The Ultimate Collection of Road Trip Tips

There is nothing fun like piling everyone in a vehicle and going for an old-fashioned road trip.

The allure of the adventure and the fact that it is such an economical option as compared to a vacation. As the miles start to increase and the weariness sets in, everyone starts to feel tired and bored. 

But, don’t worry. We’ve got the ultimate collection of road trip tips to make sure that you have an epic, memorable road trip with your friends or family.

Let’s dive straight in…

Planning a Round-The-World Trip
Planning a road trip

The Ultimate Collection of Road Trip Tips

Top tricks to make your road trip safe and memorable for the whole family.

Before you leave

Make sure you take your driving license. It’s so obvious, yet so forgettable.

Take your specs too, if you wear them for driving, and some sunglasses.

If you’re old or have a disability that affects your ability to drive, check with the hire company if they have any restrictions on people like you.

Compare quotes from different hire companies. There are a number of recognized stores in the US and they’re pretty similar in terms of cars and service, so try to get a good deal.

If you can, get your map or GPS before you leave. At least try to get directions from the car hire place to the main road!

Carry a First Aid Kit 

Before you get into the driver’s seat and drive off, make sure you have a complete first aid kit with you. Make sure you have a variety of items in the kit to cover a wide range of emergencies.

With trips being so unpredictable, you need to make sure the kit is extensive enough. If you had a kit before and used some items on a previous trip, you need to find out what items are missing and you replace them.   

Travel as a Group 

A road trip will be very boring if you decide to go on your own. At first it may seem fun due to the freedom you feel, but with time, you start getting bored. Having a group will be more ideal because you will be able to interact and have fun. 

One other thing about travelling in a group is that you will feel safer when you have other people around you. In case your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you are less likely to be at risk of getting burgled as compared to when you are travelling alone.

Therefore, when planning a road trip, ask your friends and colleagues and plan on travelling together.   

Find Something Unusual 

There are many places along the road that you can make a stopover to turn your trip into an interesting one – all you need to do is find the places. Use the billboards on the roadside or use a search engine to find any attractions along your route.

Find a way to incorporate the site into your trip so that you have something to talk about many years to come. Additionally, most of these attractions are normally near the highway and inexpensive. These locations may also serve as educational stopovers for the children especially when they represent landmarks that are a part of history.   

Add an Element of Safari to the Trip 

Major highways have one or more wildlife attractions located near the highway. It would be a nice experience to see animals you have not seen before in your life. It will also be a lovely surprise for the kids to see some wild animals for the first time in their life. After a long and tedious journey, it is usually nice to just glide through a park so that you and the rest of the group can have a welcome distraction.   

Leave Details Behind 

Most of the time you find that the apprehension of going on a long road trip makes you forget the most important thing about any journey – safety. One way that you can be sure of help when something happens is by telling someone else about your travel plans. If you are not at a specific place after a given period of time, the person will let the authorities know. It is also good to let someone know by calling every time you reach a given place.   

Learn Some Road Trip Games 

There are several games that have been invented both for the adults and the young. These road games are not only for entertaining the travellers but also to keep everyone alert. Some of these games include “I Spy” which involves clues and guesses. Such games will keep everyone engaged and entertained for a long period of time.   

Road trip tips
Road trip tips

Carry Some Snacks 

If the journey is long, getting cranky is easy especially for the young ones. This usually happens due to hunger. Well, you can tackle this problem by carrying snacks of various types for the children as well as adults. Make sure these snacks are appropriate, fun and delicious for everyone that is on the trip.

Also have snacks that are specific for a particular type of condition suffered by any member of the group. This applies for people suffering from conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and ulcers.   

Choose Quiet Rest Stops 

Along the way, you need to stop time and again to rest. When choosing ideal places for stopovers, consider quiet rest stops especially if you have children in the group. Such stops will offer you a more relaxed environment to sit and cool off the hassle of the journey.

Additionally, the children will have enough space to run around before getting into the car for the second stretch of the trip.   

Bring Great Music or Audio Books with You 

Every road trip needs some music. You need to sit down and find out what every member of the group likes in terms of music and collect enough last the whole trip. Many people who have been on road trips can remember what happened on the trip when a particular song plays on the stereo.

