8 Things to Remember When Planning a Road Trip
Your next road trip can be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that you’ll remember fondly for years. Or, it can turn out to be a disaster that’ll destroy your love for traveling by car – or traveling in general.
Which one is it going to be? That depends completely on you – to be precise, on your preparation efforts!
But unless you’re a seasoned road tripper, how do you know whether you’re well-prepared for the journey ahead? Don’t stress out: here are the eight most crucial things you should keep in mind. Feel free to use them as your guide!
1. Great Road Trips Take Time
To be flexible during your trip – and avoid hurrying or overcompensating, – you need enough time.
A three-day road trip may be great if you stay within a 100-mile radius of your starting point. But if you want to explore a country or discover a new region, you need more than that. One or two weeks is a bare minimum.
If that means taking extra vacation days or skipping some classes while EssayPro takes care of your homework, so be it! It’s all about your priorities. What’s more important to you: seeing the world or all those boring assignments and tasks?
2. Car Check Is a Must to Avoid Bad Surprises
Unless you plan to rent a car, take your time checking the vehicle’s condition before venturing on a 500- or 1,000-mile trip. You don’t want to have a tire suddenly blow up, right? Or, in a less dramatic scenario, you have no desire to spend an hour on a detour to find a store that sells wiper fluid, don’t you?
Not sure what exactly you should pay attention to? Here’s your basic checklist:
- Inspections – you should be up-to-date on them;
- Tire pressure – the optimal one depends on your car’s model and make;
- Oil and wiper fluid level – make sure there are no leaks, too;
- Mirrors and windows – clean them if needed.
3. Route Outline Is Important – But It’s Not Everything
How much route planning should you do beforehand? The answer is subjective: some. Sounds tricky, right?
There is such a thing as too much planning, that’s for sure. If every second of your trip is accounted for, you’ll have no time to make a spontaneous detour or stop to take in an amazing landscape. That can make the trip boring – if not stressful – fast.
So, it’s better to have a general outline with the main must-visit towns or sights on the list. Still, remain open to tweaking that outline when on the road. Plus, remember to plan for some extra unstructured time for wandering around or just having some downtime.
4. Breaks Are a Must for Driving Safely
When you calculate approximate driving time, you might be tempted to check what your preferred GPS app estimates and consider it done. But driving for five hours straight is a bad idea.
The key to enjoying a road trip is taking breaks from driving. If you’re the only one who’ll be in that seat, add 15-minute breaks for every hour or two of the trip. During those breaks, take your time to walk around and stretch your muscles. That’ll help counter the fatigue and sleepiness.
If you plan to go on a road trip with someone, stick to a buddy system. Agree that you drive for two hours, then your companion moves into the driver’s seat. That said, remember to take breaks regularly anyway!
5. Incompatible Companions Make for a Disaster
If you want to go on a road trip with someone, think hard about your compatibility with that person. Otherwise, you might turn out to have wildly different expectations, comfort levels, or habits.
That may spoil the whole trip. You don’t want to spend your days angry, irritated, or arguing, right?
How can you know if they’re going to be a great companion or not, though? It’s simple: involve them in the planning. This way, you’ll know how well your expectations and demands match. Plus, think about the time you’ve already spent with that person. Are you in sync?
6. No One Is 100% Protected from Emergencies
You probably have no desire to think about worst-case scenarios. You’d rather focus on visiting your dream destinations, right?
But the thing is, no matter how cautious you are, accidents can still happen, especially when you travel by car. They don’t have to be anything drastic – but you still should be prepared for them.
That’s why you should pack these nine items with you:
- Spare tire;
- First-aid kit;
- Safety vests;
- Jumper cables;
- Vehicle owner’s manual;
- Extra wiper fluid;
- Emergency cash.
If you go on a road trip abroad, here are three extra recommendations for you:
- Know the local emergency numbers and which one you should call in which cases;
- Learn some basics in the local language to ask for help;
- Know how the driving rules of your destination country differ from the ones you’re used to.
7. Reservations Are Best Made in Advance
Unless you want to sleep in a hammock under the stars Bear Grills-style, you’ll need to book a room in a hotel, hostel, inn, or motel – or find an Airbnb. This is why having a basic route outline is still a must. With it, you can make all of your reservations in advance.
There are two main reasons why it’s better to do this before you go on the road:
- You’ll be sure you’ll have a place to sleep. You don’t want to find out all accommodation at your destination is occupied on the day you arrive at the last minute, right?
- It’ll be cheaper (probably). Most reservations come with a discount if you book in advance.
8. Going Over Budget Is Completely Avoidable
No one wants to look at their bank account after a trip and have to decide which expenses to cut to bounce back. This can happen even to the best of the best. But here’s a big ‘but’: it’s 100% avoidable.
Here are eight quick tips on how to stay within your budget during a trip:
- Stay away from tourist areas for accommodation and food;
- Use an app with gas prices comparison to find the cheapest gas station(s) on your route;
- Cook your meals whenever you have a chance;
- Park outside of cities to save on parking costs – you can use public transport instead;
- Avoid shopping at gas stations – stock up on snacks and such in a supermarket beforehand;
- If you rent a car, return it to the same location to avoid extra charges;
- Take local roads instead of paid highways – the route will probably be more scenic, too;
- If you travel in a group, use a shared expense tracking app like Tricount.
If this is your first time preparing for a road trip, it might take a long while to figure out all the details. But don’t let yourself get overstressed about it! Remember: you can’t take everything into account; no human can. What matters more is how you handle whatever comes your way.
But wait, that’s not all! Before you leave this page, let’s cover five extra tips that haven’t made the cut – but are still essential for any traveler:
- Always have some cash on you – credit cards aren’t accepted everywhere;
- Consider taking a cooler for drinks and snacks – you won’t regret it;
- Prepare activities for keeping everyone (yourself included) entertained on the road – games, music, books, etc.;
- Check the weather forecast every day – awful weather can force you to come up with a plan B
- Avoid overpacking – take only what you can’t make do without.