At the end of May I jumped on board a train in Halifax, Nova Scotia with my friend/cohort Candice Walsh headed for Montreal and eventually Kingston, Ontario. Once we arrived in Kingston we picked up a car from HitTheRoad.ca and continued our Cross Canada Adventure on the road, destination Vancouver. This was the longest road trip that I have ever done (being the sole driver), Candice and I survived our 14 days on the road and we still happily remain friends.
The summer time is the season for road trips and the following is my top ten tips for surviving a road trip.
No explanation. Trail mix is good. Having snacks already, means less stops. Raisins really suck sometimes when all you want are some M&Ms and you keep getting a handful of raisins because your passenger keeps eating everything but… ahem Candice
2. Name inanimate objects
Candice and I crossed the country in a bright yellow Mazda Protege. The car was from www.hittheroad.ca and had the words “Daytona Beach Bad Boy” written on either side. We instantly, of course named our car “Bad Boy” – well we tested a few names out but this is the only one that appropriately stuck. Second we named our Tom Tom GPS. It had a female voice and she seemed to have a bit of an attitude and never really said please or thank you, also she often didn’t even know where she was going, like that time we drove past our hotel or that other time she took us to a cul-de-sac and she said turn left… We decided she was slightly bitchy, so we tried to think of a name that would suit that character trait. Veronica. It was perfect. Now instead of just the two of us driving in the car to talk to we had 2 other “things” to talk to/at and surprisingly helped keep the two of us sane… well kind of.
3. Sing every song at the top of your lungs
This one is obvious. A road trip just isn’t a road trip if you aren’t singing your lungs out to every song good or bad that comes on the radio. I also demanded that Candice play “Danger Zone” from the movie Top Gun at least once a day.
4. Don’t wait until the gas light comes on
You may regret this, we almost did. I swear we pulled into a gas station in the middle of nowhere Ontario on fumes, barely. Fill up at the beginning of ever day and as soon as the tank gets to only 1/4 left start looking for that next gas station.
5. Top up your fluids
Make sure your car is in good working order before you take on a road trip of any size. Get an oil change done, check your brakes and top up your fluids. On our road trip we had to stop at the gas station to clean bugs off our windshield more often then we actually had to stop to fill up with gas. Windshield wiper fluid is very important! The bugs however were so stuck on, the fluid and wipers unfortunately weren’t good enough to clean the window and I had to keep doing it manually.
6. Make yourself comfortable
If you are the driver maybe not “too” comfortable as you don’t want to become drowsy. You are going to be in this vehicle for quite sometime, as a passenger Candice recommends a snuggie as being vital, not only can you cozy up with it for a nap, but conveniently your arms are free, and it also works good as a pillow, cover from the sunlight for your laptop or it makes a great bright blue burka like cover for yourself if trying to sleep in public (like on the train). For the driver, have your seat set up right and make sure the a/c works.
7. Don’t drive at night time
If you can avoid driving at night then definitely do it. When driving at night not only do you miss seeing things in the daylight (like Candice missing seeing the rockies for the first time ever because it was pitch black out) but you also increase your risk of getting lost and getting in an accident or hitting an animal, etc. if driving in the dark. Be safe!
8. Navigation tools are key
Unless you are going on a road trip with no exact destination then I definitely recommend not just one but several navigation tools for your trip. We had our iphones, maps from CAA (Canadian AAA, and they were free!) and a Tom Tom. I thought we would be fine with just our phones but silly me forgot that I may loose cell phone service in rural areas, like MOST of Ontario.
9. Be prepared
You never know when you might have to change a tire yourself, have a first aid kit with you, if you drive a car it should just be a skill that you know how to change a tire, I definitely recommend learning how to do this before a big road trip. Get a car club membership, like CAA or AAA in the US. If you run out of gas they will bring you some, if you break down they will tow you, if you have a flat tire and you can’t change it yourself they will do it for you annnnndd you can get discounts on everything with your membership card. From gas to movie theater tickets or entrance costs at museums, even hotel bookings, if you have a car club card most likely you will get a discount on something where ever you are.
This one is easy, just have fun. Remember that you are on this road trip to explore new things, don’t get stressed out when you make a wrong turn, don’t let yourself get angry at your other road trip passengers, play car games, pick up hitchhikers, and remember not everything can go as planned.
If you follow these tips you are sure to have a smooth and awesome road trip.
Are there any tips that I forgot? Please share yours below!