It is also advisable for you to get sing-along music that all of you can join in and sing. You can also get some audio books especially for the little ones.   

Double Check Your Vehicle 

The vehicle is what will make or break the trip. Make sure the vehicle is spacious enough to hold all the travellers and in a condition to move long distances. You can have a mechanic to double check everything just to be on the safe side. If you have any doubts about the car, you can go ahead and rent one for the trip. When it comes to such a situation, you need to work with a reliable car rental service.   

Here are the top features to consider in a vehicle when taking a road trip:

Exterior

Whether a fan of driving an SUV or wanting to ride in a sedan, there are a few features that are important when driving through different climates and various environments. Depending on individual preference, these features to be helpful during a road trip.

  • Privacy Windows Featured in Rear Sides and Back of Vehicle

Interior

The most important thing I am looking for when on a road trip is to be comfortable for consecutive hours at a time. This means I need room to store all my gadgets, maps and snacks within close proximity to reach when needed. Also, breathing in fresh air, singing to the top of my lungs and knowing which direction I’m headed tops my list.

So while most of these popular features are optional, they sure do make the road trip more enjoyable.

  • Dual Zone Automatic Climate Control with AC and Heat
  • Sterio System with USB port and iPod Connectivity
  • Sunroof or Moonroof
  • Bluetooth
  • Dashboard Navigation System
  • Power door locks and Power Windows
  • Auxillary Power Outlets
  • Cruise Control
  • Cup Holders, Cargo Space and Overhead-and-Center Consoles

Related Read: Tips for Sleeping in Your Car

Performance

As long as you can get from point A to point B shouldn’t be your only worry, having a high-performing and safe vehicle is very important to consider before going on a road trip. Make sure the vehicle’s breaks work, engine is tuned-up and any other mechanical specs are up to par before hitting the open road.

But besides the standard performance of the vehicle, these features make the road trip more conveniant and safe.

  • Rear Parking Assist Sonar
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Advance Airbag System
  • Tire Pressure Monitor System
Road trip tips
Road trip tips

The do’s and don’ts of road trip safety

Aside from choosing the right tunes to play on the radio, staying safe on your road trip is vital to having a trip that will make the memory books.

Follow these road trip tips for safety do’s and don’ts before your wheels hit the pavement!

  • DO try to blend in. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist, but being confident is one of the top theft deterrents, so trying to blend in like a local allows you to exude just that. Don’t leave maps out in plain sight, and if you need to consult one while walking around town, do it discreetly. Follow up our guidelines of how to avoid pickpockets.
  • DON’T try to reach the next gas station when you’re at a quarter tank. If you’re not familiar with the route, don’t risk it! Being stalled out on the side of the road with no gas and maybe even a lack of cell phone reception is certainly a safety risk.
  • DO look at your backseat when you get into your car. We hope your road trip will only be a happy one, but crimes do happen. Take a look in your backseat to make sure no one has stowed themselves inside, ready to take control of your car when you put the key in the ignition.
  • DON’T keep washer fluid or hard objects in your backseat. If you’re going 45 mph and need to stop suddenly, you can imagine how any fluids, toys, or books are going to fly around your car. Harmful fluids can even open and spill. Keep it neat and trim for you and your passengers’ safety.
  • DO stash an emergency kit in your car. The old adage about being safe than sorry always rings true. Keep a box in your car filled with water, snacks, a flashlight, a warm blanket, flares, a first-aid kit, and jumper cables if your battery dies.
  • DON’T stay on the first floor of a motel. It may be easier to carry your luggage in to a room on the first floor after a long day of driving, but it’s also easier for thieves to break into your room. Even better – get a room facing the parking lot so you can keep an eye on your vehicle. Read all about the difference between a motel and a hotel.

Road trips are a rite of passage and are often unforgettable adventures, but it’s important to keep an eye on your personal safety and security while traveling on the open road. Use your common sense, and if a situation or area doesn’t feel right, go with your gut and get out of it!

Travelling is not easy especially when you have children in tow. You need to make sure you meet the demands of both the young and the mature so that you can make the trip amazing. Use the above road trip tips to make your road trip safe and memorable.


The Ultimate Guide to Staying at a Hostel

Yesterday one of my good friends asked me a few questions about hostels in prep for a trip to New England and today, she came back with a few more… and it dawned on me- even domestic (read: in the US) staying at a hostel is still pretty foreign to most people.

Well, I’m here to help!

I’ve stayed in hostels since I was 16 and travelled all around the world so I have a really good understanding on what makes hostels tick, what to do, what NOT to do and where to go.

But first I want to explain how freakin’ awesome and amazing hostels are so you understand why you should consider staying in one.

Staying at a Hostel in Los Angeles
Freeland Los Angeles – a top hostel in the USA. Image courtesy of HostelWorld.

Top reasons to stay at a hostel

Price. Hostels are cheap (obviously).

Some even dirt cheap (and some not so cheap but we can get into that later.) Traveling solo or even with a friend, you would be hard pressed to find any accommodation as low in cost with as many amenities as your typical hostel. Which brings us to…

Fun! Hostels are fun, seriously seriously fun. 

Those ‘amenities’ mentioned in 1. can be anything from a rocking bar inside the hostel to pool tables, grills, a full kitchen, swimming pools, community guitars- you name it, I’ve probably found it for free (or cheap) to use in a hostel.

Location. 

Hostels cram a bunch of people single room with bunk beds (you can pay more for a private room but why would you?) which means they bring in some cash during busy seasons which really means they can afford the high rents in busy, “travel destination” locations.

  • This a. ROCKS because you are in the middle of some awesome city
  • and b. means the hostel is usually somehow or another accessible by public transit which is always great too.

The Staff and other Backpackers. 

80% of traveling is the people you meet and same goes for staying in hostels. From the young, vagabond staff to other travelers staying in the hostel, everyone is there to have a good time. Most hostels have activities set up from city tours, pub crawls, themed dinner nights and even open mic nights to bring everyone together but even without all of that fun activity stuff, staying in a hostel is an amazing social experience that you just don’t get at your local Motel.

There are hostels all over the US so even if you just want to plan a rowdy weekend getaway by yourself or with a few friends, there is probably a rockin-good-time (and sometimes totally-chilled-out) hostel much closer to you than you think.

If you wanna check out hostels in your area, I recommend hostelworld.com because of their rating system (you can get a better idea of what to expect before you go.) I can play around on that website for hours, looking at prices and rating of where I want to go and what activities the hostels have planned. It’s rad. Go ahead and check it out. Really. I’ll wait…

Welcome back! I’m assuming now you are super stoked to finally plan that crazy weekend trip with your best girlfriend so I’ll give you a few tips on what to do when you get there.

BOOK YOUR NEXT HOSTEL STAY ON HOSTELWORLD!

HI San Francisco - City Centre
HI San Francisco – City Centre – a top hostel in the USA. Image courtesy of HostelWorld.

Tips for staying in hostels

Get a travel backpack

Backpackers usually stay in hostels and backpackers are called ‘backpackers’ because they (usually) carry a backpack… not a suitcase. Hostels are notoriously NOT roller suitcase friendly. There are typically stairs (if you are physically disabled there are certainly options here though) and tight quarters.

If all you have as a big ass roller suitcase than by all means, take that but if you have carry options of a duffle bag and a backpack instead, I would recommend that simply for easier mobility.

We highly recommend any of the Osprey Farpoint backpacks. They offer various sizes for both men and women.

You need to lock your shit up. 

No, hostels are not the hangout places for shady characters and thieves like some people have made them out to be but here’s the deal- just like you would lock your car even if you live in a safe neighborhood, you should lock up your stuff, even if you’re in a safe hostel.

There are a few ways to do this. Most hostels will assign you a locker with your bunk bed that you can put your stuff into and most of the time it is in the same room as the beds. It’s super convenient but you NEED TO BRING YOUR OWN LOCK. Let me repeat that, for 98% of any hostels that you stay in you will NEED TO BRING YOUR OWN LOCK. A little combination lock from Amazon is really all you need. I personally use a little Burton snowboard lock that stretches so I can lock it around my pack on trains or buses but totally anything will do.

Hostel Kitchen Etiquette. 

An awesomely amazing thing about most hostels is access to a full kitchen. Not only is it a really fun way to meet people (in the AM cooking breakfast, at night making beer munchies) but it is also super super super convenient (can you say, beer fridge?!)

