Your guide to the perfect road trip

Your guide to the perfect road trip
Unlike flying, which is often stressful, a road trip is a journey that can be as enjoyable as the destination you’re headed to, some say. Illustration: New York Times
Published: 4:00 AM, July 13, 2017
Updated: 10:16 AM, July 13, 2017

NEW YORK — Unlike flying, which is often stressful, a road trip is a journey that can be as enjoyable as the destination you are heading to, according to Sheryl Connelly, a trend forecaster for Ford Motor Company, who takes such trips often with her family.

“In a world of increasing distractions, being in a car for an extended period of time is a great way to bond with your family or friends, and see sights you may not get to otherwise,” she said.

Here are Connelly’s tips on how to have a fun-filled and safe road trip.

Pack Smart: Besides your clothes and toiletries, road-trip essentials include a basic first-aid kit, wet wipes to clean up any messes, a charger for your mobile phone, jumper cables to jump-start your vehicle if you need to, and a spare tire — surprisingly, Connelly said, many drivers do not have one in their cars. And what is a road trip without food? Bring a cooler of small bites such as whole fruit, cheese sticks, roasted nuts, granola bars, and indulgent treats such as a bar of your favourite chocolate.

Banish Boredom: Keep your road trip entertaining. Old-fashioned games such as “I Spy” are a fail-safe option, and so is music. “Have every passenger create a playlist, and rotate listening to songs from each one,” she said. Other ideas include audiobooks and podcasts of Ted Talks.

Make regular stops: Break up the monotony of being in the car by stopping every two to three hours to get some fresh air and stretch your legs. “After sitting in the car for too long, the tendency is to get fatigued, and even a five-minute stop will help counter the sluggishness,” she said.

Check out the sights: Use your road trip as an opportunity to explore the destinations you are driving through. “Don’t just observe the landscape,” Connelly said. “Participate in the community you’re surrounded by.” Try seeing a small, quirky museum, dining at a restaurant known for serving tasty regional specialities, or visiting a local park or farmers’ market.

Stay Connected: When driving through remote areas, poor mobile reception is inevitable, and in an age when many drivers rely on map apps to help them navigate, it is a good idea to get to know your car navigation system and in-car Wi-Fi options before your trip. Some of the latest vehicles, for example, have Wi-Fi hot spots so connectivity is not an issue. Otherwise, Connelly advised reviewing the route you will be taking before you set off and bringing along a detailed map of the areas you will be travelling through. THE NEW YORK TIMES