I just got back from an epic road trip with a friend. I flew from Los Angeles to Baltimore to meet up with her. From there we drove in her Fiat 500 to Asheville North Carolina to seek out adventure in the Smokey Mountains. And despite the gorgeous lush mountain ranges, the chill strangers we encountered and the corky town of Asheville, the highlight of the trip was actually my rad travel buddy.
Here are 7 tips to make your next road trip adventure the best one yet.
Tip #1 Choose Your Buddy Wisely
As much as you love all your friends you want to be picky with who you go on the road with. The ideal travel partner is someone who always has a good attitude, willing to share responsibility for planning and can be flexible if plans need to change. When you are in a car for long periods of time you want to make sure that you two can keep each other entertained.
Tip #2 Pick a Destination
Start off with a general idea of what activities you want to do or what you want to experience and then look for places that may have what you are looking for. Narrow down your list by geographical location and budget. Lastly you and your buddy decide together on which destination fits both of your needs, desires and your budgets. You both should feel stoked about the destination you select.
Tip #3 Plan Ahead But Don’t Over Plan
Depending on the destination you guys choose you will want to plan in advance your lodging. If you are camping, book sites in advance. Popular spots tend to book up months in advance. If you want to stay indoors look for hostels or AirBNB. Hostels are easy on the wallet and a great opportunity to meet other travelers. You do give up some privacy because most places you have to sleep in dorm like rooms and share coed bathrooms. Air BNBs give you a more home like feel for sometimes less than a hotel. You can find some great rooms or homes on Air BNB that fit your budget. He con to Air BNB is that you usually have to stay for several days (minimum 2).
For excursions and tours, you may want to book those in advance as well because they could book up quickly as well.
(The view when you step outside the Air BNB my buddy and I stayed in outside Asheville)
Lastly, “Know Before You Go”. When you find your campsite, lodging, surf spot, etc., research the conditions and weather before you go. Check the weather in advance, check surf reports, camping and hiking review sites and check the reviews on the lodging and tour companies. If you are staying by a lake, ask the camp host if the lake has any water in it. That may sound silly but I am serious. On a past road trip I took two years ago, I drove 561 miles from Los Angeles to the mountains in Shasta, CA only to find the lake completely dried out. It was very sad. No water and no fun. Thank you California drought.
Other than these critical elements to the trip, don’t over plan your days and go with the flow.
Forecasting and review site to help you plan:
Tip #4 Split the Packing List
When you want to lighten your baggage load coordinate with your buddy on what gear you two are bringing. See what you collectivelt hace together with so that neither one of you has to spend money on something that the other already is bringing. Here are a few ideas of gear you can share.
- Hiking equipment
- Camping equipment
- Camera equipment
- Charging adapters, cubes and chords
- Bug spray and sun block, etc
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Tip # 5 Play Car Games
Part of a road trip is being on the road for a few hours at a time which is a perfect opportunity to get to know each other a little more and share some laughs. On my recent trip I made a paper fortune teller that had the following questions (versus having fortunes);
- Sing A Song
- Reveal a Secret
- Revel a Celebrity Crush
- What is Your Dream Job
- What is Your Dream Vacation
- Share an Embarrassing Moment
- Share the Details of Your Worst Date
- Tell 2 Truths and a Lie (have your buddy guess the lie)
Tip #6 Talk to Strangers
When you were a kid growing up, I am sure your parents told you not to talk to strangers. But know that you are grown, you should totally talk to strangers you encounter on your trip (unless the person looks super shady or is carrying an axe right). When you are on your trip you most likely come across other travelers or locals. Travelers are great because they can give you advice on where to go next and what to avoid. Locals are even better because they know all the hot spots, corky features about the town and even a little history about the destination. Talking to strangers is a great opportunity to get the skinny on how to get the most out of your trip. For example, on my North Carolina road trip, my friend and I chatted up a street artist @baddrawingsok who drew our portraits. The artist, Paul, warned us in advance that they would be bad drawings and he delivered as promised. I recommend you go into town in Asheville at night and seek Paul out.
During our friendly conversation he eventually felt comfortable enough with us to recommend a really cool “speak easy like” whiskey bar that is not easy to find — unless you are a local. We found the bar and it had a really cool Edgar Allen Poe vibe to it. The point is, if we didn’t talk to “strangers” we would have missed out on a cool experience.
When talking to strangers be cautious in giving out detailed personal information about you like where exactly you guys are staying or traveling to or all the details of your trip just in case they are a jerks and want to rob or bug you. It’s rare but it happens. Just be open and friendly and don’t be careless.
Tip #7 Be The Rad
Of course I have to throw in our mantra as a tip! And it makes sense to do so. You will be covering a lot of ground during your road trip which provides a great opportunity to show everyone you encounter what “Be The Rad You Want To See In The World” means. So be kind to everyone you meet, respect the environments your pass through, clean up your messes (if you make one), have a good attitude and hopefully that will rub off on your buddy and anyone you encounter.
So those are the tips to help you create the perfect road trip with the best traveling buddy!
What are your Road Trip tips? Share in the comments below.
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