3 friends posing for a picture in front of a car

Road Trip Tips

road trip tips

If you’re anything like me, you would never think to pass up the opportunity for a good road trip!  While others may find them exhausting, boring, and way too time-consuming, I love being able to see a ton of new places and enjoy some quality time with friends and family in the car.  There are few better times than a road trip to catch up on podcasts, new music, and random conversation.  Plus, road trips are often cheaper than flying – especially if you’ve got a lot of luggage!


In the last year or two, I’ve embarked on almost 15,000 miles of road tripping – and I’m leaving for another 1,500-mile trip soon!  It all started when I drove with Nick’s family from our hometown in Washington to drop him off at college in Iowa.  From then on, I’ve driven at least part of 4 round trips between Washington and Iowa and one from Washington to Colorado and back.  I’ve learned a lot from each of these trips, and each time we hit the open road, we know more of what to expect, making our travels less stressful and more enjoyable.

In honor of summer traveling beginning soon, here are some of my best road trip tips to prepare for your next adventure and make it the best one yet!

road trip tips


pack smart

It’s so easy to wait until the morning you have to leave to start packing – a.k.a. throwing whatever clean (or maybe dirty) clothes you can find into your suitcase before chucking your bags in the trunk and then leaving, just to remember that important thing you forgot to pack when you’re already an hour in.  

To avoid this, I like to plan ahead.  Packing lists are a life-saver – seriously.  For me, clothes are the hardest thing to pack because you’ve got to be prepared for any weather.  Make sure you look at the forecast while you pick out your outfits – and since this is a road trip we’re talking about, make sure you are extra comfy!  

I also like to pack everything I use daily into one bag – things like toiletries, books, my phone, chargers, water bottles, my laptop, anything that’s a necessity.  This allows you to relax a little, knowing that you really only need to keep track of 2 bags: the one with your clothes and the one with everything else.  If you have a lot of bags and boxes loaded up in your vehicle, labeling them could also be helpful for when you get to your final destination and are desperate to unpack and get settled in.  This might sound like a lot of unnecessary work, but it’s one of the most useful road trip tips I can offer. (:


prepare the playlists

One of the worst feelings EVER is being halfway through an excessively long road trip and not really vibing with the music that’s blasting through the speakers.  That’s why this road trip tip is super duper important… have your playlists ready to go!  Seriously, though, this preparation step can make or break your entire experience (exaggeration? maybe).  

Nick and I have different tastes in music but both enjoy listening to just about anything, so we’ll often rotate through different artists, genres, and curated playlists.  We also like to mix it up with a podcast when the music just isn’t hitting the spot; our favorite is Stuff You Should Know.  

If you’re going on a road trip with your friends, create a playlist that everyone can add to and listen to that for part of your drive – this is a great surefire way for everyone to enjoy the tunes!  Nick, myself, and one of our best friends did this when we traveled to Colorado; I’ll link the playlist here!  If you like it, go follow me on Spotify @MarissaOrnelas to listen to the rest of my playlists. (:


plan your stops – but be flexible

Planning your stops efficiently is one of the best ways to not get too antsy, burnt out, or flat out bored while you’re road tripping – making it one of the most important road trip tips.  Obviously, your main determinant for planning stops along the way is your vehicle, but you don’t have to wait until the gas light comes on to take a quick pause.  If you need to use the restroom, blow off some steam, or just want to take in the views around you, pulling over somewhere safe and taking care of business is a great idea.  Not only will you feel better after taking a break, but chances are your passengers (if you have any) will too.  

If you’re going for a long haul road trip, hotel stops may also be on your radar.  Luckily, there should be plenty of options in any mid-to-large-sized city, and you’re bound to pass through quite a few if your trip is long enough to split into multiple days.  The trick that I’ve discovered is to not book your hotel until the day of.  Yes, there may be less options, but the price may also be a better deal than you would have gotten if you had booked it out months in advance.  Plus, it can be a hassle to reschedule a hotel reservation if you decide to stop early or drive further that day.  The only warning I have in relation to booking hotel reservations is that a lot of hotels require guests who are checking in to be 21 years or older, so that can be a tough issue to run into.  Your best bet to get around this is to call the hotel since many don’t explicitly state this rule on their website.


fuel yourself!

Your car isn’t the only thing that needs fuel during your road trip! 

Making sure you prioritize nutrition and hydration is always important, but it’s especially so while you’re traveling.  I’m a sucker for gas station snacks, which help a lot on the long stretches of road, but make sure you eat some yummy, filling meals each day too!  Consuming enough of the nutrients your body needs will help you stay safe on the road, keep your attitude positive, and is one way to ensure a fun and memorable travel experience.  

In order to make sure you are totally prepared to fuel yourself properly, it’s a great idea to pack some of your favorite snacks to get the trip started.  Popcorn, chips, dried fruit, cereal, PB&Js, crackers, and granola bars are some of my favorites.  It’s not a bad idea to grab a case of water bottles before you hit the road, either, but try to fill up your reusable bottles whenever possible.

3 friends posing for a picture in front of a car



And of course, don’t forget to check on your car and make sure everything is running smoothly!

I hope these road trip tips were helpful – safe travels! (:

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