Tips & Tricks for Road Tripping Between Travel Contracts
After three years of travel nursing, ten travel contracts, and nearly 45,000 miles on my Jeep you could say I have a bit of experience on the ins and outs of road tripping. While shipping your car is always an option too, I have personally always chosen to drive. Mainly because I’m an over-packer with a ton of shoes and I travel with my favorite travel companion, my cat Calvin! For the most part, I thoroughly enjoy the drive (thank you, cruise control!) and the opportunities to stop at national parks, and cool cities along the way! Driving to my contracts have allowed me to stop at some pretty awesome places like Yellowstone National Park, Bonneville Salt Flats, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, and Zion National Park!
Let’s Get Going!
My sequence of events when I start to plan my trip begins shortly after securing my next travel gig. I map out my drive and see what I can stop at on the way. If time allows, I will even consider driving out of my way, to an extent, to see some more places, or visit friends and family! Twice now, I’ve convinced my childhood best friend to fly out and drive with me to my next contract. We’ve made amazing memories and got to make a fun trip out of it!
Make Planning Your Road Trip Easier (& Cheaper)
I’ve discovered a lot of apps & services that have made this process seamless. Here are some of my favorites-
- Hotels.com and Hotels Tonight apps are SO great! They make it so easy and I really do think these two have the best deals. I’ve compared them to expedia, priceline, you name it. Their search system is so easy to navigate that I can normally book my hotel for THAT night while I’m stopped getting gas or lunch. They both have a perk/reward system that gives you money off, or free stays the more you book with them.
- Credit card points: I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. I use it for literally everything so I rack up a ton of points. (Use credit cards wisely) So many that I was able to book a week of hotels using my points! I will say their search system on the Chase app isn’t as user friendly as I’ve seen before but it gets the job done. I believe the Chase Sapphire reward system for travel and hotels is one of the better ones out there. (I’ve booked a round trip ticket to Europe (pre-COVID) using my points!)
- Gas Buddy app. Don’t fall for highway robbery gas prices! This app is heavily frequented on my phone (especially when I lived in California- IYKYK). It scans your location for the cheapest gas at that current time based on real people who are there to get gas and report the price. You can make an account and report gas prices for other people to see too! Also- some gas stations are cheaper if you pay in cash vs credit/debit!
- Roadtrippers, The Trip Planner app. This one is AWESOME. You put in your destination and then a ton of suggestions pop up for sightseeing, hikes, trails, parks along the way! They mainly focus on ones right off the highway, but it’s great for people who just want to get out of the car for a bit that day.
- AAA- not so much an app, but very smart to have for someone who drives across the country frequently. The classic membership fees are as low as $58 a year and have a lot of benefits. Battery jumpstarts, towing services, tire change, vehicle lock out services and tons of discounts at hotels and attractions! Better to be safe than sorry. I have used them more than I would like to admit!
- Audible Books & your favorite podcasts! Listening to a great book or podcast can make all the difference on a long drive.
Take Breaks When You Need Them!
This may make it seem like it’s all rainbows and sunshine which is not always the case. At times road trips can be exhausting, lonely, and honestly boring. Anyone who has driven through Nebraska or Iowa knows this feeling!
I fully believe drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Utilize the rest stops, they’re there for a reason! Even a 20 minute cat nap, or just getting out of the car can really refresh you. I can drive very long days, but again, I’m used to it. Listen to your body and don’t worry if your plans change a bit.
Try and give yourself some buffer time in between contracts in case your trip takes longer than expected! I’ve learned that getting up with the chickens is a lot easier than leaving later in the day. You’re the first one on the road and then you can throw in the towel in the evening and you’ve still put in a lot of hours.
Few last words of wisdom
Always, always make sure your car is in good shape before you hit the road. Take a look at your tire tread, make sure there are no check engine lights on, and make sure the air conditioning is working properly. Also, make sure your spare tire and all the needed accessories are in their proper place!
Eating on the road can be difficult, but try and stay away from a ton of fast food (easier said than done, I know). Heavy, greasy food will put you into a food coma making you sleepy! I always go to the grocery store before I leave and stock up on apples, oranges, Chex Mix and candy for the road!
Caffeine…...I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one. LOL. I’m always on the lookout for the next Starbucks drive-thru.
Lastly, enjoy the ride. If you have the time, make the most of it! Some of my best travel adventures have been in between contracts! Stop at the scenic lookout, go to the small hole in the wall local restaurant, support local shops, and talk to the locals! They have the best advice.
May your coffee be strong, and your podcasts be juicy. Safe travels!
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