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The summer is traditionally a time where families pack up their things and head out for a road trip. These kinds of trips can be a great way to connect with your kids and your other family members that come with you on the journey while seeing the sights and visiting fun locations. You will always create a lot of great memories when you head out on a road trip, many of them recorded in pictures and videos that are captured along the way.
The only downside to road tripping can be the planning stages. You will have a lot to consider as you craft the perfect vacation plan, and the more details that you are able to think of before you leave home, the less likely you will be to find that you have forgotten a crucial detail or left behind an essential item. Being able to plan your road trip carefully in advance will lead to a trip that is much more fun and much less stressful for everyone involved.
If you want to learn more about planning a road trip, read on!
Planning a Road Trip
These tips and tricks will help you to plan the perfect trip that is fun for everyone. There might still be challenges that come up as you travel, but you will have considered all of the major factors that contribute to a great road trip when you use this guide.
1. Clean the Car Before You Leave
There is nothing that will ruin a fun vacation faster than a dirty car. If you are sitting in dog hair, smelling old food smells, or uncomfortable due to junk that is in the backseat with you, you will not be comfortable during your trip. Being able to enjoy your car ride for that many hours is all about being able to enjoy the car just as much as the scenery going by outside the window.
Make sure that you vacuum, clean out items that are not needed, and replace broken parts that might impact your comfort before you take the car out for this trip.
2. Make Sure Your Vehicle is Working Right
The second consideration related to your vehicle is to make sure that your car is functioning properly. You will want to take care of engine repairs, replacement of worn-out parts, and any other service and maintenance items before you head out across the country. You do not want to be in the middle of nowhere when your car breaks down!
Make sure to think about things like air conditioning and heat as well as other interior comfort items. You might have new tires on your car, but a lack of AC when it is very hot out can ruin a trip just as fast as a flat tire!
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3. Check on Weather and Trip Conditions
It is always a good idea to check regularly on weather predictions and other kinds of natural disasters as you head across the country. Wildfires can shut down roads, and freak things like tornadoes can affect parts of the middle of the country. It is always wise to stay ahead of the weather and other kinds of natural disaster conditions before they cause you to end up in a less than ideal situation.
If you are taking your road trip during the colder part of the year, make sure that you have the chains and other items that you need to be safe on icy and snowy roads. You might have to plan a new route if you did not bring along these items.
4. Have a Plan
While you may not want to plan out every day of your trip to the last minute, you should have a loose estimate of your agenda as you head out. This can make it much easier for you to enjoy your trip and it will make it possible to plan fuel stops and overnights much more easily. You will find that there are enough challenges when you are on the road without having to create travel plans on the fly!
Planning can also make it easier to stay in touch with people at home who are caring for your house and pets, and it will make it apparent right away if something has gone wrong on your trip and your safety might be in question. There is no exchange for the peace of mind that comes with having a good travel plan before you head out on your trip.
5. Use Navigation
While many people don’t love to use navigation when they are driving on roads that they are familiar with, you will find that using navigation can help you to avoid accidental missed turns. You will also be warned about issues with road conditions and other potential travel problems like accidents that are causing issues with the highway or freeway that you are traveling on.
Navigation may not be needed to guide your route, but you will enjoy having advanced warning of problems along the way. You may be able to avoid getting caught in a traffic jam if you are using navigation and you will have better access to information about good places to find hotels and gas if you are in an area that you are not as familiar with.
6. Use Back Roads With Caution
It can be tempting to take the road less traveled so that you can see more of the country that you are driving through. Rural highways can be very beautiful and you might get to see a part of each state that you travel through that would not normally be visible from a major freeway.
The trouble with backroads, however, is that these roads are no longer used as main travel roads. This means that there are going to be fewer chances to stop for gas, rest, or other needs as you drive on these highways. You will get to take in a lot of great scenery but you might also find that you will have a hard time grabbing meals, getting gas, or getting help if you suffer a breakdown while on one of these lesser-traveled roads.
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7. Make Sure to Bring Charging Cables and a Power Supply
While road trips are meant to allow your family to unplug and see the sites, you will want to be sure that you do not forget the charging cables for necessary items like phones. You will need to have some means of calling for help if you suffer a breakdown and you do not want to have to try and find a phone charger while you are on the road.
There is nothing worse than assuming that you will be able to buy a device charger at a truck stop after you have left home, only to find that no one has the right item for your needs. You should make sure that you bring chargers for any devices that you think you will need for safety and security as you take your road trip. Add a power supply to your arsenal of devices in case your car suddenly stops allowing you to charge your phone or you run into issues with charging items that have suddenly decided to lose their ability to store battery.
