Tips for a Stress Free Road Trip: My Summer Travel Experience

This summer, my boyfriend and I took a two-week road trip down route 66, into the southwest, and through some national parks. We started in Chicago and stopped in Santa Fe, Monument Valley, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Zion, Arches, and Denver.

It was relaxing and beautiful and definitely the best part of my summer. We got to explore parts of the country that neither of us had been to, and it was fun to plan something on our own. Below are my tips for a successful, stress-free road trip.

1. Travel in May.

Mid-to-late May is wildflower season, which made the trip so much more beautiful. A lot of people aren’t out of school yet, so it’s also not too crowded at this time.

2. Prepare for unseasonable weather.

I checked the weather before we left, and every destination looked like it would be sunny and in the 70s and 80s. We did have some nice sunny days, but we also got stuck in many snowstorms. Every place we went, people were saying they had lived there for 40 years and had never seen weather like that in May.

3. Always bring a spare tire.

Our car did not come with a spare tire and we got a flat in the middle-of-nowhere in New Mexico. Luckily, we had just gotten cell service and had AAA, so we got a tow to the nearest town. You may think a flat tire is rare, but when you’re driving over bumpy, rocky back roads, you have to be prepared.

4. Plan ahead.

Some people do the spontaneous road trip thing, but we planned it out far in advance. Hotels and Airbnbs were already filling up in January. We got to stay in some nice places, and we were able to stay close to each destination. Knowing we had a place to sleep made for a stress-free trip.

5. Buy a national parks pass.

The national parks pass lasts for a year, and it’s definitely worth the money. At $80, we were able to stop in many national parks along the drive. Pro tip: There are two signature lines, but only have one person sign it. That way, you can share it with someone else when you’re done with your trip.

6. The sun rises super early in the Grand Canyon.

The sun rose at 5:17, and we had to get to the shuttle bus in the park by 4:45, meaning we woke up at 4:00. Even if you’re a morning person, that’s pretty early.

7. Find gas stations in advance.

Sometimes we’d be driving for 100+ miles without seeing any town or gas station. Make sure you know where all the gas stations are because there may only be one or two along the way. Be sure to check before heading out for the day because you likely won’t have cell service.

Although we had a few bumps along the way, like the flat tire, overall it was a great stress-free experience. The most important tip from this list is to plan ahead. We could stay relaxed knowing that everything ahead of us was set. And another success from the trip is I now know my boyfriend and I can survive 408 straight hours together!

 

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