Our month-long winter road trip has come to an end, and being my first long road trip, I think I didn’t do too badly. Mostly because my boyfriend drove the entire way (serious props to him!), but also because I made it out alive despite all the extreme stress during the trip. Unfortunately, while the trip was enjoyable and informative, it was a lot more stressful than I had hoped for / expected. Here are 10 things I’ve learned from this road trip that I wish I knew before we hit the road to avoid unnecessary stress…
- Have a concrete schedule/plan, and allow at least 3-4 days at each location. The biggest mistake we made on this trip was not having a clear plan… and not allowing enough days at each stop. We didn’t plan out how long certain drives would be, and so we pulled off and slept in the car once (and other times, drove very drowsily… drive safely, kids). Because we didn’t have a clear plan, we would often miss the dates we planned on being at a specific spot, and as a result, have to cut certain stops short to meet the next destination. I didn’t anticipate this stress because I figured we were driving and can go on our own schedule… but because we ended up staying at friends/families’ places, we had to somewhat follow a tight schedule. Which leads to my next point…
- Limit staying at friends/families’ places to 10% of the entire trip. They’re cool and all… but if you’re a home-body like me, you’ll understand the importance of alone time and comfort of simply being in your own place. It’s also nice to do things at your own pace… and not feel required to socialise at all times.
- Have a generous budget. That way, you can afford to stay at hotels more frequently, eat well, and not have to depend on others! Having the freedom of just being in your own space at your own time also really helps to reduce stress while on vacation. A generous budget also allows you to spend more at each location, on fun things like souvenirs and good food!
- Sign up for hotel rewards. We decided on Wyndham Rewards because they offer a free night after you rack up 15,000 points from hotel bookings. These points really add up when you stay at hotels often on your trip! In this case, the hotel fees pay for itself if you travel frequently.
- Bring some winter clothes in summer, and summer clothes in winter. ‘Cause you just never know when you’ll need them! It was so hot in New York when we were there (surprisingly!), I really wish I had brought my favourite pair of shorts.
- Bring a swimsuit. Again, you just never know when you’ll need it. We stayed at a nice hotel for two nights with a decent indoor pool/spa and I just wish I brought my bikini! I didn’t think about it because I was expecting to be freezing the whole way… after all, it is nicest in California during the winter, no? All I brought were heavy jackets, tights, sweats, and sweaters… 😐
- Stock up on snacks at a Target or Walmart. They’re overpriced at gas stations, despite how convenient they can be.
- Bring and use a selfie stick… and be proud of it! Those memories will never come back alive, and if you’re traveling with just one other person, a selfie stick allows you to get good photos from further away. They’re also great for taking landscapes from certain angles that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. Polaroid cameras can also be a fun way to document fun memories 🙂
- Bring a book. Or at least have a plan on how to spend your time wisely in the car for many hours. I wish I learned how to knit before I started the trip… just think about how many scarves or blankets I would have made by the end of the trip… 1500 miles later! Luckily, I did have a book to read to keep me somewhat occupied.
- Have a first-aid kit readily available. My skin decided to break out like crazy mid-way through the trip, and one of the pimples ruptured into a blister and would not stop bleeding. I was forever grateful for my boyfriend’s first-aid kit and was able to bandage my pimple on my forehead without any problems or infections (other than odd stares from strangers, of course).
- Live in the moment… and enjoy it while it lasts. Time flies when you’re on vacation, so why stress about things that will somehow work their way out in the long run? This one was hard for me to do because I am naturally an easily stressed person, so I found myself stressing about things outside of the road trip that I had no control over.
Do you have any pointers on how to travel with as little stress as possible?