As you may have seen from my previous posts about our cross-country roadtrip, me, my husband, and our two dogs Linkin and Story spent 16 days in the car as we made our move from Florida to Oregon.
Let me start by saying that everyone should do a cross-country roadtrip at some point in their life! You don’t have to follow the same route from Florida to Oregon, but just take any roadtrip across the United States.
There are so many beautiful places to see and experiences to have!
I know what you may be thinking…”I can’t take that much time off work”, “the kids can’t be away from school”, “we don’t have the money” etc. etc. But, i’m telling you, you can make it happen!
We both left our well-paying jobs to make it happen.
Are we irresponsible? No. Did we lose our minds? I don’t think so.
We came up with a plan and made a budget to do something we have always wanted to do. I think if you asked anyone who knows us personally, they would tell you that we are very responsible people.
And as far as having kids goes…no, we don’t have kids, but we have two dogs that came with us on this journey and I will dare to say that traveling with two dogs may be just as much of a challenge as traveling with two kids.
And to top it all off…I get car sick.
On winding roads, I feel horrible, and i’m pretty sure our dog Story does as well!
So I say all this to say…you can do it! If I can do it, you can!
Did everything go perfectly on our trip? No.
But, it was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Hopefully you can take some of the lessons I learned to plan your trip! We have already started planning our next one.
Lesson #1 All your unhealthy eating habits rise back to the surface.
Our parents were nice enough to load us up with tons of snacks for the trip. We had cheese and crackers, granola bars, protein bars, fruit, PB and J sandwiches, and a whole cooler full of bottled water.
We started off the first few days doing pretty well eating the snacks, but then we lost it.
Gas station fill-ups turned into candy, chips, and soda stops. We were constantly tempted to stop and eat fast food instead of making a sandwich.
I don’t know what it is about roadtrips, but they seem to bring out the worst food habits.
I have always been a candy lover so that bad habit came back out of me on the trip. Skittles and snickers and starbursts were tempting me at each fill-up and I caved a few times. OK, more than a few times.
I have to say that I did stay strong with the soda. I decided to give up soda for 2015 and so far I am on track. But, I have to say that this roadtrip was the most tempting time I’ve had so far. With all the gas station and fast food stops, I wanted a soda so bad!
Lesson #2 Be prepared to put on some pounds and don’t beat yourself up about it.
Along the same lines as lesson #1, unless you stick to your healthy eating habits (unlikely) and take the time to exercise during your breaks from the car (even more unlikely), you are going to gain some weight. I did!
But, I decided not to let it bother me. It’s kinda expected after sitting in the car for 16 days. We even did a lot of walking and hiking during our trip, but it doesn’t make up for the amount of sitting and eating we did!
Lesson #3 Bring an outfit for every season
When traveling across the country, the weather from one city to the next will vary so much! I was so shocked that we were bundled up in coats in New Mexico, only to be wearing tank tops in California!
Make sure you bring a wide range of clothing types.
Keep in mind that I’m not saying bring A LOT of clothes, just a lot of variation in clothing, which brings me to the next lesson…
Lesson #4 Pack your bag of clothes with what you think you’ll need and then remove 2/3 of what you packed.
I packed waaaay too much for the trip and it ended up being a big hassle. I wore about 1/3 of the clothes I actually packed, and we only did laundry one time in the 16 days.
Having my bag so full meant I had to lug it into the hotel room and back out to the car every.single.day.
Do yourself a favor and pack less!
Lesson #5 Don’t be afraid to “wing it”.
We had a plan of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see, but we definitely didn’t stick to it 100%.
Along the way we would discover other places we wanted to visit and hear about some things we decided to skip.
For example, we thought driving West along Route 66 would be epic, but we quickly discovered that it is just a much slower road without much excitement. There were a few stops along Route 66 that we made sure to hit (like Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX), but otherwise we opted for interstate travel to get to the places we REALLY wanted to go quicker.
Lesson #6 Prepare some entertainment
Podcasts, games, trivia, downloaded music. Those are some of the things we used to keep us entertained. Don’t rely on the radio because it can be very hard to find a good station along some of those American rural roads! That static noise will drive ya nuts!
Lesson #7 Don’t try to spend your whole day driving
I think the longest we drove in a day was about 8 hours.
Try to leave yourself plenty of time to get to your final destination so that you actually have time to stop where you want to stop and enjoy the ride!
We did not arrange our hotels until the very day we were checking in so we had the flexibility to stay wherever we wanted instead of having to make it to the next town.
Lesson #8 Get an awesome air freshener
With two people and two dogs in a small space for 16 days, things can get smelly! We showered of course, but it doesn’t matter!
Before we left, we bought a linen fresh air freshener called Citrus Magic and put it under the seat. I have to tell you that thing worked wonders!
Our car smelled like linen freshness the whole way!
Lesson #9 Get your car checked out before you start your trip
Before we left for the trip, we took the car in to get all new tires, an oil change, and a general check-up.
Then, about a week before we left our car started making funny noises. I took it in and they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. The noise kept coming and going throughout the week and I ended up taking it in 3 times before they found what was wrong…basically the brakes were failing! Yikes!!
I am so glad I didn’t ignore it before our trip! The very last thing you want on your trip is car trouble! I saw many many broken down cars along the road during our travels and I was just so thankful it wasn’t us!
Lesson #10 Don’t be afraid to take the scenic route
Some of the small highways of America are absolutely amazing (especially in California and Oregon)! Don’t miss out on some of them because you are in a hurry to get somewhere! It will be worth it.
We drove from San Francisco to Oregon via Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway). It was one of the most scenic drives I have ever been on and I’m so glad we didn’t skip it!
I hope these lessons I learned will help you when you plan your next roadtrip! Seriously, do it! Do. It.
And when you do, share it with me!
If you missed any of the Roadtrip Series, you can read them here:
What’s the longest roadtrip you’ve been on? Where did you go?