3 Tips for a Successful Road Trip

By Ross Bernards | March, 12 2019

In the age of instant gratification and what seems like a non-stop life, there is one thing that I have found regenerates the soul like nothing else: a road trip. Sure, you can get a cheap flight to almost anywhere and be at that location sooner, but then you’re missing the point.  

I’ve been pretty lucky that I’ve been on a road trip for the last 8 months. Trips like this aren’t about the destinations at all, they are all about the journey. They’re about those long stretches of open road with not a car in sight, where nobody says a word for miles because they just aren’t needed. They are about talking to a local at a gas station to figure out where the secret spots are. Most importantly though, they are about slowing down and letting life just happen on those miles of asphalt that lay out before you. Besides having a killer playlist, there are some other tips that I have found to help make your road trip a bit easier on the wallet.

1. Download These Apps!

GasBuddy: I can’t even tell you how many times we would need gas and I would see a station and think it was a good price. Then I’d check the GasBuddy app and find another station further down the road that would have gas for $.25 less a gallon. Whether you’re going just a few hours away or across the country, you need to have this app! It’s a crowdsourced app that people update with the prices of the gas as they see them, and the map function lets you see how far off your actual route the less expensive gas might be.

iOverlander: Putting gas in the tank is only part of it, you also need to figure out where you’re going to sleep. If you’re like me and tend to keep plans fairly loose and not know exactly where you might sleep for the night, then the iOverlander app is the best app out there. Another crowdsourced app, this app helps you find places where it’s safe to park for the night. Some spots are incredible campsites and others are literally pull-offs on the side of the road, I’ve used both types from this app and never had an issue.

2. Bring an Insulated Water Bottle and Coffee Cup

Belting out Celine Dion while going 70 on the interstate can build up quite the thirst (if you don’t have her on your road trip playlist are you even trying). Having a good insulated water bottle and coffee cup is the best way to make sure you can still hit those high C’s. Besides not creating waste, they are money savers! The water bottle more than the coffee cup, but they can still save you some money and are more sustainable.  

Think about it this way, you should drink 64 ounces of water a day, or two 32oz water bottles. At about $1-$2 for a 16 oz plastic water bottle, you’d be spending $4-$8 a day, or $28-$56 a week in water! That’s 1-2 tanks of gas! Not one single time in the almost 30,000 miles I’ve driven in the last year have I ever paid for water when refilling it at a gas station, store, etc.  

For most of last year, I had left my insulated coffee mug behind because I didn’t think I would need it. It was easily the biggest mistake I made in packing. Most places give you a few cents off on coffee if you have your own mug (not a big enough discount in my opinion but I digress). My biggest issue with not bringing it with me was the number of disposable cups and lids I ended up using. Not only was I creating unnecessary trash, but my coffee got colder a lot quicker, which for a bougie person like myself... I just couldn’t stand it.

PRO TIP: If you’re a photographer like myself, having insulated mugs and water bottles can also have an added benefit. When it’s cold out, get hand warmers and put them into an empty bottle or mug, place your batteries in there and it will help increase your battery life during cold weather.  

3. Pack With a Purpose, Go Inflatable

Packing a car is an art form. One I have luckily been able to master to some degree in my former work as a valet and bellmen. If you don’t pack a car properly when leaving for a trip, it can lead to some of the following:

  • A bag being left at a gas station in Tahoe with all your clothes

  • Breaking parts of your car

  • Arguments

  • Becoming spontaneously single

  • Buying extra of something you don’t need

Always think about what you are going to need first when packing, and in order to save space, think of going inflatable on some things. Take a pillow, for instance, they are great, but they can take up a lot of space. Invest in an inflatable backpacking pillow and bring that instead! It will save you a lot of space. Bringing a sleeping pad? Inflatable is the way to go. Bringing your dog and need a bed for them? Yes, there are even inflatable dog beds.  

A Final Thought

I think the only thing I’ve learned from flying is that it’s apparently frowned upon to use a stranger's shoulder as a pillow. However, I've learned far more things about myself while driving down the highway on a road trip than I care to admit. There are songs I hear today that still remind me of a road trip and exact location 12 years later. So go make your playlist, take these tips and go pack your car. The road is waiting!

Ross Bernards

Ross’ love for the outdoors flourished while living in Colorado over the last 8 years. He calls Colorado home but spends most of the time traveling in his camper van with his girlfriend, Lauren, and dog, Missy. When Ross isn’t in the mountains, he can probably be found in the deserts of the southwest pursuing his dreams as an adventure and outdoor lifestyle photographer. 

