Last night I gave a presentation at IgniteOKC with road trip advice for beginners and suggestions for destinations in Oklahoma. With it being Memorial Day Weekend, this article elaborates and expands on my talk. Some of my advice may seem obvious, but to beginners, they’re not and I want to break the barrier of what to do so everyone can have an adventure.
A road trip doesn’t have to be long. A road trip can happen in your own city. Now, before I discuss some of my suggestions for things to do here in Oklahoma, I’m going to share my advice on how to prepare and pack for a road trip because preparation is key to an enjoyable time.
No matter how short of a trip, bring water. Invest in a large insulated container, such as the big red bucket pictured above. It’s super helpful for day trips as we’ll use it to fill up our water bottles, keeping our water nice and cold in the heat of Oklahoma. If you’re into hiking, look into getting a backpack with a water pouch.
You don’t want to ruin a road trip because you got hangry so pack some snacks. Bring apples, bananas, crackers, granola bars, string cheese and put them in an insulated lunch box with some cold packs. Money saver right there.
Personally, we like to clean out our car, empty trash, that sort of thing so when we load up, we can be organized. Also, just clean up your place in general so when you get back, you can relax. The last thing you’ll want to do after a road trip is cleaning. Plus, it’s easier to tell if someone’s been in your place while you were away.
Here’s something we think about in advance when loading the car. Make needed things accessible. If it’s just you and a friend, put the snacks, water, and things you’ll want in a way that whoever has shotgun can grab them.
You also want to be safe. Bring a first aid kit, sun screen, oil, jumper cables, window breaker, and wet wipes. Depending on where you go in Oklahoma, putting on sun screen spray may not be ideal on a windy day, so consider lotion. Parents, bring some empty bags in case you hear, “My tummy hurts.”
Regardless of your expertise, every road trip is the perfect excuse to do some car maintenance. Check your oil and coolant. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, pretty much all oil change places will give it a look over for you when you buy an oil change. If you have an elertic car, just make sure you have a full charge and you know where your charging stations are located.
Finally, check your tires and know how to change them. The selfie is of my wife and I changing our first flat tire together. This incident happened in the middle of nowhere and by doing it ourselves, we were able to get back on the road faster. It can happen and if you know how to put on a spare tire yourself, it will save you time.
Did you know that the position of a highway’s exit sign number might indicate which side you’ll have to exit on? I can’t guarantee all signs are like this across the country, but it can help you determine which lane to get into. Newer signs will tend to state where the exit will be found.
Let’s bring the Oklahoma road trip suggestions with a journey to the Center of the Universe. No, really, that’s the name of this unusual stone circle spot in Tulsa. If you stand in the center of this circle, whatever you say, will echo back only to you. It’s really trippy.
While we’re still in Tulsa, let’s talk about a hidden gem that you won’t stumble upon unless you know where it is. I’m talking about the Tulsa Botanical Garden. It’s absolutely beautiful and worth seeking out.
If traversing between OKC and Tulsa, take Route 66. See POPs, see the Flying Saucer of Stroud, OK Country 66, and whatever catches your eye. In general, just mix things up and take a new route and you might find something cool.
One of our common road trip destinations is about an hour drive from Oklahoma City and it is in Sulphur, where you can experience the Chickasaw National Recreational Area. Hiking in the water streams is a ton of fun. I definitely recommend that.
For some closer nature hidden in Oklahoma City, I’m always surprised as to how many people I meet that have never heard of the Martin Park Nature Center. It’s west of Quail Springs Mall and has trails suited for a leisurely stroll right here in the city.
For a road trip in the very sense of a “road” trip, take the Talimena National Scenic Byway. The byway is in southeast Oklahoma and it’s one of the top spots in the state to see fall foliage. We go pretty much every year.
As an adult, even I enjoyed digging for crystals at the Great Salt Plains State Park. It’s easy, it’s fun, and there’s lots more to do in the area that makes it worth the drive, like the auto nature tour.
For a mix of nature and small town life, go to Medicine Park and the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. Medicine Park has a long history as a resort town and the wildlife refuge has Mount Scott to drive on the creepy parallel forest.
Studies have shown you can be happier if you take frequent vacations. Everything I talked about above was free, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money. There are so many things to do. You just got to look outside your bubble, and you’ll find adventure. For more road trip articles, click here.