8. Have a Roadside Rescue Plan
If you do not belong to something like AAA, you should consider getting a membership for roadside assistance before you head out on your trip. It can be tough to find anyone to help you with your car troubles if you are in the middle of the country and far away from a city. This is where roadside assistance plans shine.
There is nothing like knowing that you will not have to pay hundreds of dollars for a tow or that you can call someone out to change a flat if you need help. The peace of mind that comes with this service membership is well worth the upfront cost.
9. Make Sure to Take Opportunities For Rest
It can be tempting to press hard every day of your road trip to stay on your set schedule. The thing that is the most fun about road trips, however, is getting to see the sights. If you have discovered a small town that is a hidden gem and you feel called to stay for a day, do so!
You will have a very memorable and enjoyable trip if you take the time to enjoy yourself along the way and to take in the sights and experiences that present themselves as you are on your trip. Deviating from your travel plans can lead to days of peace and rest that will make the rest of your trip that much more enjoyable and memorable.
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10. Check Fuel Prices
This can be a big detraction to your road trip plans, and you need to be sure that you are aware of what the fuel prices are going to be along your planned route. You do not want to make a budget that does not allow for some variation in the cost of fuel and you can control part of this struggle by avoiding fueling up in locations that will cost much more than highway locations.
If fuel prices are significantly high countrywide for some reason, you may have to adjust your overall travel plans to help you stay on budget. Doing so before you head out can save you a lot of worry about money during your trip and make it possible to still have fun as you head out on your adventure.
11. Pack Light
Suitcases can take up a lot of space in your car and make it uncomfortable for people traveling in the backseat, and you will find that heavy bags will affect your fuel consumption. Make sure that everyone packs light and that you plan to make some laundry stops along the way during your trip.
Hotels often will do laundry for you for a fee, but it is just as easy in many cases to find a laundromat at one of your stops for the night.
You will find that packing light also allows you to pick up some souvenirs along the way that you would not otherwise have had room for. If someone who is coming with you is a notoriously heavy packer, make sure that you set limits for everyone to try and control the excess weight.
12. Drive the Speed Limit
It can be tough to tell what the speed limit is in some places that are well away from highways with clear signs, so you should always default to the standard limits for each type of road. There is nothing worse than getting a speeding ticket in a town that is miles and miles from your home, and you can avoid this by using some common sense about speed limits.
National standards are set for each kind of road in the US, and you can defer to these with reasonable confidence anytime that you are not sure what the speed limit is. Highways are 55 mph when in doubt and residential areas are 25mph. You will be glad that you did not speed through areas that might have set up speed traps and you will have more fun if you are not racing through picturesque settings too quickly anyway.
13. Bring Some Cash
You will want to be sure that you do bring some cash with you on your trip. While you should not open yourself up to issues with theft by having lots of cash on hand, keeping a bit of cash in the car with you is important. You will encounter toll roads and other locations along your route that might not take cards, and having some cash on hand can make your life much easier when you encounter these situations.
Make sure that you do not leave your cash in plain sight as you travel and keep the denominations of the bills you are holding small.
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14. Bring a Cooler With Health Snacks
While fast food can be yummy, you will probably find that you want to have some healthy snacks on hand as you drive. It can be hard to find healthy foods along the freeway, so having a small cooler with you that has some healthy foods in it can help you to feel good and travel with energy.
Bring along things like sandwich fixings and fruit and veggies, or just pack a few small items that you replenish from a grocery store at each stop if you are tight on space.
15. Consider Stopping at Roadside Attractions
There are many fun opportunities to stop for pictures and experiences scattered along most major highways in the US, and you should consider being willing to stop at some of these little tourist traps as you travel. See the world’s biggest hamster or take a moment to stop as scenic pullouts along the way to take pictures of the landscape and other beautiful sights.
You will find that some rural highways are littered with these little photo ops, and you might want to plan to drive on some of the roads in the US that are known for these opportunities.
Planning Your Road Trip Carefully Will Ensure a Fun Trip for All
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Planning your road trip carefully will take a lot of the stress off your shoulders as you travel and you will find that having considered the tips and tricks in this guide will make your road trip much more enjoyable. Road trips should be about bonding and making memories, not bickering or worrying!
Make sure that you think about most of the details of your road trip before you leave the house and you will have a fun and memorable vacation that allows you to create lasting memories.