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Planning the Perfect Road Trip for You

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

In today’s post I will be discussing what it takes to plan your perfect road trip as well as outlining my upcoming road trip at the end of May.

 

Planning Your Trip Tips

The first thing I want to discuss are 7 tips on how to plan the best trip for you. I will expand on most of these in the next section as well.

How to plan your route; This is the time to get out a map and plan your route. Start by finding the main destinations that you are hoping to visit on the map, then by linking them together on the most rational route. Use an app like Google maps to find driving times and zoom in on cities along the way worth a stop or an overnight (specially to break up long drives). It is important to be realistic about how much you and/or your travel partners can safety drive in a day. Sure, it’s possible to drive from Prince George to Saskatoon in 15 hours, but do you really want to? And more importantly, should you? Also don’t forget to pack a paper map of your route. Cell service could be sparse, and you’ll be grateful for a backup when your map app won’t load.

Book Ahead; While some of the beauty of driving is letting the road lead you, there are still some benefits to reserving accommodations ahead of time. If you’re planning to camp many prime campsites book up in the summer months – especially now that more people are travelling closer to home. Apps like Hipcamp can help you find places to camp, and many national parks maintain reservation systems on their websites. Speaking of parks, if you’re hoping to visit a national park like Jasper or Banff and stay at one of their lodges, you’ll want to make reservations as son as you can. Elsewhere on the road, you’ll likely be able to find hotel vacancies as needed but booking even a few days ahead can help provide peace of mind and a cozy bed to look forward to.

Prep your vehicle; Before you head out, it’s important to know that your chariot is up for the journey. Take your car in for a service appointment to check that the oil, fluids, tires, and air filters are in top shape. You’ll also want to check that all the lights and blinkers are functioning properly and that your spare tire and jack are in good condition. A safety kit is also important and should include things like jumper cables, a flashlight, reflective triangles, and water. If you have roadside service like AAA, keep your membership information and important phone numbers where you can access them easily. Sync your phone to the car’s Bluetooth or bring along an AUX cable for music and GPS directions, and don’t forget a spare car charger. For me I actually bought a Bluetooth car charger that connects to a radio frequency so I can play music and charge my phone all within one accessory as I don’t have a Bluetooth radio or AUX plug-in. Use what works for you. It is also smart to give your travel partner a spare car key in case yours gets lost. Are your renting your ride? Make sure that you check your rental agreement for allocated mileage and emergency contact information. You might also consider a one-way rental so you can drop the car at your final destination and hop on a flight to get home. If you’re renting a car abroad, be sure that you check the country’s driving regulations to see if you’ll need an international driver’s license.

Keep snacks at the ready; Road trips are also a great time to explore local cuisine, even of the fast-food variety. Finding restaurants outside of the major chains helps contribute to local economy and support a small business – plus there’s nothing like a handmade milkshake and fries from a classic diner on the road. For all the time in between, pack a cooler of healthy snacks like veggies and hummus, fruits, and sandwich supplies – plus some sweet treats that won’t melt if left in a hot car. Having snacks on hand will help cut down on costs and time spent on stops. A knife and small cutting board are also valuable add-ons for dining while driving, and a refillable water bottle is a must.

Plan en route entertainment; While looking out the window longingly for hours upon hours is one way to pass the time, you’re likely to want a bit of entertainment on the road. Diving into a podcast or listening to an audiobook is the road trip equivalent of an airplane movie. I started listening to podcasts for the most part last year and I downloaded a few to listen to when I went camping last June as a way to have something different to listen to rather than music and I love them. Poll your friends for their favorites. This is a great chance to explore the music of wherever you’re traveling to whether that’s tuning into a local radio station or creating a city-by-city playlist of artists in the area. Whatever you choose, make sure to download enough options offline so you can listen when cell service isn’t available. It’s also a great time to relive the road trip car games of your youth (there was, in fact, a time before iPads). Try to find a licence plate from every province (state, country etc.). Spot something starting with each letter of the alphabet. Choose a category, like “animals” or “European cities,” then take turns naming something within that category – the first person to repeat an answer or not respond lose. Or make up your own silly game that can become its own road trip tradition.

