Traveling well is defined by you.
Knowing my travel style helps me figure out where I want to go and what I want to do when I get there. It’s also useful for keeping some flexibility when things don’t work out the way you planned. For example, I know that when I travel with my family that some of us will need to go to a playground or a children’s museum while others (mostly me) will want to walk, hike, and see historical places. That means my target list of things to do in any location has to include walkable areas, playgrounds, parks, scenic views, fountains or splash pads (different names in different places), museums, and monuments. That can mean over 50 places in some cities and towns because I count anything within 30 – 45 minutes driving distance as well.
Just a Reminder…
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1. Narrowing down the list is easy and that’s why I don’t worry about making a long list to begin with. Some places knock themselves off first because they’re too expensive – know your budget! Explore travel ideas that will keep you from going over budget with travel tools that help you plan and give you insight on what to expect, what to do, and hotel deals.
2. Too far – know your travel limits. Think about how far you can drive without stopping, and how you will access needed resources. There’s nothing worse than seeing the rest stop you were planning on stopping at is closed for maintenance, repairs, or just limited access. Each state has its own Department of Transportation (DOT) office which can tell you what the rest areas are and their scheduled closings. Check these before you go to avoid surprises. While this resource is not the official DOT, it can help point you in the right direction. Plan your perfect drive with tools like these:
- Roadtrippers – download the app to build your route and have turn by turn navigation. Use trip guides for National Parks with insider tips and explore the top things to do on the way.
- Google Maps – plan, drive, find hotels, things to do, and nearby restaurants.
- AAA Triptik – plan, get directions, maps, find gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and things to do.
3. Outdoors activities might have to get changed to an indoor one – know the weather. You can check the weather with your phone app by changing the location in the app and view the 10 Day forecast. Typically, you can save several locations to keep track of the weather but you can also just google the weather or visit weather.com
4. Check reviews and websites for average visitor time, special exhibits or events – know what’s going on. The best place to check on special events would be the official city, town, or state website for their events calendar. You may also search and be able to find specific local events websites that cater to informing the public. TripAdvisor is my go to resource for reviews and ideas.
6. Once you’ve settled on the attractions that are most important to you and yours, now you can pack – know what to bring. Pay close attention to advisories provided by each attraction, their rules may have a list of items that are not allowed. Knowing helps avoid unnecessary delays and losses that you don’t want to experience during your vacation.
7. Unless there’s something special going on, my clothing style is pretty casual. Although, I always bring a few dressier blouses and 1 dress because you just never know.
- Good walking shoes plus flip flops and my super fancy croc wedges (for those days I want to pretend I’m wearing heels). When flying, always wear the easiest shoes to kick off unless you have TSA precheck (LOVE THIS – children under 12 go through free with you). And remember, sometimes, that won’t even save you from having to kick off your shoes if outside of operating hours or at an airport that doesn’t have it. Read more about why the trusted traveler programs might be worth it to you.
- Dresses that pack well because they could literally be crumpled into a ball and never tell their story.
- Capri leggings or jeggings because they’re awesome, paired with my fancy tunics that double duty by being made of material that doesn’t give away all my efforts or show glistening (ok, sweat marks).
- Tank tops, athletic wear, shorts, and of course a sweater or two because you never know.
- On a rare occasion where I may want makeup, it’s minimal and can fit in a purse. 2 Things that I always have are lip gloss and moisturizer.
17 Things You Need for Your Road Trip
Packing & Travel Gear
- A good crossover purse with pockets for my phone and quick access items while still keeping me generally hands-free.
- My toiletries are probably the worst part of my haul, several brushes, combs, barrettes, ponytail holders, curl rods, flat iron, gel, conditioner, bobby pins. Look, I just take the entire bathroom with me. Because, you just never know. And this is why my toiletries need a bag of their own.
- My rolled method typically can pack 7 – 10 outfits in one large case. Thus the reason for lightweight, easy breezy clothing styles. One usually also doubles as a laundry bag to keep the dirty away from the clean on short trips. Good options for packing cases here.
- A pop-up hamper is great for longer stays and a neater hotel room. It makes packing to go pretty painless as well. Thanks to my daughter for showing me that great trick.
- Bright hard case luggage, it’s taken a beating so far and it’s easy to spot in the baggage area.
- Bright luggage tags, mine have a smart mouth too. Again, easy to spot.
- A Hand luggage scale that you can pop in your carry-on. I cannot stress enough how simple this makes knowing how much your bags weigh and avoiding rummaging through them at the drop off in order to lighten the load and avoid paying additional fees for overweight luggage.
- It’s rare but occasionally I take a small jewelry case that fits easily anywhere and keeps necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings nice and neat.
- A backpack small enough to fit most “personal item” required sizes can take you a long way. I have fit a weeks’ worth of clothes in before but I usually use it for electronics, cords, kids arts & crafts, and books to keep us busy. I even found one that fits my laptop and camera equipment with room to spare.
- A small bag or backpack, preferably foldable, that can be used on location for holding snacks and drinks while walking, hiking, on the road, or anywhere else.