By Anna Starkey
Between holidays, college visits, and school trips, fall traveling can be exhausting. In order to maintain a quick pace while also enjoying yourself, I have compiled a list of essential lessons I learned while traveling to Chicago one day, to setting up a tent in West Virginia the next.
1. Make a list! Organization is key while traveling long distances. Before you even begin to pack, make a list of everything you think you may need and more. Divide the list into a “what I already have” and “what I need to buy” section for even more clarity.
2. Pack ahead! Do NOT wait till the day of the trip to begin packing. Make your list early and gather your things the night before. This will ensure a stress-free morning prior to the trip and give you enough time to check over your things.
3. Try to use only cash: avoid credit cards! It’s easier to keep track of your money when you have it in physical form. Only carrying a credit or debit card can lead to careless and unnecessary spending while on the road. Before the trip, budget out how much you want to spend and make a pit stop at the ATM.
4. Plan out your stops! Before leaving home, research rest stops and gas stations in order to choose a safe place to refuel. This will allow you to keep on schedule and avoid lengthy and frequent stops.
5. Don’t rely on only a phone for navigation! Although convenient, phone batteries do not last forever and cell service is not always reliable. Print out a map and directions from a website such as Google Maps or Mapquest prior to leaving just in case your phone malfunctions.
6. Buy food for the road! Donuts and Cheetos from gas stations may sound tasty, but pre-purchased healthy snacks will leave you feeling much more energized. Instead of relying on fast food drive-thrus and rest stop vending machines, run to the grocery the night before to ensure you will not have to waste money on junk food while on the road.
7. Pick out music for the trip before hitting the road! One of the biggest distractions for young drivers is the radio. If you are planning on listening to music during your drive, make a driving playlist or pick out CDs that will keep you alert and energized. By doing this, you will not only have entertainment, you will also avoid the distraction of sorting through your iPod or CD collection while driving.
8. Stick to the schedule–but not too much! Efficiency can be difficult without punctuality. However, sometimes the small stops and scenic outlooks turn out to make the best memories. Do not hesitate to stop to take a picture of a beautiful view or an interesting scene. Enjoy the trip just as much as the destination.
9. Do not panic if something goes wrong. Chances are not everything will go according to plan. Although this can be irritating, preparing for difficulties along the way will help you to avoid stress. Remember to bring along a few tools as well as a first aid kit. Safety first!
10. Double check everything. This applies before you leave from home and before you leave to go home. It can be easy to forget things behind, so save yourself the worry and double check everything.
11. Last but not least, remember to have fun. It’s about the entire experience. Enjoy yourself and enjoy your company. Take pictures and purchase all of the tacky souvenirs that you’d like. Good luck and safe travels!