Big Trips · Travel

8 Tips to Planning the Perfect Road Trip

Everyone loves that sense of freedom that comes with a car. You can go off on an adventure any time you like, all you need is a little bit of planning beforehand and you can enjoy one of the most memorable holiday experiences, the road trip!

Road trips are a brilliant way to make new memories, to see new places and things. Doesn’t matter if you are staying local for a few days or are going further afield by going across the country, there are a few things that you can do to make your trip better and more memorable for the right reasons.

The tips that you will read today will you help you experience less stress and fewer arguments (if travelling with others), plus they will help keep you safe and make sure you don’t miss out on anything!

1. Outline Your Itinerary

There’s so much more to just planning where you want to go. You need to figure out where to go, what you want to see and how long you will spend at each place. This is a hugely important point, otherwise you might end up rushing places or spending too long at others.

If you are planning on visiting multiple places (which people normally do when they go on a road trip), you don’t want to spend you entire time at the first stop, or end up rushing through important visits, or spending too much time at another less-important site.

You don’t need to have a plan for every single second that you are out on the road, but a general idea of what you want to see and do, and how much time you think each place will need will help you stay on track and not waste your time. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a bit of spontaneity though, and if the attraction of the site is better than you thought, then you might as well stay a little longer.

This is why you should also include a little bit of extra time for things. You might come across something which you didn’t see on the map before, or your might want to spend a little longer somewhere just because you like it more than you realise. Having a plan is good, but so is having that little bit of extra free time to truly explore the places you love at your leisure.

2. Pick the Road Less Travelled

Once you know where you want to go and the places you want to see. You need to choose your route carefully. Just because a motorway means going that much faster does not mean that it is the best option. Why is it not the best option? Because you’ll end up missing a lot.

This is why you should go for the road less travelled (if possible, depending on time and terrain). You’ll see so much more, be able to meet the locals, venture down paths you’d never even seen and explore the world in a new light.

On a similar note, take that detour! This is why having that little bit of extra time is really important. You might be driving along the road and see a sign for something that looks super interesting to you. You might never have realised it was there before, but now is the time to take that detour on your road trip and go explore.

Go follow that sign, now’s your chance. Spontaneity rules on road trips. Having a solid plan of places you want to see is important, but when the opportunity arises to see something new and exciting, you really got to go do it.

Pro Tip #1: It helps if you a rough idea of how long it takes to get to places. If you know that it will take you x hours to drive on a certain road, and you still have a few hours spare then you’ll have plenty of time to go exploring.

Pro Tip #2: Scenic routes are fun (and I do highly encourage them), but if it’s going to take you twelve hours to drive to somewhere that might have only taken two on another route, reconsider which route is best for you. Few people like spending all day in a car.

3. Who Will You Be Travelling With?

Knowing who you are travelling with is actually a really important part to having a successful road trip. The success or failure of a road trip often depends on how compatible you are with the person you are travelling with. People often don’t realise how important this is. But if you one of you likes driving in complete silence in order to concentrate and the other one likes to talk the whole way, it might not be fun for either of you!

It’s not just this you will have to worry about though, what if one of you wants to drive your destination as quickly as possible and the other wants to stop off at every town they see? This is why you need to know who you are travelling with, otherwise you might have some issues along the way.

Know who you are travelling with, how each person likes to travel and how you will make this road trip work. Most of the time you’ll be able to find a middle group if you do have some differences, but it’s important to know these first before you set off on your adventure.

Obviously, this is more something that you need to think about before your first road trip with someone. Once you find someone that you are happy to go on several road trips with and have no issues you won’t need to worry about this tip.

4. Consider Your Vehicle

When it comes to going on a long trip, there are some cars that just aren’t suited to this. If you are keen to have repeat long road trips in your life, then consider getting a convertible, sports car, any car with great mileage and minivans are all great when it comes to going on a trip.

You’ll want to make sure that your car has plenty of space in it as well, since you and your passengers will be spending several hours inside the vehicle. So comfort is key, particularly when making sure that you’re not all squished up with luggage and even pets (if you are bringing your dog with you for example).

If you are happy with the car that you have, then make sure to get it checked over before you embark on your road trip adventure. This involves getting your tyres checked, your oil changed, refilling your windshield wiper fluid and making sure that all your lights work before you leave.

Pro Tip #3: By getting your car checked by a mechanic before you leave for your road trip means that you will reduce the chance of being stranded or experiencing mechanical issues whilst you are in a new area and potentially in the middle of nowhere.

Pro Tip #4: Bugs, dirt and other debris can inhibit your vision. Wiper fluid levels should be full when you begin your trip!