Check out what’s stocked in the kitchen before you go shopping so you know better what to buy. A lot of time, people will stay at the hostel and leave whatever extra food they bought behind which usually becomes a communal food supply. Anything from bread to condiments to boxed meals- you can totally score big in the hostel kitchen. Most stuff will be labeled or marked and obviously, don’t take anything that’s not yours but it’s safe to say the huge ass container of generic brand peanut butter that’s not specifically labeled “STAFF” is fair game.

Always clean up after yourself (cleaning supplies provided) and label your stuff with a Sharpee or Post It… and I always write “COMMUNAL” or “Up for grabs” on the stuff that I leave behind.

Kitchen at the Firehouse Hostel, Austin
Kitchen at the Firehouse Hostel, Austin – a top hostel in the USA. Image courtesy of HostelWorld.

Lock Outs and “Work to Stay”.

Some hostels have something called a LOCK OUT which is anytime during the day that the staff basically kicks out everyone in the hostel for a few hours to clean and prep or whatever. Lock Outs are usually boldly stated on whatever you sign to check in and I have to say, they are not common in US hostels and seem to be fading in Europe as well. Some people get all bent out of shape about Lock Outs but I figure as long as it’s not before 10am, who cares? A little forced sightseeing never hurt anyone (and that’s kind of why you’re traveling, right?)

“Work to Stay” is a really cool thing about hostels too. Work to Stay means just that if you are planning on staying in a place for a week or more, sometimes you can talk to the staff there and set it up that you work a few shifts in return for free room and board. Super super money saver and it gives you a whole new perspective on where ever you’re traveling through as well. Admittedly, that is more of an “experienced” hostellers’ thing but still rad.

The Layout and What to Bring when staying at a hostel (that’s different from a hotel)

Hostels come in all different shapes and sizes (isn’t that cute?) and I love them all.

Your average hostel is pretty predicable though so let me walk you through one…

Most hostels have a courtyard or outdoor space set up with some sort of chairs and tables and a grill. The courtyard is where everyone meets up and chills at night either before they hit the bars or if money is tight, they just hang out there all night. If you want a quieter hostel experience, request a dorm room away from the outdoor area.

Lobby/ Front Desk. 

Hostel lobbies and front desks are super laid back so don’t expect a door man or even any help with your luggage. The staff is usually some 20-something who came to visit from some foreign place and never went back and almost always they are super nice and helpful.

Dorm Rooms. 

Down the hall from the ‘lobby‘ (if you can call it that) will most likely be the dorm rooms. The rooms vary as much as the hostels themselves with 2 to 12 bunk beds, single sex, shared (which means both guys and girls) and even private if you want to pay more (again, why?) You walk into your little assigned room and throw some clothes on a open, clean bed, sometimes tape the little paper they gave you on the bedpost and BAM- you’ve claimed your bed (if the bed number wasn’t already assigned, those are the really organized hostels though.)

Bathrooms. 

Think college dormitory bathrooms. Shower stalls that you walk your little shower bag or caddy to, stalled toilets and usually outlets by the sinks to shave and blow dry your hair. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness of most hostel bathrooms. Some people wear flip flops in the shower, some don’t. Some people walk from their dorm room to the bathroom in just their towel, some change in the actual bathroom. Whatevs.

Community Rooms and Kitchen. 

Aside from the outdoor area, front desk, dorms and bathrooms, the communal rooms are a toss up. A hostel in Hollywood has an upstairs bar with lounge couches, a big screen TV and fooseball table. A hostel in Amsterdam has a pool table, bar and “smoking room” complete with a communal bong and beanbag chairs. Some hostels have night clubs, some have computer rooms, usually you can get an idea of what the hostel has from their website but if not, it’s just going to have to be a fun surprise!

Staying at a hostel in New York
The Local NYC- a top hostel in the USA. Image courtesy of HostelWorld.

What to Bring. 

When you pack, pack kind of like you are crashing at a friend’s house. Bring your own toiletries and towel but almost always the hostel provides bedding (it will be boldly stated if not the case.) Bring a lock and your sparkling attitude and you’re set!

Ready, set, EXPLORE!

Book your next hostel stay on HostelWorld!