So you wanna do a crazy road trip?

You may have noticed, over the past several weeks, that I am quite the aficionado of epic road trips that lean a little bit toward the crazy & follow routes tending toward the unexplored. I've been a road trip fan since my youth, when my mom & I would set off on adventures around the West Coast. We drove from our home in Portland, Oregon, to the Grand Canyon; Los Angeles; Sedona, AZ; Las Vegas; Vancouver BC; Seattle; New Orleans, LA; & just about everywhere in between. Once we flew to the East Coast & road tripped around Massachusetts & New York from Salem to Utica!

I'm not saying it's a good idea to snap photos while driving, but the open desert is cool.

The open road is a friend of mine, & I especially love driving through & to the otherwise forgotten strange side towns no longer on the main highways. Especially in the desert. I love the creepy lost towns of the desert. My mom & I have been to ghost towns & old mines, exploring whatever we could find close-ish to home. That love of driving has stuck with me to this day.

Yes, I have a very tiny car. But it gets excellent gas mileage!

Now I am a connoisseur of the short road trip. Taking treks with friends to basically every beach along the southern California coast. Seeing how far we can drive in a set window of time, & finding all the weird little adventures along the way.

Helpful if you actually know how to use your cellphone camera.

So, after these many adventures in my tiny car I thought I'd lay out my four tips for hitting the road.

1: Get a MAP. A real paper map.
It is astonishingly hard to find a map nowadays. Yes, you can use your phone for most of your navigational needs, but if you're venturing out into the desert or the wilds a good distance from any city chances are you're not going to have cell service. If you have a decent sense of direction you may be totally fine, after all there aren't usually a lot of options for possible roads to take on these routes. But I've watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre too many times, so I want a map with me always in case I need to run away into the desert from some kind of deranged desert killer.

2: Think like my Dad, inspect your vehicle.
Every time I drive anywhere more than 35 mins away my dad lectures me about "checking my fluids" & "how's that tire pressure?" It's very annoying, but it's also true. You really don't want to be in the middle of nowhere & suddenly realize you're low on water & your car is overheating (especially bad in the deserts out here in California). Check all your car's fluids, then check the tire pressure. Both will also help with your gas mileage on the road. I usually bring a gallon or two of water with me as well, just in case. At about $1.00 at the grocery store in my neighbourhood in LA, it's money well spent for the piece of mind.

You're going to want snacks. Trust me. Even if you're not particularly hungry you're going to want snacks. They crunching always helps keep me awake on long drives. My recent trip to Lime Oregon was a 14 hour drive ONE WAY which I only survived by eating a huge amount of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. The kinds of food you're going to find in towns right off the highway are generally not going to be paragons of health (& I'm vegan, making it even HARDER) so having some good snacks will help you survive on more than potato chips.

4: Go with the flow.
Chances are pretty good that the trip isn't going to go exactly how you planned. Go with it. The highway you wanted to take is under construction? Ok, bust out that map & find a secondary route. Many of the most fascinating things I've spotted on road trips have been because we deviated from our original plan, just go with it & you'll find some awesome secrets along the highway. Sometimes you might need to sleep in the car. Not a huge deal. Bring a pillow & some water to brush your teeth & you'll be golden!

Getting ready to sleep in my tiny car along the side of the road outside Lime, Oregon.
Not the most ideal sleeping situation that's for sure.

America really is a fascinating & strange place. If you're a coastal baby like me (born in Oregon, lived in New York & now Los Angeles) you miss a lot when you fly over that whole center chunk. So, hit the road & see some of the weirdness this country has to offer!