road trip tips

I constantly feel the need to be planning, following a schedule and keeping track of every little thing on a to-do list.  Professionally and personally.  After a while it gets exhausting.  This is what I’ve come to love about camping and road trips, you don’t always need an itinerary.  There are no flight schedules and hotel reservations to keep track of.  You go where you want, when you want.  We get on the road and time is irrelevant.  When there’s light, we wake up.  When it gets dark we sit around a fire and go to bed.  Everything in between is whatever we feel like making it.  Spontaneity is a beautiful thing.

Over the years we’ve evolved from driving around aimlessly and getting frustrated with each other because we have no idea what we’re doing to following a few loose guidelines so that our wandering results in an unforgettable experience.  These are our 10 components to the perfect spontaneous road trip…

1. Leave. No plan? No problem. Don’t let the lack of an itinerary stop you from getting out and discovering something great.
2. If you’re not traveling solo, make sure you and your traveling companion are on the same page. If one of you thinks you’re out to tour the southwest while the other was thinking of long days in a hammock with drinks in hand, somebody is going to be disappointed.
3. Pick a general direction or someplace you’ve been wanting to go. Point yourself in a direction but don’t be in a hurry to get anywhere.
4. Stop a lot. The beauty of a trip like this is that you have nowhere to be. Stop and take tons of photos, find a little restaurant in the small town you’re passing through and get a feel for the area.
5. See a road that looks interesting, drive down it and see where it goes. Often times, this is how we find the best places to camp.
6. Avoid the interstate. Interstate driving is predictable. Rest stops, truck stops, towns with strip malls and fast food restaurants. Take a quiet two lane highway and you can drive at a leisurely pace, pull over anytime you like and discover hidden gems seen by few. The small towns that dot these highways offer a kind of charm and character you can’t find along an interstate.
7. Let your map be your nightly novel. Study the terrain, look for something that piques your interest.  Sometimes we’ll look for the curviest road we can find because we know the surroundings will most likely be interesting. Sometimes we’ll pick a place we want to go and then find the most round about indirect way of getting there. We’re looking for the most scenic route, not the fastest route.
8. Let the weather guide you. Choose a few different places you’d like to go then look up the corresponding forecast. This can be one of the easiest ways to narrow down your choices.
9. Prepare for the best. If you think you’re likely to end up exploring out in the middle of nowhere, be sure to bring plenty of supplies so that you don’t have to up and leave if you find somewhere super cool.
10. Leave your expectations behind. Sometimes spontaneous travel delivers big time. Sometimes it falls flat. If you don’t have any expectations, it won’t matter.  Just love the trip for what it is, the chance to be wild & free.

Whatever you do…just go.