Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

These road trip tips are as much for me as they are for you, because when I’m not traveling, I’m thinking about traveling.

With five (!) cross-country moves, a shorter move from Reno to Boise, and two long road trips, our family is used to, if not good, at travel. In 2012, we took a 34-day road trip through the U.S.; in 2015 we did a 25-day trip. In 2016, we spent a month in Europe…but that’s another story.

There are advantages to road trips over cross country moves: We don’t have to pack the whole house (or try and sell it!) and because one of us isn’t driving a moving truck, we actually get to be in the same vehicle.

In taking these longer road trips, we learned a few things:

  • When you’re traveling by car and have limited space, plan ahead.
    • Take the empty suitcases, cooler, and other bags to the car to see whether or not everything will fit. We thought we would need a $400 rooftop carrier, but it turns out that by removing a seat in the van, we could fit everything inside – improving aerodynamics for better gas mileage and preserving that money for fuel costs.
    • Plan well in advance to be sure you’ll have all the medicines you need to last through the entire trip. It took us nearly a month to jump through hoops with doctors and insurance companies to obtain enough of our son’s seizure meds to last until we could get home.
  • Put a bin or box in a strategic spot in your home. As you think of things you know you must have for travel, add them to it.
  • Half of what you think you need you won’t, and there will always be something you wish you’d brought. Be mentally flexible.
  • Bring that spare pair of glasses you replaced last year. The prescription might not be perfect, but it will be much better nothing if your glasses break when you’re 2,500 miles from home.
  • Put together a 3-ring binder with printed maps to your destinations or bring a road atlas. You never know when you’ll need something more than a GPS to figure out where you are.
  • Even though it may take up precious space, don’t travel without a roadside kit that contains flares, chains, and a first-aid kit.

We start planning our trips more than a year in advance. We already know that in 2019, we’ll be doing a road trip across Canada and that in 2020 we want to be in Europe for Christmas. The planning – and saving money – for those trips has already begun. I’ll start planning the route a year before we go and shopping for AirBnBs and hotels 8 months before the trip. (Our trip to Europe was built around our ability to get the perfect AirBnB in Berlin for four nights at a steal of a price. I booked that, then planned the rest of the trip on either side of that stay).

Road trips are fun, if you love to travel…but they can be a lot of work and a lot of stress if you aren’t willing to embrace the adventure and unknowns that are part of it.