I went LIVE on Instagram and asked if there was anything people would like me to talk about and Ashley brought up my walkabouts.
If you aren’t aware, I’ve spent about a year of my life just driving around with my dog and no plan.
Knowing this, Ashley asked if I had any travel tips for the road.
So here are 8 travel tips I would recommend for anyone on a long road trip.
Carry enough fuel with you to cover 400 miles
How far can your vehicle go on a tank of gas?
If that distance is less than 400 miles, go by a gas canister for extra gas that makes up the difference.
You’re looking for 400 miles TOTAL between your tank and your bonus gas.
Are you ever going to need ALL of those 400 miles to save your bacon on the road?
Not likely — unless you’re driving across Canada — but that’s kind of the point. Most of the time, you’re only going to need ~50 miles worth of gas to get you out of a terrible situation, but sometimes you need more.
But 400 miles covers you in nearly every situation. So just plan for it and thank yourself later.
Have simple emergency food to last you for 3 days
This is a perfect one not to overthink. You’re looking for food that takes up little space but provides nutritional value, in case of an emergency.
In my case, I had:
- 1 canister of a meal-replacement powder (technically, 28 servings)
- 5 gallons of water
- 1 shaker cup
Did I ever need three days of emergency food while I was on the road?
But did I ever mix some powder and water together to give myself some calories when I was out in the middle of nowhere, just because I could?
Talk to people
This may seem counterintuitive because we are often taught to treat new roads and people with trepidation.
But the truth is that nobody you meet on the road woke up that morning imagining your paths would cross. You’re just catching them in the middle of their lives.
Talking to everyday people in different regions is important because they are going to teach you the difference between safe people and actual predators.
Normal people keep things casual and public. They are curious and helpful without being clingy. And they never try to isolate you.
Once you have several interactions with healthy people, you will start to feel the rhythm of the catch-and-release of healthy interactions with locals who are happy to introduce you to their stomping ground before getting back to their day.
Then, when a manipulative person with ulterior motives crosses your path, you will feel something is off.
You will hear something is off.
And you can trust yourself.
Find a safe way to exit the interaction and get back on your way.
If you don’t have the contrast of healthy interactions, you will not be able to distinguish between your anxieties and an actual threat.
And an anxious person who is disconnected from their gut instincts actually makes for an eye-catching target.
So talk to people until you have a sense of how locals talk with tourists.
Then trust yourself when your gut doesn’t like someone, remove yourself from their path, and never look back.
Leave weapons home
When I went on my walkabouts, several people approached me about bringing weapons. Two people even offered to let me bring their guns.
I say this as a former karate instructor:
Unless you have trained with a weapon — including handling it under situations of high stress and adrenaline — you are likely just handing an attacker a weapon that will be used against you.
Let’s say you did take a gun on a trip for protection.
- Do you know what to do if the gun jams?
- Is your possession of the gun legal?
- How many times have you been to a firing range and have you ever fired at anything other than rings of circles?
These are all things that come into play when your adrenaline is through the roof in an attack situation.
Unless you have trained with a weapon, can store it properly, and handle it without looking at it, it is a liability — not protection — in a dangerous situation.
Because the truth is that adrenaline rushes make people clumsy, sweaty, tunnel-visioned, and thoughtless.
You know when people are terrified in movies and run away — only to trip and fall while running like a freak?
So stupid, you probably think. That’s not how it is.
But such depictions are actually pretty accurate to adrenaline’s impact on the body in a crisis situation.
We talk anecdotally about adrenaline giving people superhuman strength to do things like lift cars in a crisis, but that is not typical.
People in the military, law enforcement, and martial arts spend hundreds (or thousands) of hours training their bodies to perform in stressful situations for the simple fact that adrenaline responses are not known for making people more capable.
So if you can’t handle a weapon with your eyes closed, don’t take it on the road with you.
Because I’m pretty sure statistics still say that it is far more likely to harm you or someone you love than an attacker.
Your greatest defense on the road — in almost all situations — is being unarmed and innocent.
Keep that advantage and leave your weapons home unless you are trained and the weapons are legal wherever you are headed.
Let someone lowkey track your trip
Part of safety on the road is someone back home knowing where you are.
Part of staying sane on your trip is having this person NOT be an obsessed or anxious person who is going to stress you out.
The person you want to track your trip is highly responsible with a full life. They care about you but they don’t have the time, desire, or personality to stalk you.
This person is your first point of contact if something is off.
Let this person track your GPS and create a check-in schedule with them.
Give them nothing to do so long as you are doing your part. The ONLY time they have to do something is if you don’t keep your schedule and they can’t contact you.
Then they should have a plan for who to contact and what to do next.
BONUS: One thing I did whenever I was in an iffy situation was text my person pictures of people I was with and any unexpected address I was heading to. And I ALWAYS let the people I was with know I was doing it for safety reasons.
Not a single stranger was offended. In fact, almost all of them felt better after I did it.
Sometimes, someone you know will be an hour or two out of the way.
Offer to visit them. Why not?
They can decline — or, sometimes, they agree to a visit but you can hear the stress dripping off of their voice as they do. (You can use your judgment in those situations as to whether the timing is right.)
Traveling offers you the rare chance to see old friends in their new environments and experience the world their living in.
And that is always worth a few-hour drive.
Do your research before bringing any animals
I took my dog with me on my walkabouts.
There were perks to having a dog along, but there are also a LOT of drawbacks.
SO MANY doors are shut to you when you have an animal with you. And it is not humane to keep them in cars or hotel rooms while you go do touristy things. (If you’re mentally arguing with me on this claim, just trust me. Don’t do it … unless you’re rich and your animal is used to it.)
I could have done so much more on my trip and visited places like National Parks, museums, and countless other spots most people want to see on the road.
I chose to save those visits for another time and brought my dog.
That was the right choice for me. She watched my back like a guardian angel and quickly cleared out anyone who didn’t pass the vibe check.
Bringing my dog was the right choice for me.
Weigh the pros and cons of bringing your pet(s) on long trips with you, then do what’s best for you both.
This is something I DIDN’T do that I WISH I did.
Document the little things.
Take pictures, but never let taking pictures keep you from experiencing the moment.
See everything with a curious mind and document what’s new to you and how you first experienced it.
Someday, you’re going to look back and marvel that you ever wrote such things because you will have totally forgotten at least half of it.
And you’re going to light up all over again when you remember.
There you have it: These are my top 8 tips for taking long road trips.
Thank you, Ashley, for asking me to FINALLY write them down.