Three-year olds know the ultimate secret to a successful road trip. Pull over, get out of the car and play at least once every three hours. This was a valuable lesson learned from an actual preschooler… under the duress of a marathon drive, I might add.

Beyond slowing down to smell the roses and always stopping to take pictures atop roadside, plastic dinosaurs (no exceptions!), a good road trip is all about a little advanced planning and the right frame of mind.

Nikwax is your one-stop source for advanced planning when it comes to your gear. You’ll be proud of yourself for taking the time to reproof your rain gear when an unexpected low-pressure system follows you across the country. Your feet will thank you for the protection when you treat your leather boots before heading out on a new trail every day.

Everyone from Clark Griswold to Starwood Resorts has tips for the perfect road trip. Since we’re always out to get off the beaten path anyway, we’ve come up with five little discussed tips that will improve any road trip – from basic to luxury.

5) Always lock valuables in the trunk of the car. Seems like a simple idea, but this little story we stumbled upon illustrated the importance of follow through. If you’re like us, you’re in denial that the Car Talk guys are going off the air. Fortunately, their website is still live and filled with pearls of wisdom, such as: if you drive a convertible and opt for a Speedo as swimwear, trust your instincts over your fellow man and keep an extra set of clothes locked in the trunk. Read how a Car Talk listener came by this helpful tidbit here.

4) When you’re the passenger, you have three responsibilities: play good music, navigate with confidence and don’t stink. The first is subjective, the second learned, and the third is just gross so no one other than juvenile boys (and apparently us) brings it up. Nikwax can’t have your back for all the ways you may stink, but we sure do on two of them. Pack a small tube of Basewash Travel Gel so you can give a quick and easy wash and refresh to your clothes on the road. Also, toss in a some Sandal Wash in case the air conditioning goes out or your flip flops go on strike.

3) Bring. A. Map. Remember those paper things that you could never refold the same way twice? They still work. On a recent road trip to Central Idaho, no fewer than eight of us had our heads bent over our smartphones futilely searching Google Maps for an old Forest Service Road. Technology’s great. But getting off the beaten path will hopefully take you far away from a cell signal, too.

2) Buy a big, rubber box and create a car camping kit. Okay. This one may be a bit indulgent if you already have backpacking gear and a river kitchen and separate groupings of gear for every outing you enjoy. Trust us. This kit will pay for itself in usage days over a short period of time. Keep a checklist in the kit, so you don’t forget those little luxuries, like: gas for the stove, matches or toilet paper.

1) Stop at all the weird, wonderful places and “points of interest” that pique your fancy. You will never regret stopping at the Idaho Potato Museum or running down the hill where the Wright Brothers first took flight in North Carolina. Even if you’re not traveling with a toddler, listen to the kid inside of you who is joyfully looking out the window and wanting to jump into every experience with both feet, an open mind and a heart full of laughs.

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