Gas prices are relatively lower, which is perfect timing for a season with endless opportunities for baseball games, music concerts, summer festivals and warm-weather getaways. Sure you could get fancy and book plane tickets, jetting off to these memory-making excursions. However, since bringing a grill on an aircraft is probably frowned upon by TSA (or really freaking expensive), it would likely mean abandoning your pledge to the parking lot party. To really be the tailgating host with the most, hit the open road and share your celebration with others across this great nation.
TRIPS TO TRY
GPS can guide the way from point A to point B, but road trips need a bit more planning to keep your journey on track. With 48 states within driving distance (not to mention our drivable border friends of Canada and Mexico), knowing where to go and what to see can be overwhelming. Before settling for a simpler staycation, use these ideas as a compass toward good times.
BE A FOLLOWER: Take a page from past Grateful Dead fans, and follow your favorite on-the-road baseball team or touring band. Your trek could take you across the country, or even just lead you around your state if you pick a minor league team or local artist.
CHECK OFF YOUR BUCKET LIST: If you’ve always dreamed of visiting all of the Major League Baseball stadiums, now’s your chance to cross a few off your list. Want to see the most in a short time? Choose California, which has five teams within its borders.
SELECT A CITY: Never been to Chicago? Always wanted to visit Boston? Pick a city that is new to you and make that your end destination. Online travel guides can help you plan your itinerary for when you arrive, not to mention, suggest unique places to stop along the way.
BE SPONTANEOUS: If time isn’t an issue, go where the road takes you. When you get stuck, flip a coin to decide if you should head north or south, take the highways or back roads, or visit the city or beach.
REUNITE: Have old friends or loved ones living far away? Tailgating is the perfect activity for any kind of reunion.
ROAD TRIP REQUIREMENTS
Unless your road biking has earned you the nickname “Quadzilla,” your first must-have is an automobile. The type and size of said vehicle really depend on how long you’ll be traveling, who’s tagging along and your Tetris-like packing skills. If you drive a two-door speck of a car or if your roadhog SUV will limit sightseeing to gas stations, consider renting a vehicle with plenty of cargo space, good fuel economy and high comfortability–after all, this will double as your dwelling for a while. Here’s how to make your home-away-from-home as livable as possible.
POWER FOR HOURS: Phones, tablets and laptops may mean endless supplies of music, movies, books and games, but that’s only if power doesn’t run out on the road. Car chargers can help, but for more battery boost, pack EnerPlex’s Generatr S100 to charge all electronics. At just six-square inches, it offers 94 WHr, and can be recharged with solar power (no outlets necessary) using the brand’s Commandr 20 flexible panels that soak up the sun then pack down slim.
EMERGENCY KIT: Flat tires, overheating and dead batteries can jam the brakes on your road trip. If you’re using your own vehicle, have a trusted mechanic complete a bumper-to-bumper inspection and make any fixes needed. You should also stow away an emergency car kit with things such as jumper cables, fuses, reflective signage, duct tape and a multitool. Gerber’s Multi-Plier 600 is a strong option for both in and out of the car, providing you with needlenose pliers, sharp knives, drivers, wire crimpers and for the tailgate, bottle and can openers.
AVOID HANGRY: Seeing someone you love get hungry can be a lot like a zombie-turning scene from The Walking Dead. A person who’s hangry— i.e., when hungry meets angry—is dangerous for a road trip and should be avoided at all cost. To do so, fill up insulated Tepui Expedition Series Day Packs with snacks and drinks. For the carnivores in the car, jerky is a must. Try a mixed bundle of Field Trip Jerky (beef or turkey) with flavors like Roasted Sesame, cracked Pepper, Honey Spice and Crushed Chilies.
SKIP THE STINK: Summer weather plus sitting in a car for long spans of time can equal stink. It’s simple science, people. To avoid being the bearer of BO, you need three essentials: soap, water and sandals. The soap and water should go without saying; the sandals are for when bathing has to happen in public showers or lakes. Since you don’t want to waste valuable gear space carrying a closet full of shoes, opt for versatile sandals like Chaco Z/ Cloud. Design your own to match your favorite team’s colors or pick a style that works with anything you wear. You can dip them in and out of the water, as they dry quick. Plus, the antimicrobial application for odor control means no smelly feet. Want even more antimicrobial stink protection? Pick skivvies from SmartWool’s PhD line, which manage sweat and control odor, and are super comfy.
