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10 Tips to Survive Your Next Roadie

Adventure awaits, leave chaos at the door.

graphic of a a red car driving down a road in the desert with cactus.
Be as prepared as possible on your next road trip. Illustration by Emily Ulfig

A road trip is more than traveling from point A to point B, it’s a journey filled with laughter, tears, and memories. If you aren’t prepared, roadies can be difficult, especially with young kids.

Under my belt, I have countless family trips mostly consisting of 8 people, 1 car, and a 22-hour drive. It’s safe to say that I’ve learned many tips and tricks to survive those long, boring hours on the road.

So, buckle up and get ready to start planning that next roadie.

1. Snacks, snacks, snacks

Three girls in the car drinking coffee.
Car stops for coffee can make a huge road trip difference. Credit: Kierah Hietala

Whether you’re embarking on a 3-hour or 25-hour car trip, you’ll need snacks.

As we all know, every individual has their own palate when it comes to food. Some good go-to snacks are Goldfish, fruit snacks, granola bars, and cheese and crackers.

One of my favorite road trip hacks has been to create “snackle boxes”. A snackle box is essentially an organizing container filled with a variety of snacks.

2. The rules of the roadie

Plane snacks.
Snacks and games can make a flight that much easier. Credit: Kierah Hietala

Everyone should have their own “rules of the road.” These are rules you set before hitting the road. My family favourites include the driver getting aux, drawing sticks for seats, and keeping it in the lines.

Our favorite, keep it in the lines, has worked extremely well, especially when traveling with young kids.

When you’re in your seat, you don’t want others sticking their feet in your face or stealing your charger. This is where keeping it in the lines helps. You can use the seatboarders to set boundaries in the car.

3. Who gets the aux and what should you play?

Three girls wearing sunglasses and listening to music.
One of our many car trips listening to music. Credit: Kierah Hietala

The stone-set rule of the driver gets aux doesn’t always apply on long car trips. Let’s be real, we don’t want to be listening to the same soundtrack for 20 hours straight.

It’s best to plan ahead with music and constantly switch up the genres and artists, maybe throwing in a good podcast.

You also want to remember to download your music in advance in case you hit an area with spotty service.

4. Staying busy

Picture of two people sitting in the front of a car.
Car ride from MI to WI. Credit: Kierah Hietala

Now for the hard part: how do you stay busy during those long drives? Sure, you could scroll on TikTok or Facetime a friend, but that’s going to get boring fast.

Some good roadie time-passers are books, word search puzzles, and games.

Starting a game is the best thing to do with a group. Some fan favorites have been What Do You Meme, Guess That Riddle, License Plate Bingo, and Guess The Song.

One of my personal favorites has always been Guess The Song. One person is the “DJ” and they switch between songs while the rest of the people in the car try to guess the song. For each song you get one point, and the first to seven points wins.

5. Planning ahead

Two girls sitting on a bus during a long car trip.
Bus ride from MI to TX where we got stuck in traffic for 2 hours. Credit: Kierah Hietala

Spontaneity makes for a good time, but sometimes it’s best to plan ahead. Checking your route to make sure there are no traffic stops should always be a number one priority.

It’s best to try and avoid construction where you may be stuck in traffic for hours on end. Keeping an eye on Google Maps can be a great preemptive attempt at shortening an already long trip.

If you’ve ever traveled with young kids, you most likely understand the struggle of traffic stops.

6. Budgeting

Houston hotel outdoor swimming area.
Houston hotel. Credit: Kierah Hietala

Budgeting falls in line with planning ahead. Knowing your expenses, or a general idea of them, can help you stay prepared and hopefully keep surprise expenses low.

One tip to help save money on the road is to pack lunches and snacks. Constantly stopping at gas stations and roadside stops for food can add up very quickly.

Another tip is to plan your hotel stays in advance. If you are driving a long distance and want to stop along the way, having the hotels paid for and planned for will help keep stress low.

7. Roadie documenting

Camera gear and computer
Camera gear can go a long way on the road. Credit: Kierah Hietala

Documenting your trips is by far the most important tip I can give you. Taking pictures and videos of everything along the way will keep your memories fresh.

My family’s favorite way to document our trips is through digital cameras. You can find cheap digital cameras at Walmart, Amazon, Target, and more.

Having a camera for each person gives everyone the chance to document the trip through their own eyes.

I’ve personally saved money and invested in camera gear. As someone who travels frequently, I’ve found a high-quality camera to be a huge bonus.

Tip: at the end of the trip you can have a slide show night where you share your pictures and memories with your travel buddies.

8. Stay flexible

Group of girls in car wearing cowboy hats.
Car trip to a country concert. Credit: Kierah Hietala

Always expect bumps along the way. Whether you plan for them or not, there’s always going to be something that goes wrong. It could be something as simple as a missed turn or as big as a forgotten suitcase (been there, done that).

A great tip to stay flexible and attempt to plan for troubles is to add extra time to your route.

Staying flexible will help you and your travel buddies keep stress to a minimum. The last thing you want is a car full of angry people on a 12-hour drive.

9. Pre-travel maintenance

Mechanic shop
Car maintenance is important to keep in mind. Credit: Shutterstock/Thx4Stock team

Many dealerships offer free car inspections. This is a great feature to take advantage of before a long roadie.

We all know one of the worst things to happen on the road is to break down, especially if you’re traveling somewhere new.

Be sure to stay on top of what’s going on under the hood – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

10. Must-remembers

Plane snacks and book
Never travel without a book. Credit: Kierah Hietala

Here are the top 4 must-remember items to pack for your trips:

First aid kit: You can never plan for an injury but you can always be prepared.

Spare tire: This falls in line with the pre-travel maintenance check and planning ahead. Having a spare tire allows you to be prepared for possible car troubles.

Games: You always want to pack games, especially if you’re traveling with young ones. Electronics won’t last forever, and it’s not the greatest feeling after spending way too much time on an electronic device.

Snacks: Again, you always want to remember snacks. This will save both time and money when you stop for gas and bathroom breaks.

Car full of suitcases, kids, and groceries.
Grocery store pit stops during a 25-hour long road trip. Credit: Kierah Hietala

Don’t forget about these tips when it comes time for your next roadie, and remember to stay safe.

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Hello! I am a full time marketing student and content creator based in Wisconsin. Aside from working as a journalist for Trill Mag, I am also a social media and marketing intern for a non profit organization called The Plumery. I am an avid traveler and I love visiting new places!

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