Essential Guide to a Kickass Road Trip

Are you heading home this holiday season? Or taking some much needed vacation time to travel with your friends? Let’s talk about road trips for a hot minute.

One of my best friends and I took a road trip along the coast of California from San Diego to San Francisco, with several stops through Big Sur… It. Was. Stunning. Road trips can be one of the most fun and memorable – not to mention beautiful – ways to travel… but they can also be a huge pain in the ass. Here are some ways to upgrade your road trip so everyone has a kickass time.


Dress to Impress… yourself

There are two ends of this spectrum: One – you want to look cute and “travel ready,” which typically means compromising comfort. FOR HOURS. Don’t go there. Two – you just want to be comfortable, which typically means you’re wearing whatever you wore to bed the night before (which prevents all those cute road trip photo ops, right?).
Happy Medium: A cute sweatshirt + sweet kicks. My favorites: A Wildfox crewneck and Nike Roshes, or a boxy, cropped JCrew fleece and Converse.

Upgrade your H2O

Turn “cramped up in the car” vibes into “sprawled out at a spa” vibes: infuse your water. This  fitfuser bottle from fitlosophy has a space for fruit, herbs, or whatever your heart/tastebuds desire. Orange + vanilla bean? Cucumber + raspberry? The world is your oyster. Get some recipe ideas here.

BB_SFandBigSur02Make a Collaborative Playlist

No one likes an aux cord hog, amirite? Set up a collaborative Spotify playlist before your trip so everyone gets a say… and by a say, I mean a song. May I also recommend: any of Aziz Ansari’s stand up sessions (also on Spotify).

Bring a neck pillow

Sometimes you might need to take a power nap before switching driving shifts. I got something like this at an airport once, and it works just as well in land vehicles as it does in aircrafts. Next test: boating.

Freshen up (the air)

If you’re making yourself at home, you may as well make the place smell like home. Since you’re in moving car, setting something aflame isn’t ideal – opt for a fire-free car candle or air freshener.


Plan your gas stops

Don’t do what we did, and end up at the only gas station for miles, paying nearly $6/gallon for regular. Calculate your mileage in advance, and pick gas stations on the map along your route using an app like Waze. It’s a total pain in the ass, but way less of a pain in the ass than paying more than double to fill up. Think of all the coffee you could buy with that money! You may also want to use this approach to planned bathroom stops (my go-to is usually Starbucks – much cleaner than gas stations and they’re EVERYWHERE).


Step up your snack game

Speaking of coffee, you want to maximize snacktime and minimize stop time. Plan ahead with your favorite treats and bring sustenance: set up a cooler with ice packs, and stock up on iced coffees, extra water for your water infuser, fruits (bananas, apples and oranges are known to pack a little extra energy), almonds, and pre-made sandwiches if you’re feeling enthusiastic. Fan favorite: some fancy trail mix (I made mine with dried pineapple & papaya, macadamia, coconut flakes, walnuts & white chocolate). Don’t forget the napkins.


Pack the essentials

Eye drops, eye cream, hand cream, lip balm… whatever works for you to keep you comfortable and content. Pack those in a small bag you’ll keep with you in your seat, separate from your luggage. I like a brightening eye cream, and this hand & body cream – both from First Aid Beauty.


Take the scenic route

Whenever possible, take the long way (or whichever way is prettier). I’ve driven to SF two dozen or so times, and I can tell you that despite the added hours, it is so worth it to take the coast versus I-5. Make the drive more enjoyable and take in all the new sights… and get some great photos.


Are you ready? Get that map out, pick a spot, call your best friend and pack your bags: it’s time to go places.


all photos © Arielle Vey photography

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