Road Trip Tips Wander The Map

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!

Road Trip Tips Wander The Map

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!

Road Trip Tips Wander The Map

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!

Road Trip Tips Wander The Map

Do you have any other tips to add? Share with us in the comments below!

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Road Trip Tips Wander The Map

  • Hannah
    Posted at 19:21h, 22 September Reply

    Great list, we are on our #epicUSroadtrip right now, currently in Whistler, Canada. We are failing TERRIBLY at tip #10!!!
    Hannah recently posted…We Came Home… and Bought a MinivanMy Profile

  • Jennifer Ryder Joslin
    Posted at 01:17h, 27 September Reply

    These are very useful tips! We would love to do an epic cross country road trip in the States one day! I’m curious, what do you guys do for accommodation along the way?
    Jennifer Ryder Joslin recently posted…Road Trip Across the USA to Find a New HomeMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:16h, 13 October Reply

      Thanks! We did a mix of camping, hotels and staying with friends depending on where we were. Hope you get to do a cross country road trip one day–would be so fun!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Fall Hiking at Hallaway HillMy Profile

  • Mar
    Posted at 05:45h, 27 September Reply

    Good tips. I think the music is key because I found that radio stations are not even reachable in remote places (eg Ne Zealand). I was surprised not to see internet and google maps as the tips, they are key to me, but maybe I am too reliant on technology and constantly having to worry bout charging gadgets!
    Mar recently posted…Fabulous High Tea at The Plaza, New YorkMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:14h, 13 October Reply

      Thanks! Yeah, it’s always frustrating trying to get radio when you are in the middle of nowhere! And, that’s a great addition–can’t believe I forgot to include that on the list!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Fall Hiking at Hallaway HillMy Profile

  • Carol Colborn
    Posted at 12:52h, 27 September Reply

    I love road trips so I have learned about all these things, too! They make a road trip more enjoyable and trouble-free!

  • Alice Teacake
    Posted at 13:09h, 27 September Reply

    I’ve never been to America or road tripping but it’s my dream to do just this! I want to drive all the way to Las Vegas when I’m engaged to be married and have the ceremony there. Me, with my to-be husband, getting married by Elvis hehe. When the time finally comes, I’ll be prepared!
    Alice Teacake recently posted…Uncovering Green Island Prison TaiwanMy Profile

  • Trisha Velarmino
    Posted at 13:36h, 27 September Reply

    Wow, you survived living in that car! Is it easy to cross states in the US? We are planning to buy a trailer in Mexico and do the same up to Washington!
    Trisha Velarmino recently posted…Is it worth to quit school and travel the world?My Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:10h, 13 October Reply

      We were worried, but we did survive! Yeah, it’s easy to cross states–there are no formal borders, so other than the long distance you have to drive through some of the states, it’s no problem! Sounds like an exiting trip–hope it’s great!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Fall Hiking at Hallaway HillMy Profile

  • Meg Jerrard
    Posted at 18:56h, 27 September Reply

    Great guide Jenna – we’ve also been living out of our car for the last 6 months almost having driven up the West Coast of the US. I think the most underestimated tip is to have our car serviced and checked before you go – and also I would add not to overload your vehicle too much. We sold our home and left our rental each time we did a big 6 month roadtrip so everything we owned came with us. Were seriously worried there for a while that the car was too heavy to go!!

    Awesome tips 🙂
    Meg Jerrard recently posted…A List of Everything You Should Have in Your Travelers First Aid KitMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:08h, 13 October Reply

      Thanks, Meg! It sound like you guys had great road trip! That’s a good addition to the list–we were worried about overloading our car on the last trip–everything can add up quite a bit!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Fall Hiking at Hallaway HillMy Profile

  • Dave from Daves Travel Pages
    Posted at 02:55h, 28 September Reply

    A good playlist is vital to keep sane on the road! i also like to throw in the odd podcast and audio book for an hour or so a day.
    Dave from Daves Travel Pages recently posted…Nicopolis – Discover Greece With Dave’s Travel PagesMy Profile

  • Sophie
    Posted at 06:12h, 28 September Reply

    I definitely agree with the idea of making a plan but being flexible. I like to have the first day of the road trip planned and then if I meet someone on the way who says something is worth a stop then I take my time and head there. This is exactly what happened when I found ‘Valley of Fire’ which is one of my favourite discoveries in the US.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:05h, 13 October Reply

      Yeah, it’s such a great way to find out exciting stops! The Valley of Fire sounds like a lot of fun–would love to check it out sometime!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Fall Hiking at Hallaway HillMy Profile

  • Jeh-C
    Posted at 22:32h, 29 September Reply

    A well-stocked cooler always makes a road trip more enjoyable. I always keep some gravol and other meds in the car in case there is anyone that doesn’t travel well, it’s been very useful the last few times.
    Jeh-C recently posted…5 Reasons To Go To TomorrowWorld 2015My Profile

  • rebecca
    Posted at 00:13h, 23 October Reply

    Most certainly for the #7 and a good group of people! It’s certainly the people that make the trip!
    rebecca recently posted…Everything ends, that is what gives it meaningMy Profile

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