Your Guide to the Perfect Texas Road Trip
Travel essentials to maximize your mobile vacation
By Julia Jones
Jetting off on vacation by plane has its advantages, like efficiency and built-in downtime. But the disadvantages can outweigh the upsides: Air travel means missing out on the freedom and sense of adventure that come with road-tripping. The open road affords unplanned discoveries and cultural oddities, taking in the view at a scenic overlook for however long you like, and the feeling of satisfaction when you stop and stretch your legs out in the fresh air. A road trip is its own reward, no matter your final destination.
GPS and smartphones have made taking a road trip easier than ever before, but all you reallyneed are miles of asphalt (which Texas has in abundance), a car packed with your favorite snacks, and activities to keep you entertained. Just ask Chet Garner, a Texas Highways contributor and host of The Daytripper on PBS.
“There are times when you just need to put on some music, roll down the windows, and keep your eyes on the horizon,” he says. “Don’t just stare at your phone; you’re sabotaging your own road trip.” Garner averages about 45 road trips per year and has been traveling in Texas for more than 10 years, so he’s learned a few things. (See Chet’s Road Tips for more.)
According to an annual American Automobile Association survey, more than two-thirds of American families take vacations each year, with 53% opting for road trips. If you’re one of those families, we hope these suggestions keep you on the right path.
“Always pack a swimsuit—you never know.”
“Leave time to follow the whims of the backroads.”
“Pace yourself on food. There’s going to be an old lady making something delicious in some small town, or an up-and-coming baker, and you’re going to want to eat that chocolate chip cookie.”
“Keep your head up and your mind present.”
Need inspiration for your next Texas trip?
Rules of the Road
Don’t hesitate to make detours. Road trips are all about discovering new places.
Stop and stretch often. Your muscles will thank you, and your focus will be replenished.
Put away your screens. Let the passing scenery—and chats with your fellow travelers—be your source of entertainment.
Play it safe. Get plenty of rest when you can so you stay alert on the road. Sleeping for at least eight hours each night is a good start.
Buc-ee’s convenience stores and gas stations throughout the state
Square miles of Texas to roam
The year El Camino Real was built, making it the oldest highway in the U.S.
Texas slug bug
Don’t see enough VWs out on the highway to justify a game of Slug Bug? Try a game of Wooly Dually instead. How? If you see a dually (a pickup truck with two rear wheels on each side), punch (lightly) the person in the seat next to you.
Mark off all of these and you’re well on your way to completing an epic Texas road trip.
Just Do It
- Stock up on snacks at H-E-B
- Listen to an audiobook by a Texas author
- Take a bathroom break at Buc-ee’s
- Learn something new at a historical marker
- Sing “On the Road Again,” out loud, word for word
- With a Longhorn (from a distance!)
- In front of a small-town courthouse
- In a field of wildflowers
- Hanging with a real-deal cowboy
- Jumping into a swimming hole
- DQ Blizzard
- Topo Chico
- Dr Pepper
- Gas station tacos
(better yet, gas station barbecue tacos)