Road Trip 101 – Tips for Hitting the Road

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Road trips are something everybody should do at least once in their life. Driving for hours through beautiful landscapes, meeting people at camping sites and playing car games can be so much fun, but getting everything ready before hitting the road might be quite difficult. You’ll have to check the road, weather conditions, make sure you don’t forget anything important at home and, on top of that, fit all your luggage in the trunk. To make sure you don’t forget anything, below are some tips to ensure the trip of your dreams:

Plan Your Route

Knowing your destination is one thing, but deciding on the best route to get there and where to stop on the road is a whole different story. Sure, you might be thinking you will just hit the road and makes some stops along the way for food and sleep, but this doesn’t always go as planned. It’s best if you take some time and make a plan before you leave. It doesn’t have to be a strict itinerary. Take it more as a guidance and make sure you leave room for some unexpected stops along the way.

No matter how good of a planner you are, you won’t always be able to predict everything that is going to happen on the road. Some areas might be under construction, the weather can be unexpected and low you down or even some local events you don’t know about can force you to change the route on the go. Don’t let this affect you that much and try to make the most out of any situation. If you drive by a local attraction or even a fair, make a quick stop and take a look around, you never know when fun is just around the corner.  

When planning the road, you may be tempted to choose the fastest route to get from point A to point B, but staying out of the highways from time to time and enjoying the sights can mage a huge difference on your trip. Also, don’t exhaust yourself on the road by driving for more than 6-8 hours and make as many stops as necessary for your own safety.  

Make Reservations Ahead

When driving for so many hours a day, all you can think about is getting some good night sleep before hitting the road again. If you want to avoid searching for a vacant room at 10 PM, making reservations before leaving home is the best option. After having your route planned, go online and search for hotels, motels and even camp grounds where you can get some rest. In popular areas, accommodation may be harder to find, as rooms fill out even months in advance, so it’s best to have multiple options available. Once you made the reservations, make sure to call each place to confirm your arrival. Ask if they have a strict check-in or check-out policy, as your arriving hours might change depending on the road. You don’t want to lose your reservation because an unplanned stop made you arrive one hour late.

 

Plan a Realistic Budget

Although you will most certainly have some unplanned expenses along the way, making an approximate budget and trying to stick to it might help you a lot. Do some research and fine out the admission fees for the places you want to visit and for accommodation. When calculating gas costs, add a tank or two for unplanned events. Tollways should also be taken into consideration, as you don’t want to be spending your vacation money on fines.

Food costs may be a bit difficult to plan, but packing some snacks to have on the road will save you some good money. Avoid buying snacks and food from random gas stations, as they may be more expensive than in a grocery shop. Planning a daily food budget or setting price limits when eating in restaurants is another good option to keep track of expenses.

Check Your Vehicle

Since you will be spending so much time in the car, having it serviced before leaving is mandatory. There is nothing worse than having to spend half of your trip in a small town, waiting for car parts to arrive, so you can get your car fixed. Besides that, safety comes first and you don’t want to risk yours or the people around you. The vehicle check needs to include an oil change, battery and brake checks, tire pressure, lights check and fluid level check. Also, pay attention to the symptoms of your car and makes sure there are no other issues, besides the routine check. If your car has a strange vibration while driving or your brakes take more time to stop the car, you might need to change your shock absorbers. It’s best to get your car checked at least 1-2 weeks before leaving, to leave enough time in case some serious issues need to be taken care of. This way you can avoid having to delay your trip and lose reservations. Make sure your spare tire is functional. You never know when you’ll need it.

 

Start Packing

Your route is planned, your car is checked, reservations have been taken care of, now it’s time to start packing for the trip. The best way to ensure you won’t be missing anything is to make a list of everything you need. Start making the list at least one week before the packing day and check it daily to make sure you are not overlooking anything.

When packing, make sure you fill all suitcases and boxes to maximum capacity. This will save a lot of space and make stacking things on top of the others in the trunk much easier. Instead of randomly tossing things in the trunk, pack everything methodically and leave the things you may need access to last. Pack large items first and stack medium and small boxes on top of them, like a Tetris game.

Everybody has different needs and you know best what to pack for you and your family. You can find multiple packing checklists online and use them as a guide, but feel free to add your own items on it. Stock up on water and snacks for the road, to avoid getting thirsty or hungry in the middle of nowhere.

And last but not least, pack an emergency kit. This can be a backpack that contains a first aid kit, water, non-perishables, a blanket and a road hazard kit. It’d better to be prepared for any type of situation.