With over 260,000 square miles, you can easily say that Texas is a ginormous state with lots to see and do. However, if you are not familiar with our state’s seasonal climate, terrain, or even language (See Texans Language Guide) then let me save you some time, money and from some very embarrassing moments.
Since I was 15 years old, I have taken my share of spontaneous road trips in all kinds of vehicles. I once traveled to Houston, Austin & San Antonio all within a 48-hour time period. And I did it all in a bright turquoise 1976 Chevy Impala with a horrendous oil leak. That was way back in the early 1990’s before cell phones or public WiFi. So, yes, you can say I have had lots of time to become skilled in the art of trippin’ over Texas.
How to hit the road in Texas
To start, you gotta make sure that your means of transportation is sufficient for your destination. For example, if you are planning on heading out from Dallas to Monahans Sandhills State Park, you will want to make sure that you have a few essential things to ensure you arrive safely. During the course of that estimated 380 mile drive, your vehicle could experience a flat tire (or tires), dead battery or run out of gas.
It is not uncommon for there to be 20-40 mile gap between service stations along the many major Texas highways. Having roadside assistance is highly recommended whether you are using your own vehicle or a rental. Just contact your auto insurance provider or agent and ask for details if you have that kind of coverage. Most auto insurance and rental vehicle services have mobile apps that provide quick access to stranded motorist requests.
Personally, I carry a can of fix-a-flat, a full-size spare tire (with changing kit), an all-in-one emergency hand crank flashlight, a set of jumper cables, gloves and a 2-gallon, spill-proof, gasoline container. Call me paranoid but when you’re a woman traveling solo you can never be too careful or over prepared. Waiting for roadside assistance can seem like a lifetime in the Texas heat. Oh, and don’t forget to keep a back-up battery device, for your electronics, fully charging while on any road trip.
This way you can charge your cell phone, tablet or other gadgets if you are ever in one of those “Oh my gosh” moments. That annoying, low battery signal always seems to happen when you are away from your vehicle or at a festival where there are no re-charging stations.
The weather in Texas changes faster than a city street light. One minute it can be sunny and hot, the next minute it can be cool and wet. Texas is the only state I know of that can experience a blizzard, drought, flood, hailstorm, tornado, thunderstorm, and hurricane all in the same day. And don’t even get me started on the earthquakes! Nevertheless, pay attention to what I am suggesting. A baseball cap, sunglasses and sunscreen are highly recommended.
There’s a legitimate reason why many Texans wear cowboy hats. It’s the brim of these kinds of hats that provide a 360 degree shadow of protection from the sun which can be pretty brutal here. If hats are not your thing then be prepared to find out what it’s like to be a real “Redneck”.
On the polar end of that circumstance, you will want to keep a light sweater or long sleeved flannel shirt in your travel bag or vehicle. I say this cause it could be the middle of Summer and 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside but when you walk into a restaurant or movie theater it could be 60 degrees. Now for true Texans, anything below 65 degrees is cold to us but if you want to avoid catching a cold be prepared for drastic temperature changes especially around Spring or Fall seasons. Speaking of colds, are you a seasonal allergy sufferer? No? Well you will be if you stay in Texas for any length of time. I have heard so many out of state and international tourists tell me that they have never had allergies as they reach in their pocket for their mini-tissue pack. Watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat…yeah, that’s called Hay Fever, a not so pleasant souvenir of visiting the Lone Star State.
But don’t worry, it’s manageable. You’ll just need to pack some non-drowsy, over the counter allergy medication for daytime use or speak to a pharmacist at any drug store and they can point you to the “allergy aisle.” While you’re there be sure to pick up a travel size first-aid kit. Those things can come in handy while out on the road.
You never know when a little rain cloud will form. Just as you are about to meet up with friends at an outdoor event – BAM! Here come the Texas sized water droplets, literally raining on your parade.
Flip-flops, or “Chanclas”, can be worn year round and come in handy when streets or sidewalks become flooded. There’s nothing worse than getting your socks and shoes wet so the best way to avoid that is not to wear any socks at all. Texas flash flooding is a common occurrence between March and September.
With all that water comes humidity and stagnant puddles of water. Such conditions create a breeding ground for nasty, blood-sucking mosquitos! I can’t help but envision these pesky little insects sucking the blood of numerous people with their hypodermic syringe like proboscis. Gross! So, protect yourself from the viruses those evil biters carry (Zika and West Nile).
Wear protective clothing or keep some mosquito repellent nearby.
A few other things I have learned to keep in my vehicle while out on the road have to do with food and drinks. Inside my cheap-o Styrofoam cooler I keep various sizes of sandwich bags, some aluminum foil, reusable bottles of water, trail mix, a little food storage container (for soup or perishable snacks), packaged plastic eating utensils complete with napkins and those little salt and pepper packets (compliments of local fast food joints).
I can’t count how many times I’ve tried out a new restaurant and ended up with lots of extra food that I could snack on later. The “to-go” food containers offered by restaurants are usually too bulky to fit in my cooler (or lodging fridge). That’s where the sandwich bags and foil can really be useful.
Just use common sense and pack accordingly as to how far you are traveling and how often. Either way, don’t forget to have some fun and take lots of selfies of your Texas journeys. Then SHARE those awesome pics with me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook.