Preparing for the Open Road: The Art of the Great American Road Trip
The great American road trip in many ways is a right of passage. Many may remember their very first time piling into the family car and hitting the open road to visit family far from home, or for a vacation.
Regardless, a road trip is a path toward realizing the world beyond the confines of your neighborhood, and it begins the intimate learning of new places, customs, and people.
If you’ve ever traveled far from home, you’ll also know the feeling of being vulnerable once you find yourself outside of your familiar landscape and your comfort zone. A lot can happen when you’re on the road, and most issues that arise are hard to plan ahead for.
Here, we’ll explore how to keep safe while on the road and traveling far from home.
Cover Your Bases
While you might be itching to get on the road and have the wind in your hair, there are a few things you need to cover first to ensure your safety.
First, you’ll need to get your car tuned up, especially if it’s been a while since your last service visit. Below you’ll find a simple checklist to go over before hitting the road:
- Tire pressure and tread: Ensure that your tires are in good traveling condition and that they’re properly inflated.
- Oil and Fluids: Get your oil and filter changed and top off all fluids; window, brake, transmission, etc.
- Check brakes and rotors for wear.
- Check wipers, headlights, turn signals, hazards, and taillights for proper functionality.
- Clean all windows (inside and out) to ensure optimal visibility.
While the checklist above is just a template to follow, you’ll also want to clean out your car to make room for all the extra stuff you’ll be bringing. Besides, nobody likes riding in a mess.
Last but not least, ensure that you’re adequately covered by your insurance. If you find that your insurance policy lacks any coverage, consider obtaining a quote for insurance to check for a better policy.
Planning the Trip
Possibly the most fun part of the road trip is the planning phase. This is where you do all of your research to find the best places to go, and the best routes to get there.
You’re sure to find a number of interesting places around the country to visit, so if you have a few options in mind, consider planning a route to see a few of these places along the way to your main destination.
Today, we have several forms of road trip software and travel guides that you can use to help develop your road trip itinerary. While it’s convenient to use apps on your phone or GPS models available in your car, a travel guide or atlas will offer you many choices to consider as well.
Road Trip Atlas
A road trip atlas is basically a map with highlights for points of interest around the country. No matter which road you’re choosing to take, the road trip atlas is like a side-seat tour guide of sorts. This will tell you what places you might like to stop and see while you’re traveling.
Perhaps you want to go to the Grand Canyon. Well, you might not know that there are several interesting places along the way to the Grand Canyon such as the Hoover Dam, if you’re traveling from west to east.
The Painted Desert and Meteor Crater are nearby attractions that you might like to explore in Arizona as well. A road trip atlas will showcase these locations and offer you several routes to getting there.
Remember to Enjoy the Journey
Taking a road trip is often said to be a new form of the human migration experience. The days of human beings migrating in small groups across vast oceans and countryside have long since faded away into history.
Today, we take these journeys in the form of vacations and road trips. No matter where you’re heading, or what your destination is, remember that it’s the journey where you learn the most about other places and yourself. And, sometimes, the journey can be the destination.
Just the act of traveling itself can be an invigorating experience, one that emboldens us to seek out and explore new lands. All this said, the road trip will always be an intimate part of the human experience.