The Dos and Don’ts of Road Trips

HAPPY FRIDAY! I know I’ve talked about #sandsoutwest a ton, buuuut you’re about to hear about it some more. For the new readers here, on August 1 of this summer, my bf and I drove out west and camped for two weeks. I’ve posted a lot about our trip on the blog and on Instagram, but I haven’t really talked about the whole road trip part, specifically what to do and what NOT to do. So, here are my dos and don’ts of road trips, and of course some pictures.


DO: take your time shopping.

Make sure you have the necessities! (Side note: We got a tent from Walmart the day we left…who does that?!) We were really glad we chose the Coleman brand and our tent held up very nicely for the duration of our trip. Click here to see our tent. We got a 4 person tent instead of a 2 person because we knew the extra space would come in handy later – and it did! Since we had a dog with us, when the weather got bad he slept inside. We also got a queen size air mattress and even with that in the tent we still had lots of room for our stuff. I found some packing lists specific to hiking and tent camping on Pinterest and my grandparents got me a crate full of biodegradable toilet paper, bug spray, trash bags, sunscreen, tissues, paper towels, Tums, Kleenex…the list goes on!! Take your time when planning what to bring and don’t overlook the little stuff! I would also recommend taking a roll of quarters to pay for tolls while traveling.

DO: take unexpected turns.

On the side of the road in South Dakota, we passed Porter’s Sculpture Park.  We didn’t even second guess taking a stop and visiting. The 30 minutes (and $8 per person admission) it took to walk through the park was SO worth it. There are over 50 sculptures and the artist is always there to tell you about the pieces and his future work! This is a must-stop on a drive out west and just an example of something that we didn’t plan but LOVED! Be willing to stop and move your schedule around, try new food at local places, take a scenic byway…one of the best parts of a road trip is having the freedom to make random and impulsive decisions!

DO know before you go.

Know what you can and can’t do while visiting national/state parks, national forests, monuments, etc. We went to Yellowstone National Park, and even saw Ole Faithful, but our time was limited because we traveled with a dog, and national parks are extremely strict when it comes to pets. We didn’t read about pet restrictions before visiting, so this was quite a shock! Unfortunately, dogs are only allowed 100 feet from the parking lot and not allowed on trails, boardwalks, or exhibits throughout the park. In Yellowstone we managed to find trails (like the Painter Pots boardwalk, pictured below with S) that were less than a mile long so we left our dog in the car for less than 15 minutes (with the windows totally rolled down and some fresh cold water, in case you’re freaking out).

Don’t: sweat the small stuff.

When we got to Arches National Park in Utah, we were SO tired from driving, SO hungry, and SO ready to sleep. Our playlist was getting old, the views were getting old (sorry Utah, but…its true), and we were just not ourselves. We decided to cut our time in Arches short because we honestly just couldn’t get it together. Communication is already an important part of any relationship, but when you’re literally stuck (I mean that word in a good way) with a person for two weeks and you do everything with or at least around them – eating, sleeping, driving, even using the bathroom (yep), tempers can flare and patience wears thin. Don’t sweat the small stuff! When you know you’re getting annoyed, pinpoint why. On this trip when S and I got annoyed with each other – if we did at all – it was because of an outside source and it had nothing to do with the other person. The whole “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hangry” thing? That’s real.

DO: Make a playlist.

Seriously. If this is the only thing you do. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but music will be your LIFESAVER when you’re doing this whole driving for a reeeeaaalllly long time thing. My “west” playlist on Spotify that I used is 23 hours long and has 343 songs. Yeah. I’m serious. You need that much music.

I honestly think that S and I talked more than sang or listened to music, but when he went to sleep and I was the one driving for what seemed like 827 hours at a time, Shania Twain and Faith Hill saaaavvvVvveeeeddd me. I don’t think you understand. I am now the Shania Twain master. Like, her biggest fan. All because of handy dandy Spotify. Don’t know where to start? Use the browse tool and just add random songs that you’ve never even heard. Those randos always surprised us and it was fun to learn the words to many new songs over the course of our trip.

Also, fun fact, S and I agreed that I would only listen to two Disney songs the whole two weeks we were on our trip. It was more like, I agreed 17% and the other 83% was all him.

Two. Like the number.

I’ll wait right here while you go back and read that.

I KNOW, RIGHT?! What do I do? Total red flag, am I right?

