How To Be A Grown-up: Tips for Unplanned Road Trips

We recently returned from our Great American Road Trip where we saw a lot of things in the Western United States without advanced planning.

A numerical summary:

  • 2 people
  • 3,256 miles
  • 6 days
  • 6 states
  • 3 National Parks
  • 2 National Monuments

We managed to go almost the whole way with without using our GPS! And we still liked each other after we were done. Here are some strategies we used that helped our trip run smoothly:

1.  Acquire good maps/atlas of the area

We had neighbors donate their maps, but you can typically find maps at rest stops or gas stations along the way.  We also had an atlas.

Good maps show where the rest stops are along the road, which parks have camping and a list cities’ population.

2. Pack food

There will be moments where you need to have lunch, but there is not a restaurant to be found.  We brought a cooler and packed it with fruit, snacks and sandwich ingredients.  This allowed us to make a lunch and keep on driving.

3. Listen to Local Radio stations

This is mostly for fun, but it also allows you to track local weather so you know if a major storm is headed your way.

4. Sunscreen and Sunglasses

Even though you’re in the car all day, you’re still getting lots of sun. So be good to yourself and wear sunscreen and sunglasses.


Did I miss anything?  What are your best road trip strategies?


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