Summer is just around the corner, and what better time to plan a road trip is there? Cruising with your friends with the music up and the windows down sound like the perfect vaca, but there’s quite a bit of planning to be had if you’re going to pull it off successfully and with as little drama as possible. Don’t skimp on the details and you’ll be sure to have a blast.
1. Save Up Beforehand
Road trips aren’t cheap. Just because you’re not flying around to your destinations doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious investment. There’s the price of gas, food, hotel stays, any trinkets or fun gifts you’d like to get along the way, admission to any attractions or fun stops you come by, not to mention some extra set aside for an emergency fund if anything should happen to you or your car on the trip. Make sure to plan accordingly and calculate your costs beforehand so you can save up.
2. Tune Up Your Car
Even newer cars can run into trouble on long-distance trips. When was the last time you got an oil change or a tire rotation? What about checking your tire’s air pressure, or figuring out what that weird clunking noise when you speed over 70 is? You don’t want to have any of those questions or what-ifs hanging over your head when you’re hundreds or thousands of miles down the road in unfamiliar territory. Get your car topped off and given the all-clear by a professional before you ever set out.
3. Map Your Route
There’s an element of whimsy and surprise when you go on road trips. You can go anywhere! While this is true, it’s best to have at least a rough idea of where you’re headed and the places you’d like to stop along the way. Apps and sites like Roadtrippers or Furkot can help you plan your entire journey, including stops for sightseeing, attractions, hotels, and more. Don’t be afraid to add some last-minute detours, but always know where you’re ending up, too!
4. Plan Out Gas Stops
In addition to jampacking your route with food and fun, you’ll want to have an idea of how often you’ll need gas. How much gas does your car’s tank hold, and how many miles per gallon do you average? You do not want to end up stranded on the side of a highway, so plan accordingly and always pull off to gas up before your needle is pointing too close to Empty. Many mobile map services and road trip planners can help you find gas stations along your route, so utilize them!
5. Plan Places to Stay
Deciding where to sleep for the night at the last minute can be a hassle at best, and sketchy or even dangerous at worst. Don’t simply assume that if you drive past another exit, there will be another place to stay in another 20 miles or so. There are stretches of road where there is nothing for over a hundred miles, and that’s no joke when you’re tired and needing rest! Not only that, but you don’t want to find yourself in a seedy shack motel that looks like the scene of a B-rated horror film just because you didn’t plan ahead.
6. Don’t Forget Your Pet
Bringing your favorite fluffy companion along? Dogs, in particular, can do great on road trips, but you have to remember to plan accordingly for their presence. Make sure you plan to stop frequently for potty and water breaks and remember that not all attractions, rest areas, restaurants, and hotels are pet-friendly. When you’re planning your route, do your homework to ensure your pooch won’t be turned away at the door.
7. Entertain Yourselves
Setting out on an adventure is exciting, but the adrenaline and fun will eventually give way to the monotony and tediousness of the open road. Radio stations repeat the same old songs, the nothingness of the highway seems to stretch on forever, and you can find yourself getting bored and cranky pretty quickly. Make sure you’re prepared to entertain yourself! Bring plenty of your own music mixes, have your friends bring some books of Mad Libs or funny conversation starters, and don’t knock the classic car games like Fortunately/Unfortunately or license plate hunting.