Take care of yourself; While it's always important to be cautious of your health and safety while travelling, our current times call for a little extra precaution. Wear a mask when in public (more so if you are immunocompromised or feeling ill, or in large groups, or if you are more comfortable wearing one regardless of mandates etc.), wash and sanitize your hands often, try to minimize interactions with other people with other people, and do your best to stay six-feet away from others. Bring disinfecting wipes to clean everything from gas pump handles to hotel TV remotes. And be sure to pack a stocked first-aid kit and any medications that you might need.


Take care of the environment; Some of the steps above – like having your car serviced, eating locally, and bringing your own snacks and reusable water bottles - are already helpful in travelling with the environment in mind, but there are a few other things you can do to look out for the earth. When it comes to your car, fuel efficiency is key. If there are several of you going on the trip, consider taking whoever’s vehicle gets the best MBG. If you’re renting, choose a car with efficiency in mind. Other things like packing light and not using roof storage (it affects the cars aerodynamics and decreases fuel efficiency) can also help. Myclimate.org also has a calculator to estimate your trip’s carbon footprint, plus ways to invest in carbon offsets. On the road, try to structure your journey to minimize excess driving and any backtracking – both by choosing a continuous route and also designating the most vigilant travel companion to be the navigator. And obviously, don’t throw anything out of the car as litter (or take it a step further and pick up any trash you find at stops along the way).

 

Road Trip Snacks

I found quite a few different lists of snacks, but I figured that I would share 10 of my top healthy snacks.

So, the snacks that always seem to top my lists, especially now that I have changed my diet up again are; Turkey Jerky Hard-Boiled Eggs String Cheese – Lactose Free Sliced Deli Meat – I really like Mediterranean Chicken Veggies Hummus or Ranch Trail Mix or Mixed Nuts Peanut Butter filled Pretzels Fruit Crackers or Rice Cakes (I love the everything flavoured ones) Another thing I will most likely bring with me on my road trip will be Seasoning Salt and a shaker of Everything Seasoning.

 

En Route Entertainment Music Playlists; while I currently don’t have any playlists, I simply have a full library of liked songs on Spotify. I think I will make a playlist before my road trip, but I may not. Podcasts; There are a couple of podcasts that I really like to listen to. They are: Morbid: A True Crime Podcast; updates weekly No Trash Talk; last updated 2021 Life Chats with Liv B; last updated 2020 Stories from Flying the Nest; last updated 2021 Audiobooks; personally, I don’t like audiobooks because I find them really boring and hard to follow, I prefer actual books. But if you like audiobooks go for it, there are tons of them out there.

 

Travel Medical Kit

Before going on any kind of road trip make sure that you have a medical kit tailored to your needs. You can totally buy a first aid kit on Amazon but be prepared to have a ton of plastic bandages that may or may not actually stick to you. It can be more expensive initially to make your own kit but the benefit of making your own is that it will be full of the essentials that you are actually going to use rather than a bunch of useless products. If you like using essential oils, put your favorites in your first aid kit; if you have animals put some items for them in there as well.

To create a decent DIY car first aid kit, you first need to find the right container. Pick a container that works for you. Here’s an overview of everything that can be included car first aid kit. Use it as a jumping off point, but definitely create a list of your own.

First Aid Essentials for Wound Care Bandages of all shapes and sizes. Nexcare Waterproof bandages are super durable and don’t come off until you take them off. Butterfly closures – waterproof. Great for clean cuts or when you need to secure two pieces of skin together so that it heals nicely. Sterile gauze pads – different sizes Alcohol wipes First aid tape – waterproof. Fabric tape or paper tape.

2nd Skin blister pads. If you already have a blister or hot spot, I recommend 2nd Skin to prevent added damage to the area. RockTape. More blister treatment. Antibiotic cream – for treating clean cuts and scrapes before bandaging. Tweezers, needles, and magnifying glass for splinters/tick removal. Caladryl lotion for bug bites. Cortizone for bug bites and poison ivy, etc. New-Skin liquid bandage. For times when stitches would be a good idea but you’re too far from urgent care, New-Skin is the next best thing. Make sure the wound is clean before using.

