If you love to travel but don’t want to spend the money on airfare and resort lodging, then a road trip is the perfect option for you! Taking your friends and family in your trustworthy car or recreational vehicle around the country is a great opportunity to bond and see the great sites of America. Take time to read the rest of this blog to become a road trip expert and learn any tips or tricks that will make your experience easy and fun.
Planning and Preparation
Before embarking on a road trip, there is some essential planning and preparing to conquer in advance. While a road trip and vacation should be relaxing, a little bit of structure can create a smooth ride from beginning to end. First, you need to have an idea of what destinations you want to hit, such as specific landmarks, states, or activities. That way you can map out the most efficient way to reach all the places by a certain date, but it doesn’t mean you have to stick to a strict schedule. On road trips you have to expect the unexpected speed bumps, like a flat tire or rain delay, and give your schedule time for that. When planning, make a loose schedule of days and times you would ideally target for, and make sure destinations are still open during neighboring days in case things get pushed back.
It’s also recommended that a budget is made before leaving so that the best decisions are being made while purchasing food, booking hotels, and buying memorabilia. Look into average costs for the type of road trip you’re doing, then focus on finding cheap lodging through a hotel finding site. If you’re not confident in being on schedule, make sure only book hotels with cheap cancellation fees and look for backup options if there are no rooms available the day you arrive. Remember that a road trip is all about the fun memories, so don’t pour a ton of money into a place you’ll only be in for the night. Another large cost is gas, something you won’t be able to live without. There isn’t much you can do about the cost but investing in a gas card may save a few dollars here and there. Also make sure to map out where gas stations are if you will be driving in rural areas with long, desolate roads.
Maintenance and Safety
Another must-do before leaving for your trip is checking on the maintenance of your vehicle. Create a checklist of things to look at before you go, such as oil, tires, windshield, and brakes. This can prevent any breakdowns or popped tires on your trip and save you money on unforeseeable issues. If you’re choosing to drive an RV or tow a camper, make sure all licenses are accounted for and up to date, and check the maintenance of those vehicles as well. Some other preparation tasks to be done before leaving is to put together a road trip first-aid kit. This may be different than the regular kit you would put together for home, because it’s important to include items for unexpected on the road problems. Make sure your first aid kit includes the basic band aids, tape, and gauze, but also pack for emergencies particular to the season you’re driving in. If this is a winter trip, blankets and clothes are a must for being stranded in the snow. Perhaps a road flare, snow shovel, and tire chains to signal for help and get out of an unforeseen ditch. In all seasons, extra food and water, and a flashlight are other safety essentials to get through a rough patch in the trip.
On the Road
Once you’re on the road, hopefully all of the planning and preparation makes your road trip a successful and easy-going journey. It’s time for the fun part as you trek through your destination points and excursions. If you budgeted for it, and left enough room in your suitcase, one of the best ways to make your vacation memorable for years to come is to collect souvenirs. A comfy t-shirt, hat, or collectible to take home will bring back the memories of the road trip with friends or family. Another must-do while on the road is take pictures! Whether it’s on your cellphone, disposable, or digital camera, pictures are worth so much. You’ll love looking back on your trip and remember the different adventures you went on. Don’t limit the pictures to the extractions or destinations, try to snap some shots from inside the car, since you’ll be there for the bulk of the trip!
If you’re having trouble thinking of the perfect trip in the United States, then this next section will give you a short rundown of some of the top road trips in the country. A particular favorite of mine is the Pacific Coast Highway trip that spans the length of California. It’s a scenic, ocean-view drive that passes through San Francisco, Monterey, and Los Angeles. Without stopping, this trip only takes ten hours, but to give the best experience, planning out a 5-7 day itinerary won’t disappoint. Some eastern Californian stops to also consider along the way are the Redwoods and Lake Tahoe, for some great pictures and hiking trails.
Another popular American road trip is to the Grand Canyon. It has great views, hikes, and is a staple for any true adventuring road tripper. While it depends where you are coming from, it’s a good idea to stop by other locations along the way. Las Vegas is a short distance from the canyon and a tourist hot-spot, to perhaps take a break from driving and dabble in some gambling or shows. Yellowstone National Park is north of the Grand Canyon, another place to consider while on the road. As for the East Coast of the U.S., there are plenty of historical highways and coastal highways that allow for you and your travel buddies to experience city life and monumental history and attractions.