3 Tips for a Successful Road Trip

By Ross Bernards | March, 12 2019

In the age of instant gratification and what seems like a non-stop life, there is one thing that I have found regenerates the soul like nothing else: a road trip. Sure, you can get a cheap flight to almost anywhere and be at that location sooner, but then you’re missing the point.  

I’ve been pretty lucky that I’ve been on a road trip for the last 8 months. Trips like this aren’t about the destinations at all, they are all about the journey. They’re about those long stretches of open road with not a car in sight, where nobody says a word for miles because they just aren’t needed. They are about talking to a local at a gas station to figure out where the secret spots are. Most importantly though, they are about slowing down and letting life just happen on those miles of asphalt that lay out before you. Besides having a killer playlist, there are some other tips that I have found to help make your road trip a bit easier on the wallet.

1. Download These Apps!

GasBuddy: I can’t even tell you how many times we would need gas and I would see a station and think it was a good price. Then I’d check the GasBuddy app and find another station further down the road that would have gas for $.25 less a gallon. Whether you’re going just a few hours away or across the country, you need to have this app! It’s a crowdsourced app that people update with the prices of the gas as they see them, and the map function lets you see how far off your actual route the less expensive gas might be.

iOverlander: Putting gas in the tank is only part of it, you also need to figure out where you’re going to sleep. If you’re like me and tend to keep plans fairly loose and not know exactly where you might sleep for the night, then the iOverlander app is the best app out there. Another crowdsourced app, this app helps you find places where it’s safe to park for the night. Some spots are incredible campsites and others are literally pull-offs on the side of the road, I’ve used both types from this app and never had an issue.

2. Bring an Insulated Water Bottle and Coffee Cup

Belting out Celine Dion while going 70 on the interstate can build up quite the thirst (if you don’t have her on your road trip playlist are you even trying). Having a good insulated water bottle and coffee cup is the best way to make sure you can still hit those high C’s. Besides not creating waste, they are money savers! The water bottle more than the coffee cup, but they can still save you some money and are more sustainable.  

Think about it this way, you should drink 64 ounces of water a day, or two 32oz water bottles. At about $1-$2 for a 16 oz plastic water bottle, you’d be spending $4-$8 a day, or $28-$56 a week in water! That’s 1-2 tanks of gas! Not one single time in the almost 30,000 miles I’ve driven in the last year have I ever paid for water when refilling it at a gas station, store, etc.  

For most of last year, I had left my insulated coffee mug behind because I didn’t think I would need it. It was easily the biggest mistake I made in packing. Most places give you a few cents off on coffee if you have your own mug (not a big enough discount in my opinion but I digress). My biggest issue with not bringing it with me was the number of disposable cups and lids I ended up using. Not only was I creating unnecessary trash, but my coffee got colder a lot quicker, which for a bougie person like myself... I just couldn’t stand it.

PRO TIP: If you’re a photographer like myself, having insulated mugs and water bottles can also have an added benefit. When it’s cold out, get hand warmers and put them into an empty bottle or mug, place your batteries in there and it will help increase your battery life during cold weather.  

3. Pack With a Purpose, Go Inflatable

Packing a car is an art form. One I have luckily been able to master to some degree in my former work as a valet and bellmen. If you don’t pack a car properly when leaving for a trip, it can lead to some of the following:

  • A bag being left at a gas station in Tahoe with all your clothes

  • Breaking parts of your car

  • Arguments

  • Becoming spontaneously single

  • Buying extra of something you don’t need

Always think about what you are going to need first when packing, and in order to save space, think of going inflatable on some things. Take a pillow, for instance, they are great, but they can take up a lot of space. Invest in an inflatable backpacking pillow and bring that instead! It will save you a lot of space. Bringing a sleeping pad? Inflatable is the way to go. Bringing your dog and need a bed for them? Yes, there are even inflatable dog beds.  

A Final Thought

I think the only thing I’ve learned from flying is that it’s apparently frowned upon to use a stranger's shoulder as a pillow. However, I've learned far more things about myself while driving down the highway on a road trip than I care to admit. There are songs I hear today that still remind me of a road trip and exact location 12 years later. So go make your playlist, take these tips and go pack your car. The road is waiting!

Ross Bernards

Ross’ love for the outdoors flourished while living in Colorado over the last 8 years. He calls Colorado home but spends most of the time traveling in his camper van with his girlfriend, Lauren, and dog, Missy. When Ross isn’t in the mountains, he can probably be found in the deserts of the southwest pursuing his dreams as an adventure and outdoor lifestyle photographer. 

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