There’s nothing quite like the freedom that comes with the open road. Nearly everyone in the US has dreamed about shaking loose from their responsibilities, filling up their gas tank, and going wherever the road takes them.
That might be a technique that works for some people. But for most, a great road trip involves a little bit more planning and care than that.
If you’re in the mood to plan a road trip, keep reading. We’ll give you our best road trip tips that will keep you going even when things take a wrong turn.
Don’t Rely on Google
We put this at the top of our list because it’s the most important tip that we could give you.
We live in the digital age. There’s almost nothing that you can’t get done on a cell phone. And for the most part, that involves navigation.
There’s nothing wrong with using your cell phone’s navigation tool. That’s what it’s there for! But when you start to rely on it, you can run into trouble.
This is especially true if you’re taking a trip to more remote parts of the country. Your data service won’t work everywhere.
You also run the risk of overusing your data and having your service provider turn it off or charge you exorbitant amounts for going over your limit.
Instead, get comfortable using a map. It might seem intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of map reading, you’ll never get lost again.
Invest in high-quality maps for the area that you’ll be traveling in. It’s also a good idea to find maps with fun tourist-like things to do. This will give you plenty of ideas for every area you visit and maybe even some places that you were unaware of.
Find Helpful Technology
While it’s not a good idea to rely on technology completely, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a few good tools at your disposal.
There are apps for virtually everything you could want while on a road trip. If you want a map application that’s made for taking a road trip, try Roadtrippers or Waze. Do you need to know where the cheapest gas is? GasBuddy has your back!
There are apps for finding the best prices on hotels and for creating road trip playlists. Do you need somewhere to park? Try this parking app!
Keep Your Car Clean
This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to let your car get messy when you’re on a road trip. Even if you’re not buying fast food with lots of extra garbage (keep reading for more on that particular faux pas) you’d be surprised by how quickly it all piles up.
A good rule of thumb is that every time someone needs to get out of the car, gather up the garbage and throw it out. Whoever stays behind should organize what’s left behind. Fold up blankets, wrap up uneaten snacks and put them in the cooler.
Maybe pack some air freshener too. People packed in cars like sardines tend to get a little stinky.
Pack Your Documents
Before you head out on your trip, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got all of your important documents with you. For one thing, you’ll want your license and registration, obviously. If you’ve got the room, the warranty information on your car is a good idea as well.
Do not forget your ID! If you have any emergency medical information, pack that too. If the unthinkable happens on the other side of the country, you want the first responders to have all of the information they need to ensure that you’re taken care of.
Consider Your Sleeping Situation
If you’re looking to get better acquainted with mother earth while you’re on your road trip, you’ll probably save a lot of money. If you’ve got the space to spare, pack the stuff in your car and set up shop at a campground and you’ll spend a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
If roughing it in the woods isn’t your thing, there’s nothing wrong with sleeping at a hotel. Just make sure you shop around (using those apps we mentioned!) and find the best deal for you. It’s a good idea to have a good idea of where you’ll be by the end of the day so you can call in advance.
Resist the Fast Food Urge
When you’re on the go, there’s something so appealing about stopping at a drive through and getting something to go. And once in a while, that’s not such a bad thing.
But if this fast food splurge becomes a habit, you can bet that you’ll find yourself with an empty wallet and an upset stomach in no time.
Fast food, while convenient, isn’t good for you. It’s going to drain your energy and make you feel sluggish, and when you’re in the mood for adventure, the last thing you want is something draining your energy.
It’s also expensive. Why spend $30 on a meal for four when you could spend that for enough supplies to feed everyone for a day?
Make it a point to stop at grocery stores and stock your cooler with snacks and meals that you can make quick and on the go. Sandwiches, nuts, and trail mixes are all good ideas to pack in a cooler.
If you wind up having to stop to eat somewhere, try to go to places that aren’t chain restaurants. You’ll be helping the local economy by eating at a mom and pop shop or a diner and you’ll get better acquainted with the town you’re in.
Wi-Fi When Possible
In order to make sure that you don’t drive your data usage through the roof, try to take advantage of free Wi-Fi every time you can. When you stop for food or gas, tap into the Wi-Fi to download your revamped Spotify playlist so you can use it off the web. There are also some apps that let you do something similar with maps.
But again, remember that technology fails sometimes! Keep that paper map with you.
Remember to Rest
It might be tempting to get behind the wheel and drive until your gas runs out, but you have to worry about fueling more than just your car.
Every few hours, take some time to get out of the car and stretch your legs. What’s the point of a road trip if you don’t stop every now and again to smell the flowers? Look into local lore, walk around the public library, take some pictures of some pretty mountains.
Whatever you do, keep it low key. You want to rest so you’re not exhausted every time you get behind the wheel.
Plan It Out
Before you get behind the wheel of your car, plan out a route you’re going to take. Think about the cities you want to visit and the things you want to do there. Do you have specific goals for this trip?
No matter what the purpose is, you’ll fare a lot better when you have a plan. Try to have a general time frame for when you’re going to be in a certain place. This makes reservations easier and, if you’re not a spontaneous person, will give you an extra piece of mind.
But Be Flexible
That said, it’s also important to be flexible.
Things happen. Cars break down and tires pop. You might come upon an accident in the middle of the road and get stuck in traffic for what feels like years.
Or you might fall in love with a place and want to spend some extra time there.
All of that’s okay! Sometimes, the best part of a road trip is when something unexpected happens. Maybe you get stuck in traffic and pull off the road only to meet some people in a similar situation to you!
Road Trip Tips for a Smooth Ride
Take a road trip is something everyone should be able to experience. America has so much beauty and scenery to offer. If you have a chance to explore our gorgeous nation, you need to take it!
While it might seem like a daunting task, road trips don’t have to be difficult. Just follow these road trip tips to make sure you’re fully prepared for anything that comes up.
To read more travel guides, check out our selection today! Happy travels!