For as long as I can remember, I have camped every summer. According to my Dad, they took us camping even when we were so little we couldn’t remember. Even to this day I go camping annually with my family. The only difference now compared to when we were kids? The fiancé comes along for the ride!
Our family is pretty big on using tents. No campers for us! Not that there’s anything wrong with them! There’s just something about the way the zippers sound early in the morning and the smell of the air when the only thing separating you from the open sky is a thin layer of canvas. So until I have the money to shell out for a vintage trailer and the SUV to pull it, tents it is.
I love pretty much everything about camping. I like the detachment from “the norm”. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep you’re outside. Charging electronics becomes difficult, so sometimes you go without. Cell service may be patchy anyway, so might as well leave it in the car. You forget to check Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and instead focus on the silence and beauty of nature around you, and the friends and family beside you.
I also particularly enjoy the road trip. Our family always chooses a location out of state, and usually it ends up being 8 or so hours away. We shock people with the stories of our crazy road trips. One year, we drove from our home in Ohio all the way to Yosemite National Park in California in only two and a half days! On that same trip, we went to a wedding in Monterey, CA, and hightailed it back to Ohio in just two and half days yet again. People still think we’re insane for that one (and maybe we are!). We’ve also driven to Glacier National Park in Montana, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and Bar Harbor, Maine (just to name a few).
Due to all of this “experience”, I like to consider myself a road trip warrior. I always know exactly what to bring to make the ride a little bit easier. This year we are heading to Cape Cod, MA. From home, it’s about a ten-hour drive to our campsite. Per usual, our family will do a straight shot drive stopping only for restroom breaks and food so we can arrive with plenty of daylight to set up camp and relax for the first evening.
For most people, this is crazy. For us? It’s tradition!
Here are some of my tips for preparing for a big road trip:
Always come prepared with a reading list!
If you’re a book nerd, a road trip is the perfect time to catch up on a series you’ve been dying to read or a novel you haven’t had time to finish. I read quite a bit, averaging two books a month this year so far. Mind you, some of those books are 500+ pages! So yes, I’m proud of this average thank-you-very-much. I’m changing it up a little on this trip by downloading books onto my iPad on the Kindle app to help save space in the car. I normally bring a bookbag with about 5 or so books from the local library, which takes up a lot of space when you’re putting five people in a Toyata Forerunner for 10 hours with blankets, pillows, food, drinks, shoes, etc.
For the trip this year, I chose to download the following books:
- Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Mass (560 pages) (third in the Throne of Glass series). I picked up the Throne of Glass series after reading her Court of Thorns and Roses series late last year. I actually just finished the third book of that series last month! Even though Throne of Glass is the older series from her, I didn’t discover it until I’d finished the second Court book and gone looking for the third. I’m very excited to see when the next installment comes out! Until then, I’ll be pecking away at the ToG series. For some reason, it’s a little harder for me to get through. Maybe because all of the books are so long! But I do enjoy the story and can’t wait to pick it back up on this trip.
- Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Mass (661 pages) (fourth book in the ToG series)
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (863 pages, first in its series). I’ve been torn for the past few years about whether or not to pick up this book. I finally decided that this would be a good trip to do it, given I can get through the others on my list. If not, it’ll be sitting in my Kindle app waiting for when I’m ready! I know nothing about this series at all (although I do notice it is also a TV series), so it’ll be exciting to dive in to something new.
Wear something comfortable!
I’m often wearing leggings and a tshirt or tank top on the road trips (if not for the entire duration of the vacation) and my go-to shoe for the car is obviously flip flops. This makes it easy to be flexible in the car and stay comfortable. It’s always a good idea to have a hoodie in case your driver likes it a little chilly (ahem, Dad). For our trips, we usually leave around three in the morning, so we will also have our pillows and blankets and whoever isn’t the copilot and staying up with the driver quickly falls asleep for the first leg of the trip.
Have a good, reliable pair of headphones!
For longer trips, I don’t recommend wireless headphones. Having a pair die halfway through a road trip and needing to re-charge can be painful, especially if the driver has a taste in music you don’t necessarily love (ahem, Dad with the jazz). This year I’m excited to have my Steelseries Arctis 5 headset. I bought them at PAX East earlier this year, and I love that they can be used for pretty much any device. I primarily use them for gaming on my desktop! Luckily, they came with two adapters: one USB and one AUX. I simply swap out the adapters based on my needs. The sound is really good and they are the only over-ear headphones I’ve ever owned that don’t give me headaches because of my glasses. Also, the cloth strap is interchangeable and comes in a bunch of different designs! I have the black and white geometric standard strap and a hot pink one that I purchased at the trade show.. I can’t wait to have them on this road trip!
Although the potential extra restroom breaks may seem annoying, it’s so important to remember to stay hydrated on long trips. I’m guilty of not drinking water because I don’t want to be “that person” asking to pull over to the next rest stop. Unfortunately being dehydrated is very uncomfortable, and really really not good for you. This year I’m definitely going to try to do better. I’m bringing my 25 oz S’well bottle with me to refill at each stop. I never expected these bottles to actually work as good as they say they do (I’m a skeptic, what can I say). Well trust me, they work. And they’re awesome. I had ice water in my bottle one day and left it in my car on a 90 degree sunny day for four hours, and the ice was still solid when I came back! I was floored. I love this bottle! I have the limited edition S’well bottle that came with my Winc / Societe Summer Water summer club subscription, but I’ve been eyeing this Milky Way design for a few weeks now.
Have healthy snacks!
It’s so tempting to stock up on chips and candy and junk food when traveling. Those foods always come in convenient packaging and taste really good, and hey it’s vacation so why not right? If you’re trying to be a bit more conscious about your health, consider bringing a variety of more nutritious options:
- Beef jerky (or any jerky). I know it’s not always necessarily “healthy”, but as far as quick snacks go it’s good in protein and generally more satisfying. I always feel fuller after a few pieces of jerky than half a can of potato chips!
- These are convenient because they can travel at room temperature and still taste just fine. Honeycrisp are my personal favorite.
- Trail mix. And I’m not talking about the ones loaded with candy. Try finding a mix that has unsalted nuts and dried fruits in it!
- PB&J. If you don’t mind having a little cooler near your feet, having a PB&J sandwich on hand could really hit the spot. Again, not the healthiest thing in the world. But it sure beats a burger from the drive-thru!
If you have anything you need to study for, take advantage of this time! I know it’s vacation, but you will feel so much better when you reach your destination knowing you took care of a less-than-desirable task. I’ll be studying for the FAR section of the CPA exam during this trip. I’m sitting on October 16th, so I have a lot of review to do before then!
Play some games!
If you aren’t big on reading, you could always bring a portable gaming device with you. My sister, her fiancé, and my fiancé are all bringing their Nintendo DS and games with them. That’s definitely a fun way to spend some of the trip! And if you’re not into that either, well. I’m not sure what to tell you. Maybe keep sleeping until you arrive at your destination? Play travel games with other people in the car? My family is pretty quiet, so reading, sleeping, and gaming is pretty much the extent of our trip. Obviously, there will be conversation sprinkled in of course to keep the driver occupied as well!
This year will be our second time visiting the Cape, and I couldn’t be more excited! It has been a handful of years since, and my memories of it are waning. I can’t want to re-live some of the experiences we had before, as well as create new memories!
If you want to follow along with the trip, make sure to follow me on Instagram (@stylegeeknaturefreak)!