Caffeinated Travels: Planning a Last-Minute Road Trip to the Rockies

So you want to go on a road trip? Well, let me tell you, it isn’t as simple as it sounds…or so I thought. It’s super out-of-character for me to just up and leave for a weekend to a place I’ve never been, with no plan or budget to speak of. I’m normally a planner, an overthinker, a Type A to a T. I’m at my most comfortable when I’m armed with a strategy, weeks in advance, with everything going according to a plan.

My boyfriend has his own philosophy: Play everything by ear. No plan necessary.

This drives me absolutely nuts and probably causes 90% of our arguments, but at the same time, it’s the best thing for me, because he pulls me out of my fixed mindset and gives me the courage to do something spontaneous. And then it turns out to be easier than I thought.

Today, I’m sharing my own experience of going on a last-minute road trip, with some quick pointers at the end if you want to try it yourself!


Getting out of my comfort zone and into a 12-hour drive:

If I’m being honest, it was shockingly easy to just up and leave. Granted, I’m a college student right now, and it’s a lot more complicated to get away when you’re working a full-time job. Still, it was surprisingly doable. I told my professors and my supervisor at work that I needed to take a personal day off (we wanted to leave before the weekend started), and they completely understood.

Probably because I’m a stress case who is never, ever absent. Even when I’m sick. So. I’m guessing they were like, “Yes, please, for the love of God, give yourself that day off!”

Boyfriend and I got out some maps, figured out what was in driving distance, packed the car, and just…left. Just like that.

We had a few criteria when picking our destination:

  • It had to be an outdoor destination, so we looked for national parks
  • We wanted to go somewhere we’d never been
  • It couldn’t be expensive

We ultimately decided on Rocky Mountain National Park, a whopping 12 hours away.

I was freaked out.

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Figuring out what to do when we got there…

We knew nothing. Absolutely nothing. We went into the entire situation blind, except for the fact that Rocky Mountain National Park existed and it was open.

But that turned out to not be a problem. Once we got there, we stopped by the visitor station, and the ranger gave us recommendations for hikes to take.

And off we went.

Of course, hiking wasn’t my only goal. I couldn’t help stopping by the local coffee shops in Estes Park, the town at the park entrance.

But enough about me. It’s time to share what I learned, so you can take a last-minute road trip of your own!


So you want to go on a road trip…

When you decide on a last-minute getaway, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Use Priceline and/or similar websites to find the cheapest hotels.

We didn’t book hotels until we needed them. One day, when we were done hiking, we realized it was too cold to sleep in the car, so we Pricelined a Rodeway Inn that was five minutes from the park entrance. The deals you can find at the last minute are amazing. However, this also might depend on where you go and what season it is- we went during a less crowded time, so there was more hotel availability.

Find good podcasts to listen to.

A podcast will get you far. “Dirty John” got us all the way through Kansas. I’m normally skeptical about podcasts and audiobooks, since I have a horrible attention span when it comes to audio. I can’t sit still and just listen to something for an extended amount of time. But in a car, you’re sitting still anyways, so you might as well give it a try. And I was hooked.

Bring physical maps and trail guides.

Whether you travel to a city or a national park, you’ll need more than Google Maps. Partly because you don’t want your phone to die, and partly because Google Maps will not help you when you’re on a snowy mountain and you’re trying to stay on the path. Also, maps are fun. You feel like you’re exploring and getting somewhere instead of just checking an app to see how many more hours your drive will take.

Pack for every situation, but don’t overpack.

Bring layers, and make sure everything fits in a backpack and a duffel. Things like flannels, leggings, shorts, and more socks than you think you need because you’ll inevitably get lazy and not want to keep digging around to find a pair of socks. Colorado was weird because the Rockies were snowy and freezing, but then the city of Denver was a nice 65 degrees. I made the mistake of wearing my North Face jacket out to the clubs in downtown Denver on Halloween night…not my best fashion moment. Still had the best night, though.

Stop by a Wal-Mart for car snacks.

Car snacks are the best. THE BEST. And getting hangry on a road trip is no fun. Chowing down on trail mix and Cheez-its while binging episodes of Serial? Way fun. And speaking of fun…

Remember that the journey is the destination.

