Road Trip Tips

I love a road trip for several reasons. It allows me to adjust the date and time without any penalties. I get to see more of the country along the way. I can bring along almost anything I want. It allows me to have multiple stops and visit friends. I tend to have more time than money, so it usually is cheaper and a richer experience.

Here are some of my favorite tips for making it a fun road trip! I like to look at upcoming rest areas and places to stop to eat. So I do a lot of research for a nice place to have a meal that meets my dietary needs at about four hours into the trip or every 4 to 5 hours. I stop at roadside rest areas to walk 5 to 10 minutes at least every two hours. My Apple Watch actually helps motivate me to stand and move more on a trip.

Some people were surprised that I would drive from Portland, Oregon, to the Salinas Monterey area of California. When you consider time and cost you need to look at the whole picture. Your preferred method of travel might vary based on time and finances.

As far as time goes, usually I need to allow a half hour to get to the airport and hour and a half at the airport and two hours to get to San Jose, a half hour to pick up the rental car and about an hour and a half to drive. When you add that all up it takes approximately six hours, versus driving in about twice the time. My goal in this post is not to convince you to drive, but to consider alternate transportation and whether it meets your goals for a unique travel experience or not.

Whenever I’m taking a trip, I load the weather for that area into my phone and watch it for a couple of weeks before I leave, using this as a guide for what type of clothes to bring. The other thing I consider is will I have access to laundry? When you have access to laundry, you can take fewer items. Two to three pairs of underwear would be fine to last you for a few days and then do laundry. One to two pairs of pants a few tops a couple of different pairs of shoes and you’re set!


NW Raw Restaurant in Ashland, Oregon

When looking for places to stop, I consider my dietary needs and the vibe of the town. Can I have a local experience? Can I have some healthy or unique food? Is it a fun town to maybe take a walk in? I like to find great vegan places as part of my trip. I also flex to vegetarian sometimes to allow me some flexibility with towns that are less vegan-friendly and when visiting family and friends who are not vegan.


Free filtered water at NW Raw, drink lots of water to avoid fatigue

Bring along plenty of hydration. I like to fill my Klean Canteen with water. I sometimes add the juice of half a lemon to that or some essential oil‘s that are food grade. I also like to bring along snacks such as almonds or fruit. But, be careful you might have to cross the border where fruit and produce may be confiscated.


I listened to old cassette tapes to pass the time

What entertainment do you enjoy? Bring along plenty of music, audio books, podcasts and also take time to reflect in the quiet of your car. Bring a friend or partner to add to the whole experience, if schedules allow. I love catching up while driving and exploring!

If you have a smart phone you can ask it to “find the rest areas near me.” Plan to stop at many of them along the way. Rest areas provide easy access to a restroom, drinking water, trash and recycling, information, picnic tables, an area to let your pets out, vending machines and the opportunity to get out and walk around a little bit. Here’s some information on interstate rest areas.


Take advantage of the amazing rest stops offered in many areas

If family or friends know that I’m traveling and wish to know my whereabouts and how things are going, I will either post occasionally to Facebook or create an email group and update them along the way. This can help me coordinate for when I will be arriving if I’m visiting them.


Stop to notice the beauty along the way

I like to take photos along the way. It’s a way for me to remember the trip and photos are much nicer than souvenirs in my opinion. I also like to travel lightly, so I carry either a small or a medium size duffel bag. Here is a pack list from a previous trip to give you an idea of what’s in my duffel bag.


I can drive 740 miles on 1.5 tanks of gas = $85 one way

Cruise control is my friend, saving me gas and allowing me to more freely move my legs.

When traveling on a two-lane freeway I honor that slower traffic should be in the right lane, while also noticing the slower cars ahead and the faster cars behind and adjusting lanes accordingly. When there are three lanes or more, I tend to travel in the lane that’s one lane over from the right. This reduces all that traffic from people merging into your lane while also allowing people to easily pass you if they are going faster.

It’s also fun to sometimes try an alternate route and get to know new things. On my most recent trip, my brother suggested taking Pacheco Pass versus going through the thick bay area traffic. What a wonderful tip this was! No traffic whatsoever, beautiful green hills versus tons of cement and the gorgeous San Luis reservoir with water and the green hills around it.

Road trips also allow me to be flexible on how my energy level is and where I need to stop or when I can keep going. I tend to go on trips that are about one to two days of driving most of the time. Airbnb is a great place to stop if you know that you need accommodations along the way. Airbnb‘s are available in many places you will not find hotels and offer a more local experience.


I’m planning another trip back to Ashland, as it was such a pleasant stop

So whatever your next trip is, just consider the best way you’d prefer to travel. Is it by car, bus, bike, train, air or boat? Mix it up now and then to stimulate your senses and enrich your life!


  1. Jane Wolfe says:

    I love road trips too. Instead of music, I listen to audio stories. I tend to stop and stretch a lot, especially when passing interesting shops or landmarks. I visited Ashland at Halloween a few years ago and the town had an amazing parade with crazy costumes and lots of merriment.


  2. I make that trip every year! One thought though, I took a woman’s self defense class a while back through the local police department. The instructor, a experienced officer warned to be extra careful at rest stops along the way. They are a favorite of criminals who often prey on solo woman travelers. Enjoy your trip and be safe!


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