Thanksgiving means many things to many people: Copious buffets of autumnal treats like pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes, quality time with friends and family, and downtime to read and relax and get cozy. The Thanksgiving holiday season is also the unofficial road-trip season, when we embark on journeys near and far to celebrate feelings of gratitude, share holiday meals, visit farmed animal sanctuaries, and enjoy nature at its colorful zenith. Wherever you're headed this season, if you're traveling by car, consider these tips for a pleasant voyage and a stress-free start to the holiday season.
1. Pack Snacks
Roadside diners have their charm, but there's nothing noteworthy (or healthy) about a lunch cobbled together from gas-station mini-mart offerings. A little pre-departure prep makes for a much tastier, less fat-, sugar- and salt-laden alternative. Simple PB & J sandwiches, bags of trail mix or nuts, fresh and dried fruit, power bars, and seasoned tofu snacks are ideal road-snack options, since they don't require refrigeration. Pro tip: Use the hot-water dispenser at the mini-mart's coffee and soft-drinks station to fill up your to-go cup with your own tea bags or packaged miso soup inside. Ask first to make sure it's OK! (We've never had anyone turn us down, but it's better to ask first!)
2. Tune In
You don't want to get stuck listening to bad country or reductive pop when you lose your NPR signal, so load your Mp3 player up, and not just with the new A Tribe Called Quest album. Download a juicy thriller or classic novel and prepare to have the hours whizz by as you lose yourself in storytelling. Pro tip: Your local public library's eAudiobook catalog is an amazing resource that gives you access to the latest eBook and eAudiobook releases--for free!
3. Break It Up
Consult Google Maps (or an actual old-school map) or a guidebook (we're partial to Moon Guides) for interesting rest-stop breaks so you can stretch your legs, walk the dog, and take in an interesting vista, monument, or natural wonder while you're at it. Think of the car-journey as a mini-vacation with opportunities for exploration and yes, even fun! Pro tip: Several road-trip-specific apps, like Roadside America and Roadtrippers, offer oodles of ideas for quirky roadside attractions and noteworthy pit stops throughout the good ol' US of A.
4. Catch up
A long car ride can be great for reconnecting with your partner, sibling, or whomever you're roadtripping with. Use the hours and close proximity to disengage from your devices and reminisce, laugh, and even smooth over old hurts (if they're there, as they sometimes are--and better here than at the Thanksgiving table, right?). Need some conversation starters? How about, "What recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook should we make for the Thanksgiving buffet at Grandma's?" (It helps to have a copy of the book on hand, FYI.) Or, try "What's on your current Netflix rotation?" or "I'm grateful for cheap gas and your awesome company on this trip; what's got you pumped this holiday season?" Pro tip: No road trip is complete without at least one game. Try a twist on the name game, such as Vegan Food Game: Player #1 names a two-word vegan food item ("bean tacos") and player #2 follows with a vegan food item that begins with the first letter of the second word ("tempeh casserole"), then back to player #1 ("coconut sorbet"). Warning: This version can kick-start hunger pangs while simultaneously giving you great ideas for future meals.
What secret sauce do you add to your road trip to make it tasty and fun for everyone in the car? Leave a comment below for the chance to win a mystery roadtripping treat!