How To Accomplish The Classic College Road Trip

The Road to California

Road Trip to California, 2009

Who doesn’t want the chance to just pack up the car and take off for a while with great friends? That’s right – it’s time to road trip.

These days, a college road trip is practically a rite of passage. So if you haven’t done it before, it’s time to start planning. A road trip is the perfect opportunity to escape the mundane day-to-day and have an unpredictable adventure. College is the best chance to take off, because there are still summer breaks left before hitting the “real world.” Getting to see new places is just an added bonus!

First things first. Before you start to plan out the trip, make sure you bring the right people with you. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with whomever you choose, so take the time to pick someone that won’t drive you crazy six hours into the trip.

If you have no idea who would make a good travel buddy, consider what you want to do on the trip. Do you want to party, or are you more in the mood for some general sight-seeing? If you want have a crazy experience, but you bring your best friend who hates to go out, you’re in for a disaster of a trip. Here’s some more tips to make sure you pick the right travel buddy!

Once you decide who you want to go with, it’s time to pick where you’re going. There are plenty of road trip routes out there, so you’re bound to find something that you haven’t seen before.

One of the most well-known routes is California’s Pacific Coast Highway, which sports some spectacular cliff-hugging views basked in sunshine. It’s definitely a must-see in the summertime. If you’re looking for something on the East Coast, you might try driving Maryland’s Historic National Road or take a Gulf Coast trip from Florida to Mississippi. Want something in the middle? Visit Route 83, which takes you from Mexico to Canada, exploring some spectacular landscape along the way. Personally, I’m partial to the I-10 route across the southern United States, from Los Angeles to Florida.

Packing the Car

Packing the Car/Kaci Carpenter

When it comes time to pack, there are a few things every road-tripper needs to bring.

Probably the most important thing you need is a map. Even if you have an awesome smartphone with every app known to man, you should still consider packing a map. What if that fantastic little gadget dies (gasp!) and you find yourself unable to charge it? Trust me, you want a map just in case.

Next, you need some great music. Let’s face it – you’re going to run out of things to talk about at some point. So make sure you have a stellar playlist handy for the trip.

Also, make sure you pack plenty of food. Try to bring something healthy along, even if you do load up on M&Ms and Snickers. Take it from me, you don’t feel great after three straight days of sugar and fast food.

Tara, a senior at Arizona State University, says that going on a road trip is the chance to find some great new food.

“Look for all the local places,” Tara said. “Don’t go to McDonald’s when there’s a local restaurant across the street. Branch out.”

A few more essentials for the trip (courtesy of HowStuffWorks): hand sanitizer, tissues, a roll of toilet paper (yes, you might need it), comfy clothes, pillows and blankets, and a camera. Definitely a camera!

Once you get on the road, be sure to keep an open mind. You don’t need to have every second planned out.

Kaci, a junior, has gone on more than a few road trips in recent years. Of all the things she’s learned driving across the country, she says being flexible is key.

“Don’t be afraid of making stops when no one is up for driving anymore,” Kaci said. “Check out a view, stop at a nearby park, sit down for a meal. One trip, we made a pact to stop and try out anywhere that boasted having ‘the best’ or ‘world famous’ pie.”

Road trips are all about getting out and exploring. So what are you waiting for? Go plan your dream trip! And then post all those fantastic pictures on here.

If you’ve gone on a great road trip, or one that went horribly wrong, share your experiences below! All suggestions and stories are welcome.

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3 thoughts on “How To Accomplish The Classic College Road Trip

  1. Tayllor,

    You are so right about college being the perfect time for road trips. I definitely dread being in the real world where there aren’t any breaks longer than a few days. This past summer, my boyfriend and I did a Pacific Coast Highway roadtrip. It was pretty much the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. We basically went from Chandler to San Diego To Los Angeles to San Francisco to Portland to the Olympic National Park (even hit the northwestern-most point of the US!) and all the way back down through Nevada. It was crazy and took us about three weeks. We alternated between staying with friends, staying with family, and camping. I learned how much I love hot showers haha. I love this idea for a blog, sharing everyone’s stories is such an undervalued thing. Great job!

    Emma

  2. Mind = blown.

    I’ve always fantasized about an epic college road trip, but I’m now realizing how doable it actually is. I’m a big fan of the Pacific coast, so that would probably be my dream trip. Who knows? Ole’ Route 66 would be an adventure too!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. lindsaytrobinson on said:

    I’ve heard many a horror story about poorly planned rite of passage road trips gone terribly awry. This post covers all of the bases for planning a successful and enriching trip. You are definitely right about college being the perfect time to experience trips like this. I’ve known plenty of people who end up hating their trip-buddies by day two, running out of food, and breaking down one state away from their launch-off point. The point about finding local food treasures is spot-on. Travelers shouldn’t let themselves get too caught up in tourist-saturated destination spots; locals know exactly where the best places are. Great post!

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