There are times to say no and there are times to say yes. This road trip was definitely one of them. After a 5 hour group FaceTime with 3 of my besties in North Dakota, my boyfriend, Ian, and I made a spur of the moment decision to drive 30+ hours from balmy Los Angeles, CA to snowy Fargo, ND. Several hours later, we packed up our car and took off into the night escaping our quarantined life in densely populated Hollywood, California.
Up until this point in our lives, neither of us have completed a road trip of this magnitude. We were naturally bound to run into some speed bumps. But, all in all, we drove a total of 3,680 miles safely there and back and we picked up a few helpful tricks along the way.
Check out our tips for road tripping and come along for the ride, I promise it’s not as bad as you’d think.
- Check the weather. LA had beautiful skies and it was Easter-eve that we left. You would think that by late April the weather would be at least pretty fair across the country. We thought wrong and drove into the last snowfall (aka whiteout blizzard) of the season as we entered North Dakota. Our car was skidding all across the road and it forced us to pull over for a few hours. Lesson #1 learned, check the forecast for all states you’re driving through before you leave.
- Pack supplies in the car for anything you might need. This includes drinks, food & snacks, toilet paper, wet wipes, chargers, blankets, and pillows. Be sure the essentials are always within reach.
- Start your drive at night after a low key day.
I know people suggest beginning a road trip in the morning, but hear me out. If you don’t plan on stopping we found that starting at night actually made the drive much easier. Here’s our logic, if you begin your trip at night, you have more energy and more of a fresh mind to focus on driving while the other person sleeps. Once you switch shifts you, the driver, will be tired and ready to sleep which helps create a sleep pattern while the other person is awake from sleeping the last several hours. We would’ve made it the entire way to Fargo without any sleep stops if we didn’t run into that blizzard previously mentioned.
On our way back, we started at 11am and by the time we got to 2-3am we were both exhausted because we hadn’t slept all day, but had also been driving. We ended up pulling over in Vail, Colorado to sleep for a few hours before returning to the roads. For this reason, I suggest starting your road trip in the evening.
- Take shifts driving. We liked to switch drivers after every 1-2 tanks of gas. As you can see from point #3, you can and you will get tired.
- Keep Google Maps up, always. You never know when you are going to lose and regain service. Plan out essential stops along your route!
- Don’t let your gas tank drop lower than ¼ full for peace of mind.
Apparently this is a rule of thumb if you live in the midwest. We almost ran out of gas only one time and that’s all it took to learn that lesson. We had about 30 miles left in the tank, which wasn’t always a reliable read, and about 20 miles to the nearest gas station. Luckily we made it, but in hindsight skipping the last gas station for what felt like a hundred or more miles wasn’t the best move. You live and you learn!
- Carry cash. You never know when you’re going to run into an unexpected toll or somewhere that accepts cash only. Being prepared is always best.
- Stay hydrated. Don’t forget to drink all that water, iced tea, and gatorade you packed! Dehydration can lead to headaches and crankiness and honestly, nobody wants that. I tried to be a good co-pilot for Ian. I offered water and a snack every so often because he really took the bulk of driving. Cudos, to you babe!
- Get out and stretch every two hours. We normally did this while getting gas or if we saw an amazing view that we HAD to see. There were definitely several last minute pulls offs to stunning scenery, especially in Nebraska and Colorado. One seriously looked like the old Microsoft screensaver.
- Music and entertainment is an essential. Don’t forget to pack aux cord or headphones to listen to music, audio books, podcasts, downloaded shows and movies, or to keep up with us here at the Collective Chronicles! This helps the time go by much faster and keeps your mind busy. Check out our Collective Chronicles Playlist on Apple Music for good vibes.
So here they are! Tips for turning a good road trip into an epic road trip with all the good, the bad, and the unbelievable in between. Do you agree with our road trip tips? Has something worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!