I’m a pretty big fan of road trips. From family vacations to commuting back and forth to college on holidays, I’m not new to the road trip scene. I mean, I’ve driven from Georgia to Texas over the course of 36 hours in a moving truck with a dog and a navigationally-challenged boyfriend. So I’ve seen some shit, and I’ve learned some things.
The weekend before the 4th of July, Will (my boyfriend) and I took a mini-road trip up to his hometown 30 minutes outside of Dallas. I’ve been to Dallas before, but I really wanted to explore the city and try some new things. A mini road trip was the perfect way to do this because It’s the best of both worlds – a nice drive with some good scenery, and the chance to explore a new place.
But first, we needed to make sure we had the essentials.
Road Trip Essentials and Tips
Snacks are my number 1 requirement for road trips. Scratch that. Snacks are my number 1 requirement for life. I cannot do anything on an empty stomach, and I am a firm believer that everything will be ok as long as there is food.
Tip # 1: Snack Smart
Stock up on snacks before you hit the road. You know how gas prices tend to be higher in the middle of nowhere? It’s because the demand is high, and the supply is low. In my experience, the same thing happens with snacks! You’ll save money (and calories) by stocking up before you go. Plus as a girl who (should but doesn’t always) eats gluten free, it’s so much easier to bring my own snacks than hope that the fast food chicken nuggets that are fried in literal gluten won’t make me sick. (This hope has never proven true.)
Tip #2: Bulk Up Before You Go
Bulk. Bins. Are. Key. Find a local grocery store that has bulk bins. And then go crazy. Food is priced by the pound and you fill up a bag or box yourself. So you can get as much or as little as you’d like. I usually go for the former.
We got almonds, corn nuts, trail mix, and chocolate covered peanuts (aka 2 pounds of food!) for about $12. That’s the same price as 2 Big Mac combos, and it definitely lasted us longer and was way healthier. (Can you tell I was craving McDonalds when I wrote this, because I can).
Bonus Tip! Bulk bins are also a great place to stock up on dry goods for your everyday life. I’m talking rice, quinoa, tea, and coffee galore.
If you’re anything like me, then you get tired of music after a while. I know. Call me crazy, but I just can’t seem to focus on it for long enough. I’m definitely growing into a podcast girl, and these are some of my current favorites:
We’re Alive: My new favorite podcast! Remember how back in old timey days they had radio shows where each week a new episode came out that was a continuation of one storyline? Yeah, this is that. Except it’s about the aftermath of the zombie apocalyps. And it’s fan-fucking-tastic.
How I Built This: Each episode is a conversation with the founder of a different business. They’ve got everything from Lyft to Five Guys to Patagonia. Definitely for those business minded types or anyone who loves a good success story.
Dais: This one’s for you creative types! Similar to How I Built This in that each episode focuses on one person’s story. Hosted by the fabulous, Rachel Hollis, who you should definitely check out if you haven’t already.
I’m never one to go into a situation without a plan if I can help it. I’m the person that painstakingly schedules out my entire day (from gym time to work projects to time to relax). So of course I went in with a detailed plan for the weekend. I even typed it up. And yes, Will laughed at me.
Since Will and I have been to Dallas before, we knew of a couple places that we wanted to check out. We ended up having a nice mix of places: a place we knew and loved, a place we had been before that had been renovated, and a couple places that were totally new to us.
Tip #3: Stick to the Stuff You Know
Most people would say to always try new things when you’re in a new place. But sometimes it’s nice to know the lay of the land. You can relax in the familiarity and really let loose. And for me, that’s when some of the best times are had. Remember, a good time and good memories aren’t only made in a zone of new-ness.
For instance. Will and I went to this little Spanish restaurant for lunch one day. We’d been before, and it wasn’t fancy, but it’s where we had our very first date. The memory of the place was what made it special, and we had a better time just being able to reminisce and joke around.
Tip #4: Mess with the Flow… Slightly
Check out a place that’s sliiightly different from a place you would normally go.
For us, this meant going to the Dallas Farmer’s Market. We’d been before, but not since they’d renovated the place to be bigger and include an indoor market. It was a great way to meet some locals, plus there were free samples. And I love when the words “free” and “samples” appear in the same sentence.
Tip #5: Break the Status Quo
Go on a “true” adventure, and explore someplace new!
Pro tip: Use murals as your guide. Now if you know me (or follow me on Instagram), you know I’m obsessed with murals. It’s a fairly new obsession. But it runs deep. So of course I had to find some murals in Dallas, and it ended up being a great way to explore the city! I chose 4 murals in 3 areas of the city, and it was a great way to get to know the different parts of town.
We explored Oak Cliff, Deep Ellum, and the downtown area on our hunt for murals. We were short on time before we had to head back to Austin, but I’d suggest taking some time to explore the area around the murals. We especially loved the Deep Ellum area! There were some awesome looking shops and restaurants that we want to check out next time we go.
If you could plan your own mini-adventure, where would you go?