Just like any other trip, road trips require planning. Of course, you can live on the wild side and just wing the whole thing, but the perfect road trip, definitely involves some attention to detail. Whether you’re staying local or hitting the road on a cross the country trip, there are a few things you can do to improve your trip and make it more memorable! Here are some tips to planning the perfect road trip.
Figure out your destination/route
It’s important not to go too far on your first road trip. For example, if you’ve never driven more than one hour straight before, it’s probably not a good idea to embark on a road trip that’s going to require twenty hours of driving time. Essentially, keep it realistic! If this isn’t your first rodeo, decide where you’d like to go and how much time you have to allocate to this trip. A good rule of thumb is for every hour of driving, you should have two hours of down time, including rest — this equates to about eight hours of driving per day, maximum.
Determine your must-sees
For every route, there are some non-negotiable stops along the way. Time to figure out what those are! It’s better to research and plan these things out so you know exactly what you’re heading towards, rather than driving for countless hours in one stretch. This also gives us something to look forward to when the drive is getting long!
While road tripping solo isn’t necessarily the safest thing to do, it has been done many times. It can be very therapeutic to just pack up your car and drive! It’s important to figure out what the purpose of the trip is — are we trying to get somewhere ASAP with as little driving as possible (i.e. lots of passengers to rotate driving shifts)? Or is this an exploratory trip where the goal is to get lost and discover new places?
Budget and accommodation
Whether you’re traveling alone or with others, budget is another important factor. Depending on the budget you’ve set, this will greatly impact where you’re booking your accommodation. Are you car camping for this trip or hotel hopping? Maybe a mix of both depending on the stop? Make sure that you and your passengers have this conversation ahead of time so everyone is clear what to expect going forward.
Prepare your vehicle/documents
Obviously, it’s important to make sure that your vehicle and documentation are ready to go. This means a trip to the garage for a tune-up, a spare tire and making sure your car insurance is valid. If you’re deciding to go camping or visit National parks, look into purchasing any permits before you set out on the road.
Learn basic car maintenance
There’s nothing worse than being on your merry way, when all of a sudden, boom! Flat tire. If you don’t know how to change/repair a tire, check your fluids or jump start a car, it would be a good idea to learn these skills before hopping on any road trip.
Playlists and podcasts
Now comes the entertainment! Not only is fumbling with your phone while driving extremely dangerous, but it can also be a major vibe killer for a relaxing drive. Download a few playlists ahead of time, that way you always have something playing, regardless of radio/cell coverage. Go ahead and download a few podcasts or audio books while you’re at it. It’ll break up the monotony of music, and can help you be more focused while driving.
Snacks and self-care
Finally, self-care is super important while on a road trip. We tend to forget that we need to rest, to move our limbs and have proper nutrition! Although those fast food stops might be tempting and convenient, try to limit those kinds of meals. It’s better to occasionally stop at a grocery store and fuel your body properly. Fast food can make you feel bloated and drowsy, which are not the ideal physical state when driving. While you’re at it, get out of the car, walk around and stretch! Soak in the sun before hitting the road again. Remember that road trips are all about the journey, not the destination…
Written by: Sacha Vincent-Toskin