We road trippers tend to think of road trip stops in practical terms. We stop based on how much gas we have left, how hungry we are, how full our bladders are, or how badly we need to sleep.
But road trip stops can be so much more than just opportunities to refuel and recharge. You may find that your stops provide you with some of the most memorable moments on your whole trip.
As much as we love the open road—especially if it's a near-deserted open road—our stops have always provided us with much-welcomed chances to talk to the locals. And something as simple as a funny sign hung in a bathroom can give you fodder for conversation on the next leg of the trip.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your road trip stops:
Get away from the car. Sounds obvious, but some people only step out long enough to gas up, then get right back on the road. As long as you've stopped, you might as well take at least five minutes to stretch your legs.
Drink water. Or some other beverage that rehydrates you. You almost can't drink too much water while you're driving, especially if you're driving in the summer. Staying hydrated will lift your spirits and enhance your concentration.
Stretch. Sitting in a car isn't very ergonomic. Just stretching a few times a day during a road trip can dramatically cut down on the amount of stiffness you'll feel in the evening.
Get a little exercise. Here's where the real fun starts. If you're stopping at a grassy rest stop, try playing a little Frisbee. Throw a baseball or football around. Do some calisthenics. You'll get the blood pumping again and experience an endorphin rush.
Shop. Mini-marts have some of the most unintentionally hilarious gift items you'll ever see. If you happen to stop at a Pilot Travel Center, you'll really be able to kill some time and waste some money. Maybe even take a shower.
Take pictures. Nobody needs reminding to take a picture of road trip stops at the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, or the St. Louis Gateway Arch. But we recommend you take at least a picture or two at every stop. You may not find anything remarkable to photograph—but that's kind of the point. Most of America isn't breathtaking or awe-inspiring. But it's real, and it's what you're going to see on your road trip.
Plan unusual stops. This may be the most important tip
for anyone who's looking for road trip fun. When you're planning your
trip, look for points of interest and plan to take your breaks there. We
stopped at Oklahoma Panhandle State University just because I wanted to
buy a T-shirt (and did). But we still deeply regret not stopping by the
No Man's Land Museum in that same area.
So, enjoy your road trip stops. Take all the time you need. Remember: it's your vacation.