But seriously he only let me pick two. I think its because sometimes I forget that I’m not actually a Disney Princess so he has to remind me that I’m Savannah and its this heartbreaking moment and its very emotional for me. I don’t think he appreciates my Disney voices as much as the nuggets I babysit do. I chose Part of Your World (um, of course) and When Will My Life Begin from Tangled (because I would be out of my dang mind otherwise). Notice how I didn’t say Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid because if you don’t know where that song is from I don’t know if you should even keep reading because I’m not sure if we can be friends.

Kidding!

Sorta.

If you want to see the huge random thing that is my road trip playlist, click here and maybe you’ll see some songs you recognize. And by recognize I mean maybe you’ll see some Chris Brown from like 2001 and you might have middle school flashbacks. No, I did not include Soulja Boy in here. Sorry you guys. And for some reason I started off with all country. So if that’s not your thing you can just scroll down a little. I don’t really know why I did that.

Don’t: hurt the Earth.

One word here: biodegradable. Remember to leave the space how you found it! Camping might not be part of your road trip, but even if you’re staying in a rental or a hotel, make sure you respect the space and take good care of it.

To keep all of this stuff together, S and I just got a plastic caddy type thing and kept it on the floorboard of my car. We were going to keep it in the trunk, but we ended up adding snacks and things like hand sanitizer and wipes to the caddy so it was a good idea to keep it close.

I think those are all of my tips for now… do you have anything to add? Any questions? Want my packing list? Let me know below! I have SO much to do to get ready for Halloween tomorrow! I’M SO EXCITED! I’m not telling anyone what my costume is, but here’s a hint:

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Happy Halloween! Stay safe and hope you have a great weekend!

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  • Mikayla

    Definitely love making a playlist! It’s so nice for road trips! Love these tips!

    Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind.

    • Savannah

      Thanks so much! Yeah, if you can’t tell, I think that music is super important 😛

  • Love this post! Road trips take time to plan but you hit all the do’s and don’ts perfectly! Looks like you had a blast!

    Xo, Rach
    http://www.seashellsandsparkles.com

    • Savannah

      Thanks so much! LOVE LOVE your blog BTW! :]

  • This is seriously the best comprehensive road trip list that I’ve seen (also this trip sounds SO fun!) You’ve definitely inspired me to want to go camping soon!

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

    • Savannah

      Thank you SO much! Hope you’ve had a great weekend! :]

  • Great list!
    I always make playlists for roadtrips — its just essential.

    I have never truly camped but if I ever do I will be referring back to this post.

    xoxo, Jenny

    • Savannah

      I know right?! What would life be like without music? I can answer that: boring.

  • I’m obsessed with both of those disney songs so I would love to hear more of the playlist! Definitely some great tips for any adventure.

    Pick Your Beau

    • Savannah

      Thanks so much! :] There aren’t too many Disney songs on the playlist, but hopefully you’ll find a song you love on there!

  • I haven’t been on a road trip in so long! It definitely helps to be prepared, even just a little bit. It saves a lot of frustration! I really try to stick to your tip about packing biodegradable products. There’s enough pollution already!

    Alessandra | The PumpUp Blog

    • Savannah

      About the pollution: 🙁

      Finding biodegradable products was honestly so much fun! And it made me feel good to use them :]

  • This is such a fun post! And thank you for providing exact products for your examples. I’ve been looking into getting more biodegradable options for awhile, but didn’t know which ones to get!

    Courtney//As We Stumble Along

    • Savannah

      Thanks so much! It took a loooong time to pick out biodegradable products, but of course, so worth it.

  • These are such helpful tips! The longest road trip I’ve ever taken was 12 hours, and my dad is a saint and drove the whole thing. I would love to plan a trip out west, so this was an awesome help! Thank you!

    XO, SS || Seersucker Sass

    • Savannah

      Wowww 12 hours is a long time! Your dad is a superhero! I could barely do 4 hours straight while we were on our trip!

  • You’re always going on such great adventures! I am totally inspired. I agree that hurting the earth is a total DON’T!

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks Jordyn! I hope to go on lots more adventures :] I LOVE road trips!

  • Elana

    Wow! It looks like you guys had a great time and were definitely prepared! Thank you for these tips – I especially find it helpful to know the rules for all of the places you’re staying.

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks so much for your comment! Knowing the rules is super important. Hope you’re having a great week!