A winter chill… spring showers… and the most-anticipated time of year is finally here. Summertime! What does that mean for your road trip vacation plans?
Summer is when many Americans decide to nurture their sense of adventure with fun-filled vacations. Many choose road trips to avoid the hassle, distance, and hefty price of airplane travel. Road trips are also a fantastic way to learn more about your own country!
There’s plenty of info out there about the rules for taking low-key, exciting road trips. Forget about these “rules” for now. We’re going to explore how you can lighten up and break those so-called taboos for the best road trip ever.
Road Trip Taboo #7: Leaving Your Pet Home
For pet owners and animal lovers, there’s nothing sadder than your four-legged friend’s face when you leave home. Sometimes it is easier to take Fido along instead of finding a sitter. Other times it’s not so taboo to leave your pet behind with a trusted friend. Here are a few things to consider before bringing a pet on your next road trip:
Summer means higher temperatures. You can’t always take your pet into an establishment. Even leaving them in the car with the windows cracked during a short stop can turn into a nightmare. Anti-cruelty laws in many states make it illegal to leave pets or children in cars, so cops regularly check parked cars to enforce this. The common excuse “I was only gone for a minute” likely won’t sway a police officer.
At least 3 out of 10 Americans have pet allergies, and one of them could be your next traveling companion. All pets – even the “hypoallergenic” ones- shed allergens, (or, dander and hair that trigger allergies). Allergens collect on all surfaces an animal has ever touched, and their strength can last for a long time. That means it’s super important to thoroughly clean your car if you plan a road trip with other people. Reconsider bringing your pet along if a traveling buddy or their family member is allergic to them.
Your choices may become limited. After a little research, you’ll find lots of things you can’t wait to do on a road trip: sights to see, foods to try, and other awesome activities. While there are pet-friendly activities out there, you can’t do everything with your pet tagging along. Consider letting your pet sit this one out. It doesn’t mean you love them any less, but it helps you maximize your options without a lot of sacrifices.
Should you take your pet on the road with you and the rest of the crew? First, reevaluate the details and goal of the road trip. Is it bonding with your human pals or visiting a famous museum? If so, it might be a good idea to break this road trip taboo and leave your pet behind!
Road Trip Taboo #6: Not planning enough
We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s better to be safe than sorry”. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having your plans laid out, but that’s only true to an extent.
What happens when you’re too safe? You know, to the point where you’re a little too resistant to changing plans. Planning is a great idea – in fact, it’s an essential part of preparing for your road trip. The problem is that most of the advice out there urges you to plan in great detail. While this is important for certain things (like managing your money), other times it can backfire.
Say you’ve already mapped out your itinerary before departing with a few other people. You’re set on seeing a cat juggling show that starts in an hour. But, if your traveling companions would much rather tour a nearby historic ghost town, your plans need to be more flexible. You could even change your mind upon hearing about an interesting attraction at the last minute. Will you refuse to stretch the itinerary, missing what could have been a wonderful experience?
Lighten up and break the supposed taboo of not planning enough. It will help you open your mind to having a real adventure when new, exciting things come up on your next road trip.
Road Trip Taboo #5: Traveling with strangers
It’s always good to meet new people.
However, reading some of the advice out there about the “right way” to take a road trip makes it seem like vacationing with people you don’t know well is the worst thing ever. We’re not saying you should offer rides to complete strangers, but as in Taboo #5 above, it’s not such a bad idea to open your mind on the open road.
Once upon a time, I was invited on a road trip destined for a friend’s condo in Florida. Also along for the 10-hour ride was my friend’s sister and her best friend. I had never met my friend’s sister and knew nothing about her friend. Did that stop us from having a great time? No way! Despite three of us not knowing each other at all, we had a total blast! It was such a nice experience, I still remember that trip to this day.
Plan on traveling with a friend and she wants to bring someone new along? You don’t have to immediately say no. If you’re worried about this stranger pitching in for gas or other necessities, it’s an easy fix. Just estimate your travel mileage and dollar amount of gas needed. Ask to pool the money together upfront to calm your anxiety.
Don’t close off yourself to having someone new on the road with you. All the fun you will have makes a perfect recipe for bonding and potential new friends!
Road Trip Taboo #4: Trying new foods
The desire to be polite is what influences the advice to avoid new foods and stick to familiar ones.