Half the fun should be the road trip, and this is a time to relax, reflect, and enjoy the moment you’re in.


Happy travels!

XO,

CC

A road map to your travel beauty bag

Do you ever daydream about getting in your car and running off to the mountains? Is this just me? Well, this week, I actually decided to go for it. I’m such a Type A personality that it’s super out of character to just up and leave, but sometimes, you just gotta get away, and this weekend was one of those times.

My boyfriend and I spontaneously decided to drive 12 hours to Rocky Mountain National Park…why? Because we’re going stir-crazy here in our college town and we literally picked a place on the map. Colorado, here we come!

Here’s the catch with last-minute road trips to the wilderness: Camping. Hiking. Limited access to showers. Which is great for a getaway, but not so great for a beauty-obsessed, sorta high-maintenance girlfriend. But I don’t let my boyfriend see me sweat (literally and figuratively), because I have my bag of beauty tricks. Which is just as important as the road map.

With dry shampoo, travel sizes and double-duty products, you can still look like a normal person even while living in a car or tent for a few days.

Scroll down for my must-have travel bag of mini beauty goodies!

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Kate Spade Scenic Route Tote Bag

For holding it all, of course.

DESTINATION: SKIN

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Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30

This is a newer product that takes care of a few things at once: SPF, moisturizer, and a bit of light coverage. When you’re on the road, heavy foundation isn’t a priority, but you’ll definitely want to protect yourself from the sun and dryness.

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Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Contour Concealer

You’ll probably need to cover up some serious undereye circles from the travel fatigue, but this product’s got you. Better yet, you can also use it to contour. BOOM. You’ve got a coverup and a highlighter in one. Bonus points: Apply it with the Double Duty Beauty Quickie Blending Sponge.

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Soap & Glory Clean On Me Creamy Clarifying Shower Gel

For when you’re using the communal shower in a campsite. This will wash all your germaphobe worries away. Plus, whenever I use it, the song “Lean On Me” pops into my head. Anyways. It’s great.

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First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser Mini

Don’t ditch skincare just because you’re ditching your regular life routine for a few days! This cleanser gets the job done: It removes dirt and makeup, moisturizes, and helps soothe redness.

DESTINATION: EYES

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Urban Decay Travel Size Original Eyeshadow Primer Potion

A favorite essential in the cutest, tiniest bottle I’ve ever seen. Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you should skip your shadow primer!

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Maybelline The City Mini Palette

With limited space for giant palettes, this mini one has all the essential colors in a small package. Stick to neutrals, and apply with your finger if you forget to pack brushes!

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Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint

Sometimes you need a quick eyeshadow boost on the go, and I keep these in my purse even when I’m not traveling. You never know when you’ll need to swipe on some drama. Also works great in bar bathrooms during a night out.

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Clinique Travel Size Chubby Lash Mascara

This one’s pretty straightforward: Just one of my favorite mascaras in a smaller size. But I also stock up on my mascara samples (like the free gifts with purchase) because they’re the perfect travel size. Next time you get a mini mascara, save it for the road trip!

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e.l.f. Eyebrow Kit

It’s a tiny, two-shade palette, but it works surprisingly well and fits nicely in your bag. Simple is best here. Road tripping it does not mean overdoing it when it comes to brow business.

DESTINATION: LIPS

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e.l.f. Tinted Lip Balm

The challenge here will be keeping your lips from drying out, especially if you’re flying or traveling to a dry area. Chapstick is a must, and the e.l.f. lip balm has the added bonus of adding color while moisturizing. And maybe the biggest bonus: It’s $1.99.

DESTINATION: HAIR

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Batiste Travel Size Dry Shampoo

Another classic in fun-sized form. Arguably the most important item on the list.

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Bumble and Bumble Travel Size Pret-A-Powder

Another great hair solution in a pinch– it’s a dry shampoo, but also a volumizer. I have such fine, thin hair that this is an absolute life-saver on the go.

 

And there you have it– your travel guide to travel beauty products! Do you have any must-have beauty products for when you’re on the go?

Happy travels!

XO,

CC