Thinking about a road trip is fun! The memories of road trips past – awesome! What’s not so great? All the boring, crappy stuff that can actually happen while on the journey. You’ve gotta be prepared. Read More...

The road trip is a tradition as American as baseball. With miles and miles of highway stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction, we grow up dreaming about the day we can hop in a car and explore it all.

But the reality of a road trip can be much less glamorous. If you’ve ever been crammed in the backseat of an old sedan with no air conditioning for hours at a time, you know what I mean. To actually enjoy the trip, you need to plan ahead.

Here’s a checklist to ensure your next road trip goes off without a hitch – from the necessities to the fun stuff.


Jumper Cables

Having your battery die in the middle of a road trip is no fun, especially if you don’t have any jumper cables with you. I’ve been stranded on the side of the road with no cables before, and eventually gave up and called AAA when none of the good Samaritans who stopped to give me a jump had cables either.

A new set of jumper cables only costs around $20 for a decent set – trust me, it’s worth it.

External Phone Battery Charger

Anytime I start out a road trip with a fully charged cell phone, I’m almost guaranteed to drain it before I’ve arrived at my destination. If you have multiple people in the car all trying to charge their phones, you’re going to have times where your phone is dead and you can’t charge it.

That’s why I always bring my external battery charger with me. You can find a decent portable charger for $30-$40, and they typically carry enough energy to charge your phone five times over. That’s a lot of extra time to play late 90s R&B and settle petty arguments with Google.


I can’t be in a car for an extended period of time without falling asleep, but I hate contorting myself into a semi-comfortable position just to wake up with a neck cramp.

Now, I try to bring a pillow from home or a travel pillow on every road trip. It makes my car naps much more enjoyable, so I can actually rest before it’s my turn to take the wheel.

Bottled Water and Snacks

During my last significant road trip, my friends and I loaded up our car with all kinds of snacks: veggie chips, bananas, PB&J sandwiches, candy and string cheese. We had a whole cooler in the backseat with food and bottled water, which saved us so much money and kept us from stopping for fast food. Every time I was tempted to buy a candy bar at a convenience store, I remembered that I had plenty of food in the car.

Not only is bringing your own snacks less expensive, but you can also bring goodies that are healthier and tastier than what you’d find at a gas station.



If you’re traveling by yourself, I highly recommend finding some podcast episodes to download before you head out. Listening to music or calling old friends is fun, but a podcast is the best way to pass the time on a long drive.

Most episodes are between 40 and 90 minutes, so listening to a couple episodes can make several hours fly by. I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving I spent driving to my grandma’s house and listening to “Serial” along the way. I was so engrossed in the story, I sat in my car after arriving to finish the last episode.

I used to drive six hours every weekend to see my boyfriend, and I would always load up my iPod with that week’s episodes of “Fresh Air.” Nowadays, I also enjoy comedy podcasts like “Comedy Bang Bang” and “Doughboys” to keep my spirits up when traffic is a slog.

If you’re going to be driving through an area with low cell reception, I recommend downloading the episodes before you head out so you’re not relying on your data plan.

Apps and Games

Last month, I went on an eight-hour road trip with my old college friends to Asheville, North Carolina. We wanted to play some road games on the way down, but couldn’t think of anything we could all participate in.

Eventually we found a knock-off version of “Beat Shazam.” The app would play 10 seconds of a song, and we’d have to guess what it was. It was a blast trying to test each other and see who was better at picking out old Britney Spears’ hits.

Before you head out on your road trip, find some fun apps and games you can play. You can even go old-school and play classic road games like “I Spy” and “20 Questions.” Nothing spices up a long drive like a little competition.

Are there any other essentials you take on a road trip? What can’t you do without? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Learning to drive as an adult? Isn’t that something you do as a teenager? Here’s what it’s like to be the only adult who can’t drive. Read More...

My boyfriend is looking at me in the way that you don’t want to be looked at by a significant other.

He’s sweating profusely and feeling miserable because he has just been hit by food poisoning. The type of food poisoning that happens when you eat something that is horribly off. He needs me to drive and I just look at him in mute embarrassment.

Because I can’t drive.

I don’t have my license and this guy I like so much is looking at me with disbelief and a bit of disappointment.

I can’t blame him.

An adult who can’t drive?

How did I end up as an adult without a driver’s license?

It’s pretty much an article of faith that learning to drive is something you do as a teenager. Everyone does. It’s a rite of passage.

While it’s a bit uncommon in the state that I live in, it’s not an unusual story. My mom raised me after my parents divorced and I watched her dash from one job to the next: on foot, via bus, and by car.

When it was time for me to start learning to drive, I was getting around town just fine. Yellow school bus and public transit for the win.

I didn’t notice that I was being left behind as my classmates began driving and received or earned their first cars.

To be honest, driving wasn’t a priority. I knew that my mom wouldn’t be able to afford to buy me a car. Besides, I honestly preferred to buy clothes, yummy food, and fun things instead. So, I put off learning to drive for more years than I care to admit.

The inconvenience of being without a driver’s license.

Initially, it was not that big a deal. As I got older, though, I became more and more aware of how socially awkward my inability to drive was becoming for both myself and the people around me.

I was pretty good at getting around town and even other cities with public transit. I could navigate a new city by foot or bus and wow the people in my life with my knowledge of the L.A. transit system (they have a metro), the Paris Metro, or New York City’s subway system.

This knowledge didn’t change the reality that my friends were resigned to the fact that they would be driving me to the mountains every time we went for the weekend (we live in Colorado).

Or, whenever we went out for drinks my friends would become the unwitting designated driver unless I took a cab. Basically, as time went on, my friends began feeling used.

Learning to drive was outside my comfort zone.

What I didn’t count on was that the older I got, the more frightened I would become of embracing the driving process. As a pedestrian I saw people talking on their phones, eating food, and generally being completely distracted behind the wheel.

I also didn’t count on the fact that public transit would improve to the point where I found myself loving the fact that I could hop on and off the light rail to get to where I needed to go within 15 minutes or less.

Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing systems made me even more reluctant to learn how to drive. But, the older I got the more acutely I noticed how my Not Driving impacted those around me.

It was a life skill I had to learn.

So, I decided to take drastic measures and force myself to learn.

I bought a car.

Yep, I bought a car from my friend before moving cross-country. It was a great car and only cost $1,500. I bit the bullet and bought a car before learning to drive.

Making good on my investment.

In most circles, a car purchase doesn’t count as an investment. But I paid cash money for that car, and now I had to make sure it paid off.

I began the painful process of learning to drive. Ironically, the actual action of driving wasn’t the biggest issue for me. It was the fact that no one wanted to drive around with a beginning driver who wasn’t their kid.

I had a couple of lovely friends who graciously volunteered to sit in the car while I practiced, but they were few and far between.

Finally, I began taking driving lessons (which are ridiculously expensive) and finally got enough courage to take the driving test.

I finally have my license.

It does feel different. My friends, bless them, are very proud of me and have volunteered to go driving with me so I can practice more. Now I feel like a member of a not-so-exclusive club that excludes people due to lack of access to a car, fear, or not enough money to afford one.

I savor the freedom that knowing how to drive gives me.  I no longer worry that I won’t be able to help a loved one in an emergency come.

I will never forget that look on my boyfriend’s face. Fortunately, that look won’t happen again.

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