Summer is Road Trippin’ season. Whether you’re heading out for three days or three weeks, you’ll explore life and landscapes in a way that’s impossible when you’re flying over these same attractions. While a road trip can be the adventure of a lifetime, it can come with some avoidable perils…who doesn’t remember National Lampoon’s Vacation?
Have a Safe and Enjoyable Road Trip by Following These 8 Travel Tips:
1. Plan Ahead
Prior to setting off on your journey, do your homework. Use a website like RoadTrippers.com to plan your trip including places to stay or camp, restaurants, points of interest…even “weird things” you might encounter along your route. Also consider becoming a member of a road service provider like AAA in case you need roadside emergency services along the way. Better safe than sorry. To assure that you have credit card access, you should also contact your credit card provider to let them know you will be traveling. Have the post office hold your mail, discontinue newspaper delivery and ask neighbors to keep a watch on your home while you’re gone.
2. Clean and Service Your Car
At least a week before departure, take your vehicle in for a complete service. In case a repair is required, you’ll have time to take care of it before you leave. Clean your car, inside and out, and remove anything you won’t need on your trip (you know, like the old shoes, forgotten office files or raggedy towels clogging your trunk). You’ll feel better taking off in a shiny, organized vehicle.
3. Consider Renting a Vehicle
Don’t want to put the miles on your car? Wondering if your vehicle can handle a long trip? Think a roomy SUV might be a more comfortable way to travel? Shop around for available rental deals – you might be surprised at the affordability (and peace of mind) a rental car can offer. Check Kayak for best rates or check out Turo or GetAround peer-to-peer car sharing services. Thinking you need something larger? Outdoorsy rents RVs, Campers and Airstream trailers.
4. Pack Smart
As with any voyage, you probably need to bring less than you think. As far as clothing, keep it to a minimum or consider a color scheme with coordinating items. If you will be camping, you may want to use storage bins vs. suitcases. Organize your items so that it’s easy to get at the important things (like food, foul weather gear or emergency items). Packbands come in handy to hold rolled clothing or secure items in a trunk or rear cargo area. A roof rack, especially if you are traveling with maximum passengers or camping gear, can provide extra storage – just make sure it’s waterproof and items are securely tied down.
5. Have Emergency Supplies
On the road, you may find yourself in an emergency situation without nearby assistance. Make sure you have a first-aid kit, road flares, plenty of water and extra food (think non-perishables like protein bars, packages of nuts, raisins, trail mix, etc.). Here’s a helpful article from the DMV: How to Pack an Emergency Kit that gives a complete list of what you need on the road in case of emergencies. And while we are a nation of credit-card holders, be sure to always carry some cash…just in case.
Many hours on the road can pass more quickly if you’re traveling with entertainment (plus you might find it difficult to find a radio station in the middle of nowhere). For the adults, download music, podcasts or a book on tape. Traveling with kids? An iPad loaded with movies and games can keep the “Are we there yet??” comments to a minimum. You can play games like Highway Bingo, 20 Questions, I Spy, License Plate Bingo, etc. And don’t forget some fun when you arrive at your destination. I fondly remember a week-long family vacation when my mom wrapped an individual “prize” for each day of our trip – a book, a game, a toy. Fun for me to look forward to and probably an incentive towards better behavior!
7. Reservations and Tickets
Depending on where you’re headed, you may want to make some hotel or campground reservations. Popular destinations may book up far in advance. Likewise, if your itinerary includes stops at favorite tourist attractions or activities, check into purchasing advance tickets or making reservations. It would be a shame to travel all that way only to be turned away at the door.
8. Timing is Everything
Eat before you’re hungry; stop before you’re tired. While it may seem tempting to “get another 100 miles under your belt,” that plan might backfire. You’ll be tired when you finally stop and you may find it difficult to find a place to stay. The same goes for meals; preparing picnics for the road or stopping early for dinner could make the difference between a “hangry” trip and a happy trip.
Making the right decisions before and during your travels will go a long way to assuring that you have the best road trip experience possible. Follow these 8 Road Trip tips and you’re ready to roll!