Don’t Be a Hangry Travel Buddy: Tried & True Road Trip Rules To Live By

I am, without a doubt, the Road Trip Queen. I put tens of thousands of miles on my car every year checking out festivals and exploring new destinations, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

Road Trip Planning 101. San Luis Valley,
Hwy 285 near Villa Grove, Colorado in the San Luis Valley.

With spring a few days away, and summer just around the corner, here are some tried and trued ways to make your next road trip the best experience possible.

Check Your Fluids

My first piece of advice is boring, but important. Before heading out on the highway, make sure your car is in good working order. Make sure the tires have the correct pressure and the oil isn’t overdue for a change. Also, check to make sure that your window washer fluid is full. Take it from me, you don’t want to be stuck on a slushy pass without it.

Don’t be Hangry

Pack snacks and water or plan to make pit stops for food along the way. There’s a gas station in Walden, Colorado with free popcorn and I hear there’s a gas station in Fairplay, Colorado with great hot dogs.

Road Trip Planning 101. Along Hwy 34 in Eastern Colorado.
Along Hwy 34 between Greeley & Fort Morgan, Colorado.

Did you know that dehydration can make you hungry? It’s true. Dehydration can lead to hangry behavior and no one likes a hangry travel buddy, so keep that water bottle full and pack a backup gallon or two of H20. You never know when extra water will come in handy.

Don’t be Afraid to Stop the Car  

Many of us jump in our cars and make a beeline from Point A to Point B. In my opinion, this doesn’t make for an enjoyable road trip. I’ve done it both ways; taken my time to reach Point B and drove like a bat-out-of-hell to reach Point B. The former is much more desirable.

Road Trip Planning 101. A back road near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
A back road near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

While planning your trip, even if you know where you’re going, look at a map. My husband likes paper maps, but I prefer GoogleMaps. Study your route and see if there aren’t some places to take a pit stop along the way. Perhaps you’re passing within feet of a state park. Why not pop in for a quick look around and leg stretch?

Your lunch stop is a fantastic opportunity to do a quick exploration of a new town and to find good eats as opposed to fast eats. Instead of grabbing a Big Mac and eating in the car, stop at a local restaurant. Check TripAdvisor for advice (or tweet me).

Road Trip Planning 101. US 160 near Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
US 160 near Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

We have favorite lunch stops around Colorado including Firebrand in Gunnison when we’re driving to Ouray or Telluride and Villa Grove Trade in Villa Grove when we’re heading to Pagosa Springs or Durango.  

Slow Down & Enjoy the Ride

“Slow down and enjoy the ride” is the phrase on my new rear view mirror jewelry, and it’s good advice.

Road Trip Planning 101. by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer,

Don’t get overly concerned about getting to a place at a specific time. If there’s a beautiful overlook, stop and take in the scene, don’t speed by in a race against the clock. Road trips aren’t about breaking land speed records, they are about enjoying the entire experience, from the time you get in the car until you get home again. And never be afraid to take a back road even if it adds a few minutes to your trip.

Road Trip Planning 101, Along US 350 near the Santa Fef Trail between Trinidad & La Junta, Colorado.
Along US 350 near the Santa Fe Trail between Trinidad & La Junta, Colorado.

To truly enjoy a road trip one must be adaptable. I’ve learned from personal experience that it’s possible to get stuck in a construction backup in the middle of nowhere. Having a book on Audible is helpful in this situation, but if you’ve already determined to make car time part of the overall adventure of a trip, minor curve balls like construction won’t be a problem.

Happy travels!



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