Top ten tips for surviving a road trip

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 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.

1. Go to Costco and buy the largest bag of trail mix ever made for the 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 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.

10. Have fun!

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! :)

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  • Reply
    April 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    haha love it.. I have also named our GPS Veronica =)

  • Reply
    Cailin’s Travels A-Z | Cailin Travels
    December 16, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    […] a novelty to me so whenever I can take them in Europe I get excited. I do also enjoy planes, cars (road trips!) and I have yet to try a dogsled or segway but I’m sure they could be […]

  • Reply
    September 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Having driven from the UK to the Gambia and also to Kyrgyzstan I absolutely agree with your tips. Although my team mate singing ‘Danger Zone’ could be a negative! Also when driving abroad, keep reminding yourself which side of the road you need to be on! However, sometimes in Africa it is hard to tell.

    Love the blog, regards


  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    August 25, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Great tips. But I’d be picking out all the m&m’s out of that Costco trail mix causing trouble with my road trip travel mates.

  • Reply
    August 17, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Awesome tips! I follow some of them too, especially the navigation tool. Of course, apart from topping the fluids in the car, we should also remember to top up our own fluids. I bring plenty of water and snacks on the road! ;)

  • Reply
    August 11, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Great post.I like it very much.I am agree with all the tips especially that avoid driving at night.

  • Reply
    August 11, 2011 at 3:04 am

    That you named your Tom Tom Veronica is hilarious. I have a tip: should u get a flat, don’t put on donut and attempt The remnants of the tote on the side of the road. The metal thing is a wheel. I learned the almost really hard way.

  • Reply
    August 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I agree- having snacks on a road trip is key!

  • Reply
    July 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Great tips! I love trail mix, so I’m definitely going to have to get the wholesale size. My friends and I like to play the “Name Game” with movies (name a movie using the last letter of the previous title). It keeps us entertained for a while!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    If anyone knows how to have fun, it’s you girls!

  • Reply
    Bob Crunch
    July 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Great tips. I wish I could of traveled with you guys, you seem so entertaining and there would never be a dull moment. Loved the coming up with names with inanimate objects!

  • Reply
    July 25, 2011 at 3:54 am

    Great tips- especially about driving on empty! My other tip would be to stop at bizarre attractions or things that would be a funny photo opp. Those are the memories I always remember the most!

  • Reply
    Caz Makepeace
    July 25, 2011 at 2:38 am

    Great tips! I love road trips.We love naming our cars, and a snacks are a must, as is singing at the top of your voice, both of which our daughter demands we do. Eye spy also is a must for us now.

  • Reply
    Don Faust
    July 24, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    We always play Name That Tune, where we hum or use “la la las” in place of the words – and we keep score.

    Yes, keeping gas in the car is important… especially if you are driving in remote areas where gas stations don’t appear too regularly. I remember in 2006, I was driving across the panhandle of Texas from Oklahoma on I40 – that is the world’s most boring stretch, but I was heading to beautiful Taos, NM. Once you leave Oklahoma City, there is not much until you get to Amarillo, TX. I was at a rest stop on the panhandle, and I had a quarter tank of gas. The next gas station was off the interstate about 10 miles and a total of 60 miles away. Not a problem with a quarter tank, huh? Well, my Jeep doesn’t do to well on gas to begin with, and I had the top down and I was driving into a heavy wind. I was on empty before I even left the interstate – I was sweating it, thinking I might run out in the panhandle, in the middle of nowhere – 90+ degrees. I finally got into this little depressed town that used to look like it had better days as an oil town. The first gas station my GPS took me to was boarded up. I finally found the next one, filled up, and from that point on, I filled up at a half tank to be safe.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Always love a good road trip!

  • Reply
    Michael Figueiredo
    July 24, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Great tips for road tripping! I think I need to go to Costco to get some trail mix. I can’t believe how big that bag is!

  • Reply
    Nomadic Samuel
    July 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    This was a fun read. I like your first tip: Go to Costco and buy the largest bag of trail mix ever made for the trip. The only problem is that I would likely gobble it all very quickly :P

    • Reply
      July 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      thanks Samuel!!! we ate a lot of it, probably more than we needed! hahaha

  • Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Oooh! These are great tips! My friend and I are roadtriping out to the East Coast later this summer, and these will definitely come in handy!! First stop: my local Costco ;D

    • Reply
      July 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks Audrey! Let me know if you make it to Halifax! :)

  • Reply
    July 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Windshield washer fluid rarely works well on bugs that have been implanted in the glass. Doing over 100 will do that. Best cleaner – a can of Coke or Pepsi. Use the hi-test, must be the sugar that works…

    • Reply
      July 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      What is the point of windshield washer fluid then!? There were so many bugs one day I had to stop almost every 30mins! haha

    • Reply
      July 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Good tip about the pop though, hadn’t heard that one before! :)

  • Reply
    July 13, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Great tips. I always take trail mix, but never thought to pick up a bag at Costco. And yes to a CAA membership. I know my dad tried to show me how to change a tire, but it didn’t sink in – at all. But I always have my CAA card just in case.

    • Reply
      July 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks Alouise! :)
      I think we probably could of used 2 or 3 of those bags of Costco trail mix, we went through it quick! haha

  • Reply
    July 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Love your tips!!! Naming inanimate objects is vital for a fun filled road trip!!

    • Reply
      July 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks Elise!! Candice and I had a great road trip and that definitely helped us not go too crazy with each other… or did it? haha

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