Road trips have been an iconic embodiment of American culture for over seventy years. After World War II, normal families finally had the disposable money to spend on new cars and fun vacations. If you ever get the chance to see the West Coast of America, you will notice how many National and State Parks have been built to sustain travel by car. We can cruise through the states of the nation while viewing it's most beautiful sights. But it isn't always a perfect or ideal experience. Things can go wrong, things happen unexpectedly. Here are five things to consider before trekking on the adventure of a lifetime.
There is no worse way to end a road trip than because of a bad car accident. Not only could it cause permanent physical damage to human life, but it could also cost you a pretty penny. It is important to pay attention to the local laws and speed limit signs. Remember, your license plate is either from your home state or on an out-of-state rental car. This can peg you as a tourist and be a target by law enforcement and local bandits. If you are driving in a country or state you are not used to, learn their road signs. Learn what you need to do when there is construction on the winding roads. Make sure you cultivate a safe knowledge of the area before you jump behind the car's wheel.
Decide before you even leave for your trip what your budget is. Do you plan on camping most nights at campgrounds with a tent and gear? Or do you prefer to stay in swanky hotels? Roadside motels? Accommodation can be a large cost, and it is important to understand what you and your travel companions prefer before being out on the road. Do you plan on eating every meal out at fancy restaurants? Or do you plan to stop at grocery stores and use a cooler with ice and make salami and cheese sandwiches throughout the day? If you plan on visiting National Parks, it can be beneficial to plan ahead and purchase a park pass. You must decide with your traveling group what kind of trip you plan to take, make a budget, and all parties must stick to it.
This seems like an obvious idea to consider, but you will not fully know how other people like to travel until you travel with them. Everybody has a different travel style and you must find people who have a similar one to you. You do not want to argue about whether you should visit the Steinbeck Museum, walk the Santa Cruz boardwalk, or head into Yosemite National Park. Different people hold different things important during their travel experience. Some people are going to choose bustling cities over the rolling hills of the countryside. Find other people who think like you.
It is smart to keep items in the car that could be beneficial in a life or death situation. A proper first aid kit is always an intelligent item to bring along. Band-aids, lighters, a sewing kit with needles, motion sickness medicine, allergy medicine, and pain medicine could all help in a dire or scary situation. Keeping a small kit of car repair items in the trunk could also differentiate between a successful and not successful road trip. Bring along extra car oil, windshield wiper fluid, and paper towels. Another key item to bring in the car is water. Whether or not you plan on driving through massive deserts and hot climates where water could be used to save your own life, carrying water can hydrate you and cool down your car if it overheats in the sun or during a hot climb up a mountain road.
In the moment, a road trip can be tiring, daunting, and overwhelming. In hindsight, it is an amazing experience that many people only dream of having. Enjoy it in the moment. Do not worry about small things like how gross the gas station coffee is. Do not get in arguments with your travel companions over the length of the drive on a given day. It is not worth it and will be a waste of energy. A road trip is a chance of a lifetime, enjoy it. Enjoy all its annoyances and intricacies.
Whether you travel the country with your family, friends, or acquaintances; whether you eat at expensive restaurants and cafes or local variety stores; whether you rent a car or drive your own, you will have the adventure of a lifetime. Play some iconic tunes like Paul Simon, Johnny Cash, and Kenny Rogers and cruise through the expansive country.
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