The temperatures have warmed up, the sun is out more and longer, and the flowers have bloomed. People from all over Michigan are getting out on the road heading up north, to Lake Michigan, to downtown Detroit or wherever else. Whether it is just a day trip, or multi-day Michigan summer road trip, here are some tips for preparing for an adventure and some for once on the road:
Check the weather: Michigan does have unpredictable weather at times, but take a glance at the forecast for when you’ll be on the road. If there is some flexibility built-in maybe you can set out a few hours earlier, or later, or travel from A to B a different day during your trip in order to maximize the road trip experience.
Recreation Passport: If you’re renewing your license plate during the summer time period, spend the $11 and get a Michigan State Park pass. It will grant you access to over a hundred state parks and the walkways, natural beauty, beaches and waterfront contained within. State parks, or one of the ten Michigan DNR Customer Service Centers, will have them as well. If you’re outside of Michigan, don’t miss out! You can grab one on Michigan.gov.
Prep vehicle: Make sure your vehicle is in good working order: get an oil change, fluid, tire pressure and lights check. Also have a flashlight, jumper cables, and spare tire on hand. It’d be a good idea to have extra food, bottled water, and blankets available in case you get stranded remotely.
Charge, charge, charge: Have those smart phones, cameras, tripods, and other devices ready to go. You don’t want to miss capturing that random Michigan scene. Plug them into your vehicle’s USB port to charge if possible while on the road. A portable USB charger could also become your best friend. Bring spare batteries as well, if applicable.
Water gear: When in Michigan, you’re always within 85 miles of a Great Lake, and there is probably a random lake, river, or stream right on your door step. Pack those swimsuits! Don’t miss an opportunity to take a summer dip, hit the beach, or go on a kayaking, canoeing, or boating adventure.
Soundtracks: Get that summer music playlist and iPod ready! Start jamming on the road while you’re “Soaking up the Sun.” You’re bound to pass a convertible while on the road that is blasting summer tunes “All Summer Long.” If not a summer tune, any songs that mention Michigan would be perfect as well.
Bye, bye interstate: Once on the road, get off the freeway, or multi-lane road, and out onto the country, wilderness, lakeside or small-town two lane road. That leads to the next tip.
Off the beaten path: Be open to change. You don’t have to follow the itinerary to a tee. Follow a random road sign that peaks your interest. Who knows? The most memorable moment of your road trip could be that random small-town, coffee shop, winery, or tourist spot you came across.
Reach out Socially: Use Foursquare to check-in and discover places near where you are. Read the user tips. Great friends can be made with Yelp and TripAdvisor. Post a picture to Instagram, or reach out on Facebook and Twitter. Use and follow popular Michigan hashtags like #MittenLove and #PureMichigan. These things might give you new ideas when planning and lead to some more spontaneity during your road trip.
Navigational Aid: A great summer road trip includes some randomness, but at the same time you should have some help at the ready whether it be Garmin GPS, Google Maps off your phone, or the old-school, trusty paper atlas. You want to get to your ultimate destination safely and without hassle.
What additional tips and advice would you give for preparing or once on a summer road trip in Michigan?