Life is a journey, not a destination. A road trip embraces this idea for the opportunity to embark on an adventure that could literally take you anywhere. Admittedly, your budget and timeframe will likely limit your ability actually to travel anywhere. That’s why you need a plan. Although a road trip takes away the stress that comes with a tightly scheduled vacation, you still need careful preparation to allow you and your companions to sit back and enjoy the open road.
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Ready to Hit the Road?
While you may be eager to feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, you’re probably not ready to hit the road. Your vehicle needs some TLC before a long trip, and your home needs to be prepared for your absence. Besides that, your traveling companions may require some additional planning to ensure a safe trip for everyone involved. There’s a lot to consider before hitting the road, This guide can help you take care of everything before you leave, so you can enjoy your trip once it begins.
Traveling With Kids
While kids are pretty versatile, they’ll likely require a few additional necessities when spending hours on the road. Planning ahead can help you avoid unexpected messes, backseat fighting, and general boredom. Use these tips to plan accordingly before you begin an adventurous road trip with the kids.
- Pack Car Entertainment: If you’re going on a long trip, this likely means packing fully charged tablets, planning for road games, and maybe some headphones to keep everyone’s sanity intact.
- Fill up a Snack Pack: There’s no doubt the little ones will get hungry every time you pass a fast-food chain. Snacks can provide a distraction when kids get cranky and help you avoid stopping every hour or so for another meal.
- Plan for Motion Sickness: Long hours in the back seat can lead to messes no one wants to deal with. Preparing for these occurrences with bags and preventative medicines can help you avoid a messy trip. Ginger and peppermint food product are useful for curbing nausea.
- Plan Fun Stops: Since a road trip is about enjoying the journey, make sure the kids will actually enjoy the ride with some fun stops to break up the travel time.
Traveling With Pets
It’s not practical to take most pets for a long trip, but dogs can make great road companions. It’s essential to make sure your furry friend’s needs are met along the way. Pack these essentials when traveling with pets.
- Up-to-Date Dog Tags
- Collapsible Water Bowl
- A Leash for Potty Stops and Bags for Cleanup
- A Collapsible Crate for Hotels
- Plans for Your Pup’s Seating Arrangements and Stops for Exercise
Packing for Your Road Trip
A journey with a thousand pit stops along the way isn’t much of a journey at all. Packing for a road trip requires precision and a minimalist mentality. Use these tips to decide exactly how to pack your vehicle for your trip.
- Make a list to avoid packing everything you own.
- Pack things you won’t often use, first, in hard-to-reach areas.
- Designate a spot for everything so you don’t have to unpack the entire car every time you need something.
- Consider using duffel bags or storage totes instead of suitcases for packing.
- Prepare a daypack with toiletries, PJs, and a change of clothes for a night’s stay at Airbnb or hotels.
- Pack snacks based on the length of your trip and any dietary restrictions within your travel group.
Don’t Forget These Essentials
- Dramamine, ginger, or peppermint for motion sickness
- Reusable water bottles
- In-car charger
- First aid/emergency kit
- Cooking utensils
- Cleaning accessories
- Lastly, a spare car key
Before You Leave
How extensively you prepare your home for your absence depends on how long you’ll be gone. Additionally, there is much to do at home to ensure your trip goes smoothly. These tips can help you get ready for your trip and secure your home while you’re gone.
- Define your budget
- Create a loose plan for your trip
- Check available accommodations for overnight stays
- Research areas you plan to travel in to learn about local laws and regulations
- Purchase travel insurance
- Download travel apps
- Plan in-car entertainment like music and audiobooks
- Notify the bank of your plans to travel. (This can ensure you avoid a precautionary deactivation of your bank card.)
- Get out some cash
- Lastly, notify your neighbors of your trip
Preparing Your Car for a Road Trip
If you’re taking your personal vehicle for a road trip, you’ll need to make sure it’s prepared for a long journey. Use this car checklist for safe travels.