Of course, you don’t want to make your travel companions uncomfortable if you suddenly get gassy from diner chili. That doesn’t mean you have to give up one of the best parts of road trips: the food. What’s the fun in that, anyway?
Take celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, for example. Besides having a cushy job for his show “No Reservations” where he treks around the world to breathtaking locations, he eats constantly. It doesn’t even matter what he eats or if he likes it – he talks to locals, finds incredibly interesting foods, learns about the history behind the dish and enjoys every minute of it. He also comes away from the table a lot smarter and more appreciated for all his effort. That should be the kind of exhilarating road trip you have if you get excited about food, too.
Let’s be clear: we’re not telling you to chow down on Rocky Mountain Oysters while in Denver (unless that’s your thing). Just eat what you want. It’s your road trip, and you should be adventurous as possible. If you want to try a deep-fried Ghost Pepper ice cream bar, go for it!
Your trip should be brag-worthy, and snapping pics of your amazing 6-foot pizza to show off later is a perfect way to start. After all, what’s the point of having a road trip without getting a good story?
Oh, and in case you actually do get terrible gas or a queasy stomach from a foodie adventure, here’s something that can help:
Road Trip Taboo #3: Making a super-strict budget
No, we’re not advocating for you to blow your budget on vacation… but you should ease up a little.
On your road trip you should be aware that everything may not go according to your expectations. What you should expect, however, is the following:
Expect to have fun, even if it’s not what you planned. Events, activities and other opportunities that you didn’t even consider can come up and potentially affect your budget. Don’t miss out on one-of-a-kind experiences in the name of frugality.
Expect to shop. If you’re sightseeing, touring, or simply filling up at a service station, expect to buy something you didn’t plan on even wanting. Buying souvenirs, no matter how small, is totally normal and nothing to feel guilty about – just don’t go overboard!
Expect emergencies. At the risk of sounding morbid, you should certainly plan for emergencies to occur. Some of these crises will cost money, so don’t be afraid to shell it out if you must.
When creating your road trip budget, add a cushion for unforeseen expenses, emergencies, souvenirs, or gifts.
Prior to leaving, you should get all proper tags, equipment, and maintenance for your vehicle and tires. Before driving, don’t take any medications that impair your thinking, alertness, or reaction time, and keep proof of medical and auto insurance close. Check to make sure you have a first-aid kit and extra cell phone chargers easily accessible in your car before heading out on the road, too.
Road Trip Taboo #2: Working on vacation
The whole point of going on a vacation is to relax and forget about work for a while. Many people don’t recommend working while trying to get away from it all, but you should think about breaking this taboo.
Thanks to smartphones and the Internet, the world is more interconnected than ever before. Work assets and email can be accessed remotely with just a touch on a cell phone application.
Sitting in a hotel with nothing else to explore? There’s nothing wrong with catching up on your work email or one part of a project in your downtime. Don’t feel guilty; you might actually be glad you made some progress when the road trip is over!
Apart from your full time job, working on vacation could also be a way to pocket extra cash with a hobby. There are lots of freelance or contract-based positions that pay travelers for things like photography or reviews of certain places needed for their publications. If you have a knack for writing, you can even start your own travel blog and make big bucks from advertising on it.
Road Trip Taboo #1: Going off-the-grid
Going off-the-grid is the final taboo you should consider breaking. Warning: it’s also kind of selfish… and sometimes you need to be.
If you’re the kind of person who consistently puts their energy into other people, other things, other stressors that aren’t even yours – you may want to go off-the-grid, Sure, your generosity doesn’t go unnoticed, but that’s not the point. If you have a savior complex for fixing everything and have a difficult time finding a moment for yourself, you need the personal time that going off-the-grid offers.
Deliberately carve out the time you desperately need to relax. Road trips can be an incredible time for bonding, and they can also serve as a reminder that you deserve relaxation and joy, too!
Thinking about going off the beaten path for a less traditional, quieter road trip? Consider going alone to a beautiful spot you’ve always wanted to see. Take one other person, (or heck, even your pet), put the cell phone on Do Not Disturb, and reconnect to your desires, hopes, and plans for the future.
Summer waits for no one. Before you know it, a winter chill will creep back into the air, limiting your chance to see all that America has to offer. There’s never been a better time to start preparing for a road trip to the places you’ve always wanted to see.
Just make sure you break a few taboos along the way to have the road trip of your dreams!
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