5. Prepare Your Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle doesn’t just mean that you get it checked over by the mechanic, there are plenty of things that you can do before you go on your road trip that you can sort yourself. The first thing is cleaning your vehicle. Remove all rubbish. Clean the windows and mirrors. Hoover the carpet and wipe off the dash.

A clean car will make for a better journey (and when I say clean I mean inside and outside)! You should also aim to keep it clean whilst you are out on the road as well. When you stop for breaks, make sure to take those empty bottles and other rubbish and dispose of it properly.

It’s not just the cleaning of the car that’s important, but it’s also important that you stock your car up before you leave. This type of preparation means placing a spare blanket in the car, food, and an extra bottle of water in case you get stranded in the middle of nowhere.

It’s also a good idea to stock on things like a spare tyre that is fully inflated (if you have the space in your car, some smaller cars don’t unfortunately, but you might be able to have a space-saver wheel but this is only a temporary thing), a set of jumper cables might help, plus extra wiper fluid is always handy!

Pro Tip #5: Always prepare for the unexpected. It’s better to be overly prepared then to be stuck with nothing in the middle of nowhere on your road trip.

Pro Tip #6: Fill your car up the day before, nobody wants to stop for petrol thirty minutes into their journey. Time is precious when you’re on a road trip.

6. Start Early and Take Regular Breaks

There’s always something exciting about getting up early to start your trip. Even the people who aren’t early birds sometimes manage to wake up at four in the morning so that they are ready to leave early for their trip. There’s just that rush of excitement or something in the air that makes getting up early possible.

Of course, there are also many benefits to starting early on your road trip. You get to miss the traffic and can possible avoid the busy roads. You can get to your destination quicker, plus you won’t have to worry about driving in the dark since you can make the most of the daylight hours and will arrive at your destination before it’s dark.

If you leave super early and the sun is only starting to rise, you might feel safer driving in darker conditions at the start of your journey (e.g. when you are just leaving home), as these will be roads that you know. You don’t want to be driving in the dark on roads that you’ve never been on before.

You also don’t want to arrive at your destination in the dark as you’ll miss out on things whilst driving up to it. You won’t see what it looks like until the next day and that can be a bit of a waste really. If you know that you are driving a long way, then make sure you know how much time you need in order to arrive at your destination in the daylight.

You’ll need to plan your breaks in this time as well, and it’s super important that you take regular breaks whilst out on the road. You don’t want to be tired whilst driving as this could cause an accident and that is not something that you want to happen. So make sure you go to bed on time the night before and take regular breaks.

You’ll also want to make sure that you take regular breaks for food, drinks and also for going to the toilet. You don’t want to be stuck on the motorway and realise you got another twenty miles before the next service station. To stop this from happening make sure you plan your route before and check it on the map as well!

Pro Tip #7: Some experts have suggested taking a 15-20 minute break every two hours of driving!

7. Skip the Chain Restaurants

If you are going to places to truly experience them, then skip the chain restaurants. Eat the local grub at bistros and cafes, you’ll get to know the place a lot better, plus you could meet all the locals and they’ll be sure to tell you some great stories about the place and give you suggestions of where to explore.

This is one of the best ways to truly experience the flavour of the place and local community, so find a restaurant that isn’t part of a chain. You can even ask the locals where they recommend eating and they’ll be sure to give you a great suggestion! Locals are more likely to give an honest review, so trust them instead of any review you find online.

Of course, remember to trust your gut though and stay safe! You can go out of your comfort zone and experience new things but make sure to be sensible. If you don’t like the look of something, then go with your gut and avoid. Most of the time though, this really won’t be something you need to worry about. But it’s good to be sensible.

8. Remember to Have Fun!

Obviously, you need to make sure that you have everything all planned out. But remember, the whole point of going on a road trip is to have fun! You shouldn’t stress yourself out just because something hasn’t gone to plan. You can have little hiccups along the way and still have a brilliant time.

Remember the trip’s goal is to enjoy yourself, take in some beautiful scenery, learn new things, experience fun adventures, and make memories. The best way to really have fun on your trip is to find the perfect mix of preparation and sponaneity in order to have an awesome adventure!

You can play games in the car (whilst driving safely of course), create a great playlist to listen to, tell stories and enjoy the sights. This is your time to relax and have fun, not a time to stress because you’re ten minutes behind schedule. Besides you’ll probably find that the more times you go on a road trip the more fun each adventure becomes!

Do you have any tips for going on a road trip? How do you make long drives fun?

3 thoughts on “8 Tips to Planning the Perfect Road Trip

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