Sorry for the late post this morning! We just moved to West Virginia and are trying to crawl out from a mountain of boxes, deal with a dog who’s not adjusting well, and to top things off the internet wasn’t set up properly (so I’m writing this in a very nice Morgantown McDonald’s).
Anyways, I want to share more about our road trip with you all and give you some tips and ideas to make your next road trip even more awesome!!
#1 Have a plan and at the same time don’t have a plan
We had a basic outline (okay it was an elaborate spreadsheet) of the major cities we wanted to stop in and things we wanted to do there. The plan was to have a set date to reach a major city (usually because there was a baseball game we wanted to see or wedding to attend), but take our time getting to that city. Don’t just drive to the destination, make the drive part of the trip.
I really recommend the app Roadtrippers. You put in the cities you are going to and it will show you attractions and stops along the route. Without this app, we’d have missed out on things like the Popeye statue in Alma, AR or the Precious Moments chapel in Carthage, MO. I had looked at our route prior to leaving and made notes of places a long the way to stop, but we also were open to calling an audible and making an unplanned stop.
Being open to unscheduled stops allowed us to discover Grand Falls, near Joplin, MO.
#2 Pack a cooler and picnic stuff
This tip is an oldie but a goodie. Pack your favorite drinks and water so you aren’t spending all of your hard-earned money at gas stations. I also recommend bringing picnic supplies so you aren’t stuck eating McDonald’s for every lunch. In our cooler we had a tub of potato salad, cold cuts, mayo, cokes, and waters. I also brought a variety pack of chips and other snack items. I recommend getting your go-to snacks but also grabbing something special (for us it was toffee-cashews).
A couple of things I learned though, don’t pack anything that can melt. I bought us some chocolate covered almonds (a special treat) and after the first day it was just a big mess. Also, ice melts and that water will ruin your food if not in water tight containers. Next time, I will put the food in a sealable plastic tub before putting it in the cooler.
Stopping and having a picnic was a lot of fun for us, it also gave us the flexibility to eat in the car while driving to our next stop!
#3 Find some in-car entertainment to fill the silence
Spending almost 3 weeks in the car is a long time to be in a small space with a person (even someone you love immensely) so you’ll need stuff to entertain yourselves. Ryan has unlimited data so we watched/listened to New Girl and Gilmore Girls during the long boring stretches of road. If you don’t have unlimited data, I recommend books on cd or through audible.com.
#4 Pack less…way less
We over-packed big time! While we had an extra suitcase with our fancy wedding attire, we still filled our car to the brim before we even left the driveway. Keep your packing to the minimum (you can do laundry at hotels on the road) and leave space for souvenirs or the leather chair you fall in love with at the antique store.
One thing that worked well was we had a duffel bag that had our toiletries in it. When we were staying only one night in a hotel, we’d just put our clothes in that bag so we weren’t unpacking the car every night. This system was great, we just need a smaller suitcase to start. Also, get a soft laundry bag to collect the dirty laundry (something that you can stuff into empty spaces).
#5 Enjoy the ride
A road trip is the one place you can use the selfie stick and not feel bad about it. Bring it and take pictures of the places you’re seeing. You’ll be amazed at how beautiful this country is, in fact, one of our most common phrases was, “Wow, I can’t believe how beautiful it is here.” That was said over and over in places like OK, AR, IL, etc.
Put the phones down and look out of the window, talk to your spouse/significant other/friend, and have an awesome time.
I’ll eventually post our whole itinerary here, with all of the stops we made.