If you’ve been following this blog, you know that my husband and I just completed a phenomenal 30-day road trip across the U.S. in the process of moving from Tucson, AZ to NYC. I haven’t quite finished blogging about it, so don’t worry, I’m not leaving you hanging. But I wanted to interject with a few practical things that we found incredibly useful and wonderful to have on our trip – but most of them are good for everyday life, too. From list-making and cooking to hiking and listening to music, these apps and objects just make life better.
- AnyList – The free version is great, but the premium is well worth the $12/year. This app is so simple to use and replaces the easy-to-lose, never-have-it-when-I-need-it paper lists. You can even use Siri to add items to your lists! This app allows C and I to share our lists so that we can both keep track of our recipes, groceries, and to-do lists. We used this to ensure that we got everything done before leaving Tucson for our 30-day road trip. Perhaps the best feature of the premium version, though, is that you can upload recipes from websites, add your own recipes, and easily create a meal calendar and grocery list from these recipes. They thought of everything and it just makes everything really simple.
- Spotify. Everyone needs music for their road trip (and their lives), and Spotify is pretty great at providing that. C and I have the premium version so we don’t have ads and can just listen to music. Before the trip, we made some great playlists and downloaded as many as we could fit onto our phones so that we could still listen when we lost service on the road. Spotify is the shit.The anthem of my road trip and probably any road trip (especially if it involves a big move): “No Shortcuts” by Heather Maloney
- Podcasts. If you are not listening to podcasts yet, you really need to reconsider your life choices. I am usually a very visual person, so I didn’t think I’d be into audio-only podcasts. But it really just means that I can only listen to the really good ones. When I catch a bad one, I notice that my brain is totally off-topic and not listening at all. The best new podcast right now is Mystery Show. I would never have given this podcast a listen if my best friend from H.S. hadn’t recommended it (thanks Molly!). It is the only podcast I listen to that isn’t academic, but I still feel like I learn something about people, the world, and life from listening to it. And Starlee Kine, the host, is fucking amazing.
- REI National Parks app. This app was great for us because we were doing a LOT of last minute planning in the parks, and it gave us an easy way to find the best hikes in all the parks. It has pictures, descriptions, and reviews. But it’s new… so it’s certainly not perfect yet. One of the “2 mile” hikes we wanted to do actually ended up being a connecting hike that you had to find from a 16-mile trail. They’re still recruiting hikers and backpackers to help update the site, so if you want to “adopt” a trail and give them information, you are needed!
- For any extended camping trip, you are going to need a pot and quick boil system. We didn’t have room for a big grill or stove, so this minirocket system was perfect for us. It definitely came in handy for those moments when we were on the road and wanted a quick meal or when we got back to camp hangry and couldn’t wait for the fire to be started before cooking. There are all kinds of options out there, but we were quite happy with the MSR MicroRocket Stove and the GSI Cookset. We made sure to always have ramen or a backpacker’s freeze-dried meal on us so that we could cook something up quick in a pinch. But we also tried to cook on the fire as much as we could because it’s so much tastier!
- Bronner soap. My mom started buying this stuff when I was a kid, and I’ve avoided it ever since because I absolutely hated the peppermint smell of it. Turns out, though, it is incredibly versatile (especially for camping road trips) and you can buy the unscented variety. We bought a tiny bottle for about $4.50 and used it to: wash our hands at camp, wash our dishes, and wash our dog! We could have also used it for our laundry, but we had leftover homemade powder laundry soap that we brought with us in a zip lock baggy that we intended to label “not cocaine,” but we never got around to it.
- Google Maps. The last time we drove across the country (when we moved from Ohio to Arizona), cell phones were still of the flip or slide variety and certainly didn’t have internet and GPS on them. We printed our directions from MapQuest and hoped we didn’t get off track. This trip has been way easier and thus, more enjoyable. The best thing though is that we were able to search along our route to find upcoming restaurants and then use Yelp to see if the restaurants were any good. Unfortunately, we didn’t know we could do this until the last week of our trip, but better late than never! It has made finding lunch options much easier while road-tripping. There are plenty of things we don’t like about the app, but if you find me food when I’m hungry and help me avoid hour long delays due to accidents, I can forgive a lot of other things.
- Yoga Studio. This app helped me maintain my yoga practice while traveling. It has ready-made video classes that I was able to download on my phone. I typically go to hour long classes at a studio, but I found the 10-12 minute classes perfect for ensuring that I actually practiced instead of waiting for a time when I could practice for an entire hour.