Road trips have increasingly become the most preferred mode of travel in the U.S and across the world today. The average American has no problem spending an extra eight to ten hours on the road to their destination if it means they can avoid flight delays, cramped seats in a plane, and going through security at the airport.
According to a 2019 study, 73 percent of American travelers prefer road tripping because it allows them the freedom to make stops whenever they want and park whatever they want during the trip. And with the global pandemic, more travelers perceive road trips as a much safer way to vacation.
If you get a familiar pang of fear and uneasiness whenever you think of air travel— and are always warming up to the idea of road-tripping—you’re not alone. From the jungles and black sand beaches along Hana Highway to endless views of the ocean on the Pacific Coast Highway to the ultimate excursion for history along Route 66, there are seemingly endless options to take for your Great American Road Trip.
Whether you’re taking a cross-country road trip through the United States in an RV or simply hitting the road with your personal car for a couple of hours, the following tips will help make your trip safer, memorable, and more enjoyable.
Get Your Vehicle Checked-in Advance
It’s not uncommon for travelers to focus all their attention on planning activities, booking accommodations, and choosing destinations that they forget to prepare the vehicle they’re supposed to use for the road trip.
According to County Line Chiropractic, a Lauderhill car accident doctor, skipping this step could result in serious accidents during longer vehicle journeys. No matter the destination or number of people you’re traveling with, it’s crucial to perform all the routine and preparatory maintenance procedures in advance.
This includes checking your car’s battery, inspecting engine belts and hoses, replacing filters, ensuring car tires are correctly inflated, and checking your vehicle’s fluids. Keeping up with your vehicle’s routine maintenance is not an option. The last thing you want is to let car trouble ruin your memories and road trip experience. Lastly, you need to clean your car and remove all the excess baggage. Driving a clean, well-organized vehicle will make for a more pleasant experience.
Keep a Hard Copy of a USA Map
Ask any avid traveler—particularly those who enjoy road trips—and they’ll tell you there are places and locations where Google Maps, the GPS, and Apple Maps don’t work. While digital navigation tools can be useful when it comes to getting driving directions, you want to keep a road atlas or U.S paper map in your car as well.
There are places where your GPS will have ridiculous routing instructions, despite having a signal. And when that happens, a fold-out road map can help you track the route to your final destination. A high-resolution printed map will get you around those old little dirt roads and show you where certain landmarks were washed out. Plus, you won’t have to worry about running out of battery, losing a navigation signal, or someone tracking you.
Create a Budget Before you Set-Off
Road trips are generally cheaper than air travel. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan ahead and create a road trip budget. In fact, your road trip expenses can quickly go up if you don’t take the time to map out potential costs and plan accordingly.
First, you need to prioritize your attractions as there are seemingly endless options when it comes to attractions, sights, and things to do. List down the things that are more important to you and only prioritize those. It’s also important that you choose routes that can help you maximize your gas mileage and save on accommodation.
You can save a lot of money by simply taking advantage of free outdoor concerts and entertainment, keeping a stock of food in your vehicle, and traveling to destinations where your dollar will go further. If you’re hitting the road with your friends or family, be sure to involve them in budgeting for the trip. This will help set the right expectations for everyone and prevent spending issues from arising during the trip.
Decide on Your Must-See Attractions
There’s little point in planning for a road trip if you’re unsure or have no idea why you’re even going on vacation in the first place. You don’t necessarily have to come up with a strict plan on things to do and see during your trip. You only need to plot out a rough plan that gives you and your friends or family an idea of what stops you’d like to make and what sights you’d like to see during the trip. This means you have to research and include all these things in your itinerary or plan so everyone knows where and why you’re making stops.
Make sure you allow for spontaneity and some flexibility, so your trip is more exciting and fun with random stops and detours. Some of the roadside attractions you’ll come across might turn out to be what makes your trip special.
Create a Road Trip Playlist for a Relaxing Drive
If you’ve ever been on a long road trip, whether as part of work or while on vacation, you know how silence can suck up your energy levels and make everything seem boring. Even listening to the local radio while driving gets boring quickly. And even if you find radio shows to be exciting and hilarious, there are places where there’s no coverage.
Creating a road trip playlist with your favorite soundtracks can keep everyone’s energy levels high and turn your road