- Make sure you have the appropriate ownership documents, proof of car insurance, and registration for your vehicle
- Check tires for wear and correct air pressure
- Check the oil and have it changed if necessary
- Make sure you have plenty of washer fluid, and your wipers are in good shape
- Check the coolant level and top off if necessary
- Consider having your car serviced by a professional before a long trip
- Make sure all the lights and blinkers are working
- Check the condition of your spare tire and the tools used for changing tires
- Lastly, compare car rental prices if your car isn’t in proper condition for a long trip
Social Media Don’ts While on Vacation
Social media is a fun way to share your vacation joy with others. However, it can also put you in danger. Posting about your vacation plans provide burglars with a written schedule of when to plan a robbery and gives scammers the opportunity to steal your identity or change your plans. Don’t let social media ruin your vacation. Even if you’re the savviest social media user, it’s important to know what to avoid. When on vacation, don’t:
- Post specific dates about your trip
- Use social media to check into travel destinations or entertainment venues
- Post pictures of your vacation while you’re still traveling
- Post pictures of boarding passes, passports, or other travel documents
- Lastly, allow family and friends to tag you in travel-related posts
Plan a Safe Road Trip
A road trip is a great getaway, and proper planning makes it safer and more enjoyable for everyone involved. While you may be itching to get on the road, a breakdown or unexpected emergency can quickly drain your funds and derail your plans. Preparing for your trip is easier than navigating the difficulties that arise when you don’t plan ahead. Most importantly, planning your trip takes the guesswork out of your road trip and allows you to relax and have fun.
Best Apps and Websites for Planning a Road Trip
Planning a road trip can get complicated. You need to plan your route, find accommodations and dining, and find ways to stay within your budget. Luckily, there are a variety of websites and apps available to help you prepare for your trip and stay on track once you hit the road. Visit these apps and websites to decide which will help you prepare for your ultimate road trip.
Route Planning and Navigation
- Google Maps: Plan your trip with multiple stops.
- Waze: Plan your route, learn about road closures and traffic, and get traffic enforcement to help you avoid speeding tickets in areas you’re unaccustomed to.
- Get Your Guide: Find and book attractions and tours.
- With Locals: Book private tours and experiences worldwide.
Budgeting Your Trip
- Budget Your Trip: Calculating daily travel costs can be difficult when you’re not accustomed to the states or countries you travel to. Budget your trip provides average daily travel costs for thousands of cities and hundreds of countries worldwide. You can sign up and create a trip that works with your budget.
- Gas Buddy: Save money on gas by entering a location to find fuel prices in the area. It also includes a rewards program and an in-app payment feature.
- Skyscanner: If you need to travel to get to your road trip destination, Skyscanner can help you find cheap flights.
- Booking.com: Find the best prices for those nights you spend at a hotel.
- Expedia: Find inspiration, plan your trip, and book hotels.
- iOverlander: Find campsite costs.
- Finding Parking and Comparing Costs: Parkopedia, JustPark, Park Me Parking
Expect the Unexpected
- American Automobile Association (AAA): Roadside assistance for breakdowns
- Your Insurance App: Downloading your insurance app before you leave will allow you to have all your insurance information wherever you are.
Planning a Road Trip Frequently Asked Questions
How do I create my road trip budget?
Planning your road trip will help you create a budget and save for your trip. Remember to factor in major travel expenses (like flights if you’re going out of the country), rental car or personal car costs, gas, accommodations, parking, food, must-do activities, and unexpected opportunities. When you’re fine-tuning your budget, consider what you’re willing to sacrifice to keep costs down.
Can you save money by sleeping in the car?
Avoiding the costs of nightly accommodations can save money, but it’s not a great idea to do long-term. A good night’s sleep is important for your health, and it’s essential for safe driving when spending a lot of time on the road. Camping and spending an occasional night in the car can help you save and allow you the convenience to spend some nights in a comfortable bed.
How long can I drive in one day?
Generally, it’s not safe to drive more than eight hours a day. However, each driver is different, and your sleeping schedule will likely be outside what you’re used to. Pay attention to how you feel while driving and take breaks every couple of hours.
How do you pick a road trip destination?
Get together with your traveling companions and consider group hobbies and interests. Factor in your budget and timeframe. Make sure you’re not overdoing it when planning a road trip. The idea is to be open to the unexpected and have fun.
Do I need extra car insurance for a road trip?
Generally, minimum liability coverage is all that’s required, but traveling in different states on unfamiliar roads may prompt you to consider more coverage. . If you’re going on a long trip, you may want to consider adding uninsured motorist coverage, collision, and comprehensive coverage to take care of occurrences out of your control. Talk with your independent insurance agent about your travel plans to help determine the coverage you need.