BIG FOOTPRINT GEAR
Less is more on the open road, but some big gear needs to make its way to the tailgate, too. Here are a few we feel need some space:
GRILL: What’s a tailgate without a grill? Not a tailgate, that’s what. Yes, there are ways around having to tote along the hot box: catering, mooching off the tailgate one car over or using public grills at parks and beaches. However, a true Game Day Guru wants to put on the real deal. Opt for a traditional small-size portable grill, or choose a tailgating masterpiece from PK Grills. Manufactured by hand in cast aluminum and built to last, PK offers a charcoal grill and smoker in one that looks like a full-size grill, but packs down compact so it’s easy to transport.
COOLER: Keeping food and beverages cold might be one of the hardest parts of road trips, but this ORCA cooler gets the job done. The integrated insulation, for maximum ice/cold retention and freshness of your stowed items, keeps the cold in for up to 10 days. The ORCA 26-Quart Team Cooler has extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable solo or tandem portage. And keep your beverage ice-cold or piping hot with an ORCA Team Chaser. The double walled, vacuum-sealed body ensures your ice will stay frozen and not water down your drink.
TENT: If hotels and cabins are beyond your budget—or if you simply don’t want to worry about lodging vacancy on the go—take along a tent. You could go the route of a good-ole ground tent, but to take your outdoor experience to new heights, try the Kukenam Sky Roof Top Tent by Tepui. Set up on top of your vehicle, you can literally camp in a parking lot spot instead of driving around in search of a campground. If your vehicle has a roof rack, then this easy set-up/take-down option is ready to go. When you’re driving, keep the tent packed up above to gain extra space inside. Need a pillow to sleep on when resting on the roof? Eagle Creek’s Fast Inflate Pillow can help you save on space with that, too. It blows up in a few quick breaths and collapses fast into a tiny stuff sack.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
- PK Grills $369.99 | pkgrills.com
- ORCA 26-Quart Team Cooler $279.99 | shoporca.com
- ORCA Team Chaser $49.99 | shoporca.com
- Tepui Kukenam Sky Roof Top Tent $1350 | tepuitents.com
- Eagle Creek Fast Inflate Pillow $44.95 | eaglecreek.com
- EnerPlex Generatr S100 $349.99 | goenerplex.com
- EnerPlex Commandr 20 $299.99 | goenerplex.com
- Gerber Multi-Plier 600 $90 | gerbergear.com
- Tepui Expedition Series Day Packs $70 | tepuitents.com
- Field Trip Jerky $6.50 | fieldtripjerky.com
- Chaco Z|Cloud $110 | chacos.com
- SmartWool Sport Underwear and Sports Bras starting at $32 | smartwool.com
Miles have been logged. Selfies next to “World’s Biggest Fill-in-the-Blank” have been snapped. And every passenger is black and blue from copious callings of Slug Bug. That can only mean one thing: You’ve arrived! Stretch those legs and regain feeling in your backside. It’s time to tailgate!
BOTTOMS UP: After countless hours on the road, you deserve a drink. And not just any drink, but a drink that will remain cold without numbing your hand or leaving you soaked in can-side condensation. Skip the toss-away red plastic cup and go with the 20-oz. Avex Brew Pint Glass, which keeps your drink cold for up to four hours (though some might call that “nursing” a drink) with no wet hands. If you’re less about brews and more about booze, mix up a batch of your favorite concoction in the Avex 3SixtyPour Thermal Bottle. The stainless steel bottle with built in cup stays cold for 30 hours. And when it’s time for the sobering cup of caffeine the next morning, coffee stays hot for 16 hours. Like your liquor neat? Choose the Klean Kanteen 8-oz. Insulated Tumbler for your whiskey and bourbon, which stays cold for 10 hours iced, or hot for two hours.
GET COOKING: Lack of kitchen access doesn’t mean sacrificing your favorite game- or event-day recipes. While you’ll want to save super complicated fare for home, Gerber’s Freescape Camp Kitchen Kit allows you to show off your knife skills with chef appeal. The travel cutting board slides open to house a kitchen knife and paring knife, as well as space for antibacterial wipes. Knives dulling out? Keep them on point with the built-in sharpener.
LIGHT THE WAY: Take the tailgate into the night with the Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Scout Lantern, which will also keep your party free of pests—well, mosquitoes anyway. This power portable light creates a 15-foot by 15-foot zone of insect protection that lasts for hours.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
- Avex 20oz Brew Pint Glass $24.99 | avexoutdoor.com
- Avex 3SixtyPour Thermal Bottle $36.99 | avexoutdoor.com
- Klean Kanteen 8oz Insulated Tumbler $18 | kleankanteen.com
- Gerber Freescape Camp Kitchen Kit $88 | gerbergear.com
- Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Scout Lantern $39.99 | thermacell.com