How to Plan a Road Trip
If you are an adventure-seeker you should definitely experience a road trip. Planes, buses and trains are probably the first that come to your mind when you think of traveling, but have you ever considered using a car to reach your destination? No matter how exhausting it may seem, hitting the road with your family or friends promises a terrific adventure. We’re here to provide answers to any possible questions you might have as well as some tips on how to plan the perfect road trip!
It can be more economical. In general, renting a car is not cheap. But if you’re travelling with two or more friends, the expenses are split. It can be even cheaper if the car belongs to one of the travelers and is not rented.
You can take decisions on the spot. During a road trip you can be as spontaneous as you like, as long as the rest of the passengers agree with you, of course. Freedom is the main characteristic of a road trip.
You can move at your destination. Having a car is the best way to explore more areas around your destination.
You create your timetable. While on a road trip, you have the time and the freedom to explore as many places as you want. No flights or buses to catch; just you, your companions, and your car.
You avoid the tourist crowds. By traveling with your car, you have the opportunity to see places that are not so famous and cannot be easily reached by public transport. Get prepared to explore unique places away from the crowds.
Road trips give you the opportunity to spend quality time with your family and are an experience that will definitely bring you together. While on a road trip, you are the one in control over your trip, meaning that you are the one to decide where you will go and how. You can choose a destination that you’ve always wanted to visit and you can do it your way. This also means that you can change your plans any moment you like and it will still be exciting for the parents and their little ones. Traveling with family can be difficult and expensive but compared to flights or other means of traveling, road trips are the best solution to save money and, in my opinion, have more fun. You can always decide to make a shorter itinerary if you need to save money.
Family road trips are wonderful; however, there are people who prefer to go on an adventure with friends for many reasons. First of all, it’s economical. Everything is split evenly between the travelers and the trip can be impressively inexpensive. Another advantage is the fact that you can switch drivers regularly. This means that the main driver can rest and appreciate watching the sights by the window. Not to mention that you will all save a lot of money on hotel stays. We grow up and usually friendships are neglected. Taking a road trip with friends bonds people together and creates fun memories that will last forever. When traveling with family, you have to concern yourself with maintaining a certain order whereas while on road trip with friends you don’t have to worry about anything!
Each person has a certain travel style, whether it is your own family or good friends. Before you jump in the car and hit the road, make sure that you discuss and share with the rest of the travelers your expectations. It is better to clear these things beforehand so that no one will be frustrated during the trip.
It is important to take into consideration some matters that relate to the duration of the whole trip, resting hours or days, the budget that each one is willing to provide for the trip, the type of accommodation, whether you will eat at restaurants or bring food with you, as well as who is going to drive the car and whether he/she needs someone awake. Not everyone is on the same page, so be prepared to discuss and to compromise so that everyone is satisfied.
If you are travelling with family, make sure that you bring what is necessary in order to keep your kids occupied. Kids can draw, play tic-tac-toe and hangman or simply write things. Time will fly if you just give them a pencil and a paper so you can avoid offering them a device, such as tablet or phone, in order to manage fussiness. You can bring stuff for them to play with or come up with games that you know your kids will love.
Discuss with your companions how many days you have to travel and map out how you are getting to your destination. Do not choose the fastest route but prefer roads (not highways) that will offer you the best sights and attractions. There are a lot of apps that can help you plan your trip, such as:
Road-trippers: a service that provides Google-Maps directions and information about all the stops, attractions, services, and accommodations you will meet along the way. Road-trippers also helps you calculate fuel costs, time, and distance.
Maps.me: a mobile app for Android, iOS and BlackBerry that provides offline maps and GPS support. You can download beforehand all the information about the area that you are visiting and have them available while traveling without the need for an internet connection. Maps.me also offers the option of saving bookmarks so that you remember the places you would like to visit. The most important is that you can still search for places and specific addresses offline.
Despite having GPS in your smartphone, do not forget to bring with you a paper map. GPS services can sometimes be inaccurate and unreliable. Always have a back up in the event of an emergency.
Another thing that you should definitely consider before starting a road trip is the weather. Checking the weather beforehand can help you avoid hazardous roads by taking a different route than the one you were planning.
Keep your plans loose and do not set overly ambitious goals. The trip won’t be fun if you’re stressing too much about sticking to the plan. Driving 8 hours a day without making any stops to see attractions along the way will not be fun. You never know what interesting opportunities will arise along the way, so plan on a maximum of five or six hours per day for freedom into the route.
It is advisable to check your car once before you start your journey, no matter how reliable your car is. This is important for you and your passengers’ safety, and make sure you have all the proper tools you might need in the middle of the road, such as a spare tire, a tire inflater and sealer, jumper cables, and your car’s manual. It is better to deal with any problems before they even occur.
Being spontaneous, mainly when traveling with friends, is most of the times what makes the trip more enjoyable. However, it’s a good idea to have lodging reservations before you leave home (read:How to Make a Hotel Reservation). Road trips are tiring and it will be very frustrating trying at the last minute to find a place to spend the night.So, it is advisable to make reservations at the places you want to stop and do not forget to call each place a few days before you leave home in order to confirm your reservations.
Pack only what you need. As already mentioned before, you need to have in your car all the necessary tools for any car repairs. Your supplies should also include a first aid kit, multi-tool, flashlight, matches, water bottles, and flares or reflective triangle. Some extra things you will probably need are:
Paper towels and tissues
Spare change, especially for the tolls
Spare car key
Change of clothes
USB mobile device charger
Make sure that you pack your stuff as efficiently as you can and, of course, remember where you put everything. If you believe that you’ll need something from your bag, put it on the top of it for easy access. Only take what you think is necessary. And remember, the lighter you pack, the more gas you save.
To find out more on how to pack smart, read our article on Travel Packing: The What and The How.
To be honest, there’s no time that is perfect to hit the road for every person and every situation. However, here are some factors that you should take into consideration:
The traffic. Starting your journey very early in the morning is a good way to avoid rush-hour traffic. Waking up really so early can be hard, but it will save you from exhaustion and frustration.
The weather. You should definitely check the weather forecast before you leave home. It might turn out that starting your journey earlier or later than you were planning could save you from a storm or any other weather obstacle.
Who the passengers are. If it is a family road trip, it could be better if your trip begins late at night. This way, the small children can sleep through the night. However, this is not really helpful for sightseeing.
The duration of the trip. Take into consideration how long is the travel time in order to estimate the time that you will arrive on your destination. This is mostly important if you have to arrive at a hotel and you have to be there during a specific period of time.
Get ready for an unforgettable adventure for you and your friends or family. In order to avoid any unpleasant experiences, I advise you to devote as much time as you can on planning thoroughly your trip. Follow these tips and you’re ready to hit the road!
Before you panic now that your trip is over, read our article on how to adjust to home after travel and make the idea of returning back home easier!
Edited by Eleni Gkovedarou
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