Over the past four years, I can’t count the number of road trips or days of travel I’ve had. College seems like a time synonymous for road trips–whether that means traveling home for Christmas or taking an epic spring break trip with your roommates. I’ve carpooled, stuffed duffel bags until they couldn’t close, gotten lost, ended up in small off-the-beaten-path towns, eaten fast food, played road trip games and sung so many songs with the music blaring. These have been some of my favorite memories of college–hitting the road with some of the most interesting people, and some of my very best friends. I’ve also learned there are many types of road trips, and 8 that are awesome to take in college and even more road trips if you are feeling creative.
As I finish up spring break in South Carolina, I want to share some of the things that makes a road trip in college simply incredible. While I am all about packing light and soaking up the adventure every turn of the journey, sometimes it’s very good to prepare ahead of time for a road trip with friends. Here are some of my college road trip essentials:
1. Throwback Playlists
Make a car ride playlist full of current songs and a good handful of throwback songs. They make for some good car rides, and good memories/conversation-starters as you bond with your friends. And if you’re like me, they’re excellent for starting car dance parties.
2. Travel Apps
Save some time and download some good travel apps before you leave on your trip. Having a variety of GPS apps is good–from Google Maps to Maps on your iPhone. I also recommend apps like Yelp, as well as TripAdvisor, depending on your destination.
3. Food & Snacks
Pack food to eat on the road for your meals. While stopping at fast food places can be convenient, it may not be worth it. Think about packing your own breakfast or lunch so that you can save money and have a healthier meal. Fruit, granola, healthy chips, hummus, and a few sweet treats make for some good car food to share with your travel companions.
4. Sleeping Bags
Depending on your travel circumstances, sleeping bags may come in handy. I used my sleeping bag for so many occasions in college. From camping, to staying in houses in the mountains, to sleeping on floors on service trips, or in military-style bunk beds at retreats, sleeping bags are convenient and a lot easy to carry around than blankets and sheets.
Protect your eyes from the sun with some pairs of sunglasses! Go for some fun styles on spring break, or pack several to have some backups. I always love wearing sunglasses in the car–it makes it so much easier for me to see, plus it puts me in a spring and summer mood.
6. A Camera or Camera Apps
Travel isn’t complete without several rounds of photos. Make sure to pack a couple cameras or your phone, along with chargers, extra batteries and a memory card with a lot of space.
7. Comfortable Shoes & Clothes
For the car ride, it is so important to stay comfortable with comfy shoes and clothes. Make sure to wear shoes that are easy to get on and off, and that would be suitable for any pit stop adventures. You’ll never know when you may be hiking, biking, laying on a beach, or walking around a new city.
8. A Journal or Books/Magazines to Read
Keep yourself entertained! It’s always fun to write about your adventures as they happen or to relax on a beach with a good read. We can all use a break from talking with friends, so it can be so helpful to bring along items that you enjoy to spend some quality time by yourself. Check out some other ways to stay entertained on the road here!
9. An Itinerary
While I believe it’s sometimes good to have an itinerary and other times it’s good to plan to not plan, I think it’s important to have a plan for the first day you arrive to your destination. After a long car ride, you may want to relax, go out to a nice dinner or stay in. Plan to do some quieter activities or less strenuous attractions. Having a plan for at least the first day you arrive takes a lot of stress off of you as you start your adventure.
10. A Spontaneous Spirit
Go for that adventure. While a plan is always good at first, take some time to do something you’ve never done before, talk to new people or explore someplace new on your own. College road trips are meant to be full of memories, and sometimes it’s good to just go along with the ride.
As I finish up my last spring break of college, I can’t wait to soak up the sunshine of South Carolina, enjoy the great outdoors, get a little fancy at dinner, and go along with what the day brings us. It’s amazing the wisdom, joy, creativity, and clarity that travel can bring–especially in college. Take advantage of every moment you can travel with your friends. It makes relationships grow deeper–connections to grow stronger–and meaningful communities to develop and carry on.