A road trip playlist and other essentials.

I’m getting really good at the whole road-trip thing this year. With weddings and travel scattered all over Minnesota and the greater Midwest, my trusty car(s) and I have racked up thousands of miles since last October, and I’m (mostly) loving it. The keys to a successful road trip, in my books? Tunes, snacks, and plenty of distractions!

After back-to-back road trips to Kansas City and Chicago early this summer, I realized how quickly I get tired of the same-old, same-old music, even more so when on the road. Luckily Kels makes a fantastic road-trip DJ and kept things fresh the entire way to KC and back. Inspired by her eclectic picks, I made myself a crazy-diverse mix for road travel. You can find the playlist on Spotify here…follow along! A few of my favorites:

-Epic inclusion of Disney. Nothing like shrieking along to “Let It Go” to revitalize yours truly.

-Nineties throwbacks. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Two Princes,” “Roll to Me,” “Crazy For This Girl,” all the classics…and perfect for sing-alongs.

-Country. I’m turning into more and more of a country “lite” fan these days, and something about country just seems perfect for the open road.

-BOY BANDS. What could top N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, One Direction, and Jonas Brothers? Except maybe Five’s “When The Lights Go Out”…the scandalous hit that rocked the third grade back in the day? (You know you love it.)

-Chart-toppers. Current favorites that I’m (still) not sick of: “Want to Want Me” by Jason Derulo, “Fun” by Chris Brown, “Shut up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, EVERYTHING by Taylor Swift, of course “Uptown Funk” and “Sugar,” and even a little Bieber...oops. Upbeat, fun, dance-in-your-driver’s-seat kind of tunes!

-My latest and greatest indie obsessions. To flesh things out, I threw in plenty of BORNS, Sheppard, Lord Huron, and Hozier (even though Hozier continues to become more and more popular and that makes me selfishly sad).

As for snacks…a mix of salty and sweet is essential. I’m partial to Goldfish because they’re not messy, and “the snack that smiles back” makes a great mid-trip pick me up. Sweet snacks MUST include licorice…since I’m driving, I usually go with the basic Twizzlers even though Pull’n’Peel is way more fun. To round out options, I like banana chips, trail mix, or Chex Mix Muddie Buddies…basically puppy chow.

And finally, distractions: dumb road trip games are a must. With passengers, I love the alphabet game (fine a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet in order, winner is the first through). Kels taught me this totally stupid but addictive one halfway through Iowa en route to KC. It's called the Cow Game: if you see cows, you say “MY COWS!” If you see a graveyard, you can “kill” everyone else’s cows. If you see a church, you can “save” your (killed) cows. There’s no way to keep track of who has how many cows, it’s just a fun distraction in the land of endless dairy farms. Not going to lie, I’ve come close to starting up a “Slug Bug NO BACKS” war in the thick of traffic…anything to pass the time!

Like I said, I've become a bit of a pro. Between Kansas City, Chicago, a few different cabin weekends, and upcoming trips for weddings and football and friends on the East Coast, I've got plenty of road hours logged for the year. Here's to the open road, speeding just a little, and loving the journey as much as the destination!