Mike and I have taken a variety of road trips over the last 10 years. From moving from Minnesota to Rhode Island, from Rhode Island to Florida, a 2-week tour of the South of France, and a week road-trip through Alaska, we’ve learned a few things about getting ready to hit the road.
Whether you’re headed out-of-town to the lake house or planning an epic family vacation across the U.S., here are my best road trip tips for an adventurous, well-planned, and unforgettable trip.
SET THE EXPECTATIONS
When you first start planning it’s a good idea to let everyone weigh in and set the expectations for the trip.
- Do you plan on making stops along the way or are you on the fast track to the destination?
- Who’s driving? Will it be divided by hours, days, or when someone gets tired?
- How will gas be split?
- Will you stay in hostels, hotels, or apartment rentals? Do you need to make reservations ahead of time?
- Will you stop for food in restaurants or bring snacks and meals with you?
- Does the driver mind if everyone sleeps or should a passenger be awake?
- Are spontaneous stops okay or is there a schedule to stick to?
- What’s the budget?
RESEARCH & PLAN
- Consider the time of day you’ll be driving through busy cities. There’s nothing worse than being held up by heavy traffic. (Waze traffic app is a good resource to use when driving through large cities)
- Figure out where you’ll take the scenic route and when it’s best to hit the freeway
- Determine how many hours you want to drive in a day and where you will be staying each night
- Make reservations
- It can be fun to map out goofy things along the way (i.e. the worlds largest ball of twine)
- Although you’ve planned the route ahead of time, be open and flexible for a change of plans
- Consider joining AAA for roadside assistance
BEFORE YOU GO
- Make sure your car is ready (clean the car, do your check-ups, change the oil and/or tires)
- Pack the night before you leave. Make sure it’s not too overloaded and you can see out the back window
- If there are things you’ll need during the drive, put them in a place that is easy to access
- Download podcasts, e-books, and music playlists
- Pick-up snacks
- License and registration
- Car manual
- Spare tire
- Jumper Cable
- Spare car key
- Cash for tolls
- A real map and sharpie (it’s fun to draw your route and make notes and comments as you go along!)
- Podcasts, music, and books on tape
- Notebook and pen
- iPhone charger
- Wireless headset for your cell phone
- Cooler if you’re camping or hitting up the beach
- Febreze car air freshener
What are your best road trip tips? I’d love to hear!