First Aid Kit Essentials for Sprains and Strains, Aches, and Pains Arnica cream – for bruises and muscle pain. WellPatch pain-relieving pads – for aching muscles Instant cold pack for sprains or inflammation Ace bandages – provides extra support for strains and sprains Splinting material

Essential Medications Tylenol – for headaches, muscle aches, menstrual cramps, etc. Ibuprofen – for aches and pains. Ibuprofen is faster acting, but Tylenol is stronger. Motrin – I can’t use Tylenol or Advil as they don’t work for me but Super Strength Motrin works wonders. Aspirin – for emergency use (heart attack) Pepto Bismal tablets or Imodium – To counteract the effects of bad camp food or other stomach issues. Antihistamine – for allergies and reactions to bug bites. Aloe Vera or Prescription strength burn cream – Aloe Vera for minor sunburns burn cream for severe sunburns Tums Cold and Flu medication (over the counter) Cough Drops Prescription medicines – will vary depending on the trip Saline eye drops

First Aid Kit Extras

Small scissors Digital thermometer Lip balm with SPF Lighter and matches Cotton balls, cotton swabs, and cotton cloths Plastic sealable bags Hand sanitizer Face masks Latex gloves Small first aid guide Needle/thread Emergency blanket

 

Caring For the Environment

When road tripping you have to remember that the road outside in not your garbage can. Bring your own garbage bags, you can buy a roll or box from the dollar store and throw your garbage out at rest stops along your route. In BC especially almost all rest areas have the latch top garbage cans so wildlife can not get into them, and you can throw your garbage out. Don’t throw your fruit peels, cores etc out the window either. You may be thinking but this will compost, well throwing food scraps out the window attracts wildlife and causes accidents. Another thing is bringing your own compostable wipes as well as bringing your own toilet paper, because you never know if the rest area washroom has been recently stocked or not and you don’t want to be caught in a situation where you don’t have toilet paper available.

 

My Upcoming Road Trip

Where Am I Going? My road trip will be from my home in Prince George to Victoria BC, and back to Prince George. I will be stopping in Langley for 2 nights to see family and then heading to the island to see more family and spend roughly 5 days there. While on the island I’ll stay with my great-aunt. In total I will be gone for a week. Leaving a Saturday and get back to Prince George on Saturday.

When Am I Going? My plan is to leave the 28th of May and be back the 4th of June. Why Am I Going? I move in July, and I wanted to be able to see family that I don’t see all the time because I’m not sure when I will be going back to the coast so it’s nice to see family before moving. What Are My Plans? Currently I don’t have very many plans other than seeing family and making sure to go to the cemetery like I do every time I go to the coast to leave flowers on my great grandparent’s graves. I really would like to go the Butterfly Gardens this time and maybe Fisgard Lighthouse but those are definite plans yet.

Who Is Going with Me? Well currently this is a solo-road trip, but I have asked my grandma if she wants to come with me, but she hasn’t answered me yet.

How Am I Getting There? Road trips to the coast are fairly easy as there are 2 ways to get there, I will follow the main highway from Prince George down. Might take me a little longer with the weird highway issues going on in the canyon but it will still be a good drive.

Are There Any Must See Sites? On the drive down the only site that I will always recommend that people do at least once is the Tram at Hell’s Gate. For sites in Victoria check out https://www.tourismvictoria.com/see-do

 

I start preparing for a road trip months in advance because that is the type of person I am. I need to make lists and make sure that I have enough time for preparing. Hopefully this post helps you plan your next road trip. Wherever you choose to drive, a road trip is the definition of the journey being just a valuable as the destination. Take in the sights, enjoy the snacks, and stay safe! It’s time to hit the road.

 

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1 Comment


Linda Wilson
Linda Wilson
Apr 01, 2022

I wish I was as prepared as you are. I usually pack the day before going anywhere lol😁

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