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How to plan the perfect road trip


With all this planning, making sure that everything is up to snuff, it’s very easy to forget the most important part of taking a road trip - enjoying yourself. If you feel that the planning you’re doing is sucking the fun out of a road trip, take it down a notch.

Road trips are a perfect way of getting away from the noise of your daily life and relax. You can just pack up your car, grab your loved ones, and off you go. 

One great thing about road trips is that you can go 10 miles away from your home, or 1000 miles - it’s all up to you. As much as road trips are often spontaneous, there is still some planning that has to be done. Here are a few tips that can help you with this task. 

Check your vehicle
There’s nothing worse than planning a road trip, gathering your friends and family, only to break down 5 miles up the road. Naturally, the best way to prevent situations like these is to properly maintain your vehicle at all times. Follow the recommended service instructions and your car will generally treat you well. With that said, it’s always a good idea to do a ‘pre-flight’ vehicle check if you plan on driving long distances to reach your destination. Check the tires, fluids, and make sure that all of the systems work as they should. 

Always leave room in your itinerary
The whole point of a road trip is to relax and have fun. By creating an itinerary where every minute of your time is planned out, you’re essentially turning the road trip into a chore. Not only is that not fun, but it is rarely practical. Instead, you should always leave enough buffer between points of interest along your route. We recommend following this advice on how to make a solid itinerary for your road trip. If this is done properly, you’ll have more peace of mind whenever you’re traveling.

Have an itinerary 
Planning a road trip is a matter of personal preference. Everyone has their own way of doing this. Some like to improvise more than others, but almost everyone who frequently goes on road trips will tell you that an itinerary is a must. 

Having a rough plan of where you’re going, what you need to see, what you need to bring, and when you need to get there makes life easier. With this information readily available, you can estimate how much time you got left for whatever activities or locations you find interesting along the way. 

Without a clear itinerary, even a basic one, your spontaneous road trip can turn into a race against time to reach your destination and see everything you’ve wanted to see. 

Make sure to account for frequent rests 
Aside from unexpected stops to visit places along the way, your plan should account for frequent rest stops. This is especially important when you’re heading off to a place that is a few hundred miles away. The idea is to stop every two hours to take a 15-minute break.  Stopping to stretch your legs and get a snack is a great way of reducing fatigue and keeping the wooziness at bay. Just remember not to overeat or eat heavy food while you’re driving. Doing so will achieve the opposite effect. 

Photo by Avinash Patel from Pexels

Sort out entertainment before you go
No matter how close you are to the people you’re traveling with, there is only so much you can talk about to kill boredom during a long road trip. Because of that, it’s a good idea to talk with your passengers and figure out what kind of entertainment will work for everyone. 

In-car entertainment should solve boredom but not be too distracting for the driver. Talk with your group and find out what kind of music everyone likes. Alternatively, you can define a common interest and then find a podcast that covers such a subject. 

If all else fails, there are always the most popular classic road trip games everyone knows. Activities such as naming the tune, or playing the license plate game can definitely keep things interesting, although such games should really be considered the last resort. 

Pack light and pack smart 
Packing your car for a road trip should be done ahead of time, preferably the night before you head out. That being said, how you pack matters as well. Here are some of the tips and pointers that will help you pack more efficiently: 

  • Pack light - You’re going on a road trip, not a 3-week expedition. Bring only the essentials and don’t fall victim to unnecessary luggage.
  • Make the essentials easily accessible - Whenever you pack for a road trip, you’ll have items that you’ll use only when you reach your destination, but also items you’ll reach out for during the trip. Make sure that the stuff you’ll need frequently is easily accessible. 
  • Leave enough room for everyone - Depending on how many people are joining you on a road trip and the size of your car, there is a small chance that you’ll run into space issues. Make sure that everyone has enough storage room in the car to pack their thing, but do remind them to only pack the essentials. 

Stay frugal through planning 
If you’re on a budget or simply looking to cut down your expenses on this road trip, you’ll need to do your research. You probably already know where the cheapest gas around is located. By heading over to the gas station the night before and filling a full tank of gas, you could save a few bucks. 

Similarly, you can cut down on your expenses by preparing and packing food for everyone. The cost of snack prepping is magnitudes lower than stopping to eat at various fast food places or restaurants along the way. 

Enjoy yourself
With all this planning, making sure that everything is up to snuff, it’s very easy to forget the most important part of taking a road trip - enjoying yourself. If you feel that the planning you’re doing is sucking the fun out of a road trip, take it down a notch. 

The whole idea of heading out and visiting places with your loved ones is to have fun. Take that core element out of the equation and you’re far better off staying at home and enjoying a quiet evening with your favorite hobbies.

Main photo by Tom Verdoot from Pexels

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