It’s summertime, which means it’s the perfect opportunity for a road trip! Grab your bags, friends, family, and hit the road.
Road trips are a great way to get to know people, have an adventure and escape from reality. If you’re considering one this summer, you probably already thought about where to go, but there are additional steps to take before pulling out of the driveway.
Road trips are about freedom and fun, but don’t be reckless. Use these four tips to prepare, and turn your road trip into a memory you’ll never forget.
1. Make A Loose Plan
Road trips can go one of two ways:
- You have a set plan with a set destination.
- You grab a map or your favorite GPS system, a couple friends, and hit the highway.
No matter which type you decide to take, there should be a loose plan in place prior to departure. Too rigid of a plan can be stressful. Here are a few tips to begin planning:
- Create a start date and end date, but leave the rest open.
- Schedule stops you want to make, and research them.
- Be sure to check in with family members so they are aware of where you are.
- Ask locals the best places to eat—skip the fast food chains.
- Have a place to stay each night, or pack a tent.
Plan your road trip with flexibility for more freedom and less anxiety.
2. Prepare Your Car
The most important step before leaving for your trip is to make sure your car is safe. There are more ways your trip can go wrong than ways it can go right. Be prepared for any type of situation with the following:
- Bring a spare key. This simple tip might save you hours of delay or a couple hundred dollars. Keep a spare with another passenger—in a pocket that they are wearing.
- Conduct an overall checkup. Whether you do it yourself or you take your car to a garage, check wiper blades, fluid levels, belt and hose connection, tire pressure, turn signals, horn and headlights.
- Have spare parts and emergency kits. Bring a working spare tire, a tire iron, reflectors/flares and a first-aid kit. Emergencies and problems can happen. Be prepared for anything.
- Print out maps to assist your GPS. Don’t rely solely on your electronic GPS. In case it dies or you are out of range, have maps in the car. Read the maps before the trip to understand available routes.
3. Pack Accordingly
This will probably be the hardest part of your trip. When you have the entire car for a suitcase, your impulse is to bring everything. Lighten the load, and always remember: less is more. Limit yourself and your passengers to one bag per person, and enforce duffle bags only. (Duffle bags help maximize your trunk space.)
Pack a smaller bag to keep at your feet in the car. This might include items like sweatshirts, rain jackets, flip-flops, sunglasses, blankets and pillows. Stock a cooler with bottles of water and food. This will reduce the number of stops you have to make and keep cranky passengers fed. Here are some typical on-the-move munchies:
- Crackers and cookies.
- Peanut butter.
- Trail mix.
- Water and juice boxes.
If you need more assistance packing, here are our three favorite road trip checklists:
4. Entertain Your Passengers
“Are we there yet?”
Everybody can get bored on road trips. No matter what age your passengers are, have a plan to keep them entertained. Play a game, watch a movie, read a book. There are so many different ways that you can have fun and help time go by faster.
There are quite a few games you can play in the car:
- Create a trivia game.
- Start a scavenger hunt.
- Play the license plate game.
- A few traditional games.
Or, get creative and make up your own. The most important thing is to have fun! A road trip is all about travel and relaxation, and it isn’t measured by the mile markers, but by the memories you create!
Have any good road trip tips? Share with us in the comment section below.
Image Source: Zach Dischner under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic