Whether taking a short weekend trip to Northern Michigan or a trip across the United States, there are a few things I’ve learned about making life on the road easier, more enjoyable, and more convenient (especially when working on the go).
1) Always keep a tent and sleeping bag in your car
Desperate times call for desperate measures. No matter how much you’d like to pretend everything on the road will go according to plan, it won’t. And instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a last-minute hotel when that time comes, you can either pitch a tent or sleep in your car. Instead of getting frustrated, take it as an opportunity to sleep under the stars along a beach on Lake Michigan.
2) Make use of XFINITY WiFi Hotspots
Especially as a writer and photographer, XFINITY WiFi Hotspots are heaven sent. Meeting deadlines and staying connected on the road is a tough job. Libraries are fine, but they aren’t always easily accessible and every time I use one I feel the need to change my passwords to all my accounts because of lack of security on public networks. XFINITY Hotspots are free to XFINITY Mobile customers or Internet customers with speeds of 25mbps or higher (if you aren’t a customer you can buy usage passes). It’s also secure and has millions of locations (literally, millions) all over the United States.
Now please picture me frantically yelling in gibberish at my computer on a bench in downtown Holland after my site crashed. Thankfully with technology like this I was able to access my information and get it back up and running in ten minutes. My breathing slowed and I was able to speak English again thirty seconds later. Win.
3) Two words: Portable stove
If you’re planning on living off more than $1.49 nuggets from Burger King, a portable stove is going to be essential. Eating out while traveling can be one of the biggest cost factors;, be smart and plan ahead in regards to food. As much as we’d like to think as travelers we spend every night cooking homemade potpies over an open flame, it’s just not going to happen. Plus another two words will ruin that campfire dream real quick in dry summer months out west: fire ban.
4) But if you can build a fire, use your itinerary as fire starter
The biggest buzz kill to a road trip is a plan. A lot of people think an itinerary reduces stress, but it actually causes a lot more. Just think of it this way:
If you leave with no destination, you’re never behind schedule.
5) Consistently back up photos
What’s everyone’s worst nightmare while traveling? Someone stealing their belongings, including their phone with all the pictures they just took in the last week. Crap happens, and I can’t tell you your phone won’t get stolen or broken (have you forgot the time we were robbed in San Antonio?), but what you can do is back up your photos to make sure they are never lost.
But don’t upload them all with your data, as it can drain your usage. Next time you’re in a town log onto XFINITY’s Hotspot. As they are fast enough to upload your photos even when you’re tight on time.
6) Get your vehicle checked
Not all car problems can be fixed before they occur, but prevent as much as possible. Before a long road trip, I recommend getting a full vehicle inspection. You might not always like to hear the results, but it’s better to deal with them now instead of on the side of I-80 at rush hour. Or you could just pull a Shalee and drive with flashing headlights from Michigan to southern Illinois due to electrical problems. Oops.
7) Pack a flashlight, portable charger, and a gallon of water
Setting up camp with a phone flashlight isn’t fun; a portable charger could save you a fight with your s/o over who gets to charge their phone first, and a gallon of water is a lot easier (and a lot greener) to drink out of compared to five small water bottles.
8) Don’t push for too many miles
Lastly, don’t rush. A road trip isn’t fun when you’re constantly rushing to get from point A to point B. Sometimes less is more. I’d rather only drive five hours a day and see a lot compared to spending most of my trip on the freeway passing by all the beauty that surrounds me. The amount of distance traveled doesn’t determine how good of a road trip it is. Stop and smell the roses, take that spontaneous stop for a chilled dip in Lake Superior, or challenge yourself to eat that gigantic XL ice cream cone. Isn’t traveling supposed to be about relaxation?