On the Road Again

The Attic Gallery is a good place to go when you’re in Vicksburg.

The Attic Gallery is a good place to go when you’re in Vicksburg. Photo by Amber Helsel.

Road trips can be fun, but they can also be a hassle. After traveling a bunch over the last few months, I've picked up on some tips that make road trips go a lot smoother. Here are 9 of them.

1 Go in with a game plan.

You don't have to have a rigid itinerary, but at least have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to do when you get where you're going. It's also helpful to figure out exactly how long things will take. For example, the Vicksburg National Military Park is a day trip in and of itself, and I didn't realize that until I actually got there. And if you're going to a big city like Memphis, keep in mind that a day trip may not be enough.

2 Be flexible.

I've found that my most fun trips are the ones where I go in with a few places in mind but end up finding a bunch more. It also helps to live in the moment a little bit and just enjoy the trip. Leave time to just walk around.

3 Shop local.

This is a good idea when traveling because locally owned businesses give you an insight into the city's culture and what makes it tick. And food at local restaurants tends to be better than most chains.

4 Navigation apps are your best friend.

Yes, apps such as Google Maps will help you get to where you're going, but those apps also come in really handy when you're walking around. I use Apple Maps to get to my destination, but to me, Google Maps can be more helpful for getting around a city. It was a life-saver in Ocean Springs and Hattiesburg.

5 Bring snacks.

I can't understate the importance of this one. Besides navigation apps, snacks are also great to have. You need a snack for the road, but it's also good to keep a bag of peanuts or something with you. And keep a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated.

6 Plan your audio.

The radio is fine if you're just getting around the area you live in, but it gets more and more unreliable the further away you get. Knowing what you want to listen to ahead of time means your ears will be happy, and you won't have to keep playing with the radio dial.

7 Get there early.

I know, I know. It's your day off or the weekend, and I'm asking you to wake up at the crack of dawn to go on your road trip. But believe me, waking up early for this is a good thing. If you get to a place by about 8 or 9 a.m. (assuming the trip is around three hours, which is true for a lot cities and towns here), you'll have time to grab breakfast and figure out what's next. And you get to spend more time exploring, which is a bonus in my book.

8 Wear comfortable clothes, and dress for the weather.

You'll be doing lots of walking, so wear shoes that are actually comfortable (and not just ballet flats with no cushion, like I sometimes do), and wear clothes that are comfortable to walk in. For road trips, my go-to is decent-looking workout attire or a T-shirt and pants. If you're planning on going somewhere nicer later, bring a change of clothes.

9 Ask social media.

Social media is a great tool to connect with people, and it's a good way to get recommendations for road trips. For my travels, I will ask Facebook friends to tell me what they like to do, see and eat where I'm going. It's been really helpful, especially the recommendation feature.


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