22 Sep 10 Tips for a Successful Road Trip
This past summer, we’ve practically lived in our car. We have driven thousands of miles and covered much of the United States and Canada. Road trips are quickly becoming one of our favorite ways to travel, which is good because we have even more coming up soon!
The majority of our road trips have started from our home base of St. Paul, Minnesota—thankfully, we are pretty centrally located in the United States even if we are in the northern part of the country. Since April, we’ve driven to Florida and back, out to Montana and then up into Alberta, Canada, from Colorado to Utah to Arizona, and then one trip saw us make a huge circle through the East Coast, all the way to Nova Scotia and back. All of these trips have added up to over 16,000 miles!
With all the road trips we’ve been taking, we now have our routines down pat. What works for us is different than what will work for you, but here are 10 things to think about when you are planning your next road trip. Hopefully these tips help you get on the road and have fun doing it!
1. Make sure to set expectations and do a bit of planning before taking off
Have a little pow-wow with everyone before you leave—setting expectations is key to getting along with your fellow road trippers. Discuss things such as budget, how long you like to be in the car at one time, how far you want to drive each day, how many breaks you want to take, what types of stops you want to take, and even your eating habits and schedules. When everyone is on the same page, or at least aware of each others ideas, the trip will be more likely to go off without a hitch!
2. Divide and conquer tasks
Gather your road trip crew and divide and conquer the tasks for the road. Maybe one person is good at researching hotels, and someone else is better at navigating, and another is good with food. Splitting up the tasks makes certain that one person doesn’t get stuck with everything, and it gives everyone a chance to use their special skills.
3. Have a loose schedule, but make sure to stay flexible
Planning out your route and doing some research is definitely a good idea, but remember to be flexible. If you have a loose schedule, you can change your plans if you decide you want to make an extra stop or detour. It can also save you if you encounter some bad weather! One way to do this is by making flexible hotel reservations that can be cancelled without penalty, or maybe even wait to book a hotel until you decide you want to stop. Apps such as HotelsTonight are great for finding good deals at the last minute. Also, you never know when you will want a little break from the car—if you allow for flexibility you won’t feel chained to your seat!
4. Get your car inspected and serviced before you leave
Don’t forget this important step! You wouldn’t want to head out on the road only to find out you are stuck with a broken down car. Sure, problems can still arise, but at least they aren’t things you could have fixed before you left. Also, depending on how long you are gone and how far you are driving, don’t forget to get your oil changed and your car inspected along the way, as well!
5. Plan fun stops along the way
Planning fun stops along your route can really break up a long and monotonous drive. Whether it’s cheesy roadside attractions, national parks or fun cities, finding something of interest along your route makes everything much more fun.
6. Pack a cooler and snacks
Eating out for every meal gets tiring, expensive and unhealthy. Plus, when you do eat at a restaurant, it is a special treat and much more exciting! Pack some of your favorite snacks, and make sure to include at least a few healthier options, as well such as trail mix, granola bars or fruit. In your cooler, make sure to stock a few things to drink and anything for your meals that needs to stay cold. Meat and cheese is one of the easiest things to eat on the road, either for a snack or in sandwich form!
7. Stock up on music
Music is definitely a strong component of any road trip! Sign up for Pandora or Spotify, create a digital playlist, crank up the radio and find new stations in every destination, or go old school and make a mixed CD!
8. Bring other forms of entertainment along
Having something other than conversation and music for entertainment is a good idea. Sometimes you just need a break from your car mates! Bring along some books or magazines, listen to comedy or podcasts, do some work if you have to, or even make up some of your own games!
9. Bring along some cash for tolls, change for meters and a bit extra for unexpected issues
We normally don’t keep very much cash on us, and it has gotten us in trouble in the past. It’s even worse on a road trip when you need money to pass through a toll or need cash for a place to park. You never know what you will run into, so it’s always smart to have some extra cash in small bills, just in case.
10. Keep your car organized and clean
Nothing is worse than a messy and smelly car, especially when you are spending so much time in it. Putting on the miles can really do a number on your car, so keep a spare bag for garbage and clean it out periodically. You won’t regret it! Also, try to keep your luggage organized, as well—if you have your overnight bag easily accessible it will make unloading at your hotel that much easier after a long day of driving!
But, most of all, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the open road!
Do you have any other tips to add? Share with us in the comments below!