Unlike flying, which is often stressful, a road trip is a journey that can be as enjoyable as the destination you’re headed to, according to Sheryl Connelly, a trend forecaster for Ford Motor Company, who takes road trips often with her family. “In a world of increasing distractions, being in a car for an extended period of time is a great way to bond with your family or friends and see sights you may not get to otherwise,” she said.
Here, Ms. Connelly’s tips on how to have a fun-filled and safe road trip:
PACK SMART Besides your clothes and toiletries, road trip essentials include a basic first-aid kit, wet wipes to clean up any messes, a charger for your cellphone, jumper cables to jump-start your vehicle in case it dies, and a spare tire — surprisingly, Ms. Connelly said, many drivers don’t have one in their cars. And, what’s a road trip without food? Bring a cooler of finger foods like whole fruit, cheese sticks, roasted nuts, granola bars and indulgent treats like a bar of your favorite chocolate.
BANISH BOREDOM Keep your road trip entertaining. Old-fashioned games such as “I Spy” are a fail-safe option, and so is music. “Have every passenger create a playlist, and rotate listening to songs from each one,” she said. Other ideas include audiobooks and podcasts of TED Talks.
STOP EVERY FEW HOURS Break up the monotony of being in the car by stopping every two to three hours to get some fresh air and stretch your legs. “After sitting in the car for too long, the tendency is to get fatigued, and even a five-minute stop will help counter the sluggishness,” she said.
BUILD IN SIGHTSEEING Use your road trip as an opportunity to explore the destinations you’re driving through. “Don’t just observe the landscape,” Ms. Connelly said. “Participate in the community you’re surrounded by.” Try seeing a small, quirky museum, dining at a restaurant known for serving tasty regional specialties or visiting a local park or farmers’ market — the app iExit, available on Apple and Android, has information on attractions off exits on major highways.
STAY CONNECTED When driving through remote areas, spotty cellphone reception and dead zones are inevitable, and in an age when many drivers (Ms. Connelly included) rely on map apps to help them navigate, it’s a good idea to know your car navigation system and in-car Wi-Fi options before your trip. Some of the latest vehicles, for example, have Wi-Fi hot spots so connectivity isn’t an issue. Otherwise, Ms. Connelly advised reviewing the route you will be taking before you set off and bringing along a detailed map of the areas you will be traveling through.