping? Glamping? Peak-bagging? Hunting? Brewery-hopping? Shopping? Canoeing? Biking? You’ll need to make sure you’ve got the right stuff to do the things you want. Racks, boxes and trailers add a lot of utility to your vehicle, and keep your options open. On the softer side, you’ll want packs and bags that give you enough utility for your adventures, and enough flexibility to go from one to the other. We suggest a reliable duffle/luggage piece for the larger things you keep in the car, but want mobile (think sleeping gear, extra shoes, clothes etc.). Take a look at the Flight Bag, Explorer Duffle and Laurentian Luggage. You’ll need a daypack or shoulder bag that’ll take you from alpine lakes, to deep forests and everything in between. Take a look at one of the packs in our Summit Series, the High Falls, Arrowhead, and Geologist. You’ll need all of the accouterment for camping too, if you’re so inclined. Check out our regal and timeless Campfire Tents if you’ve got car camping or Glamping in your future.
Bring the nicest camera you’ve got: You’ll want a photo album when you’re done. Don’t bring too much, but bring enough to capture all of your adventures. A phone will do a great job, but falls short in extreme-low-light. Stars are worth it just to look at, but if you want to get the Milky Way for your profile picture, bring something that was built for taking pictures. A GoPro is great for an action-packed (or decidedly low-key) road trip adventure.
Multiple Drivers: Have more than one driver and drive in shifts. The world is a big place, and roads only get you places so fast, so plan on being in the car and driving a lot. Even with the best laid plans and a patchwork of destinations along the road, you’ll be getting from point A to B over several hours, or an entire day. Switch off your drivers: it keeps you sane, and, most importantly, it keeps you safe.
Seat Belts: This goes without saying, but buckle up. It’s easy, fast and it keeps you safe. Get in an accident without a belt and you’re likely to end up outside of the vehicle. We’re not prudes, we just want you to get home safe!
Cash Money: If you’re going with friends, figure out the finances first, decide if you’re rotating your gas fills, all going on one credit card and splitting it up later, pooling cash—whatever. If it’s not out in the open, you might be on the all-nighter drive home Sunday night before you’ve all got to pull double-shifts when you realize that Joe hasn’t spent a dime and thinks he won’t have to. Cover it early so there’re no hard feelings and no-one gets left high and dry.
National Parks Pass: The National Parks are great. The spaces they administer are some of the most beautiful in the country, and the hikes, trails and views are amazing. If you’re visiting more than one, buy a parks pass. It will save you a lot of money and hassle over the course of a trip. Plus, they’re good for a year, so you can get another trip or two out of it before it expires.
Food: Bring and eat healthy food. It’s easy to slip into poor eating habits on a road trip. Pack and buy fruit, eat salads, drink water – you’ll be glad you did.
Don’t Blink: It’ll be over before you know it, so grab your road trip by the horns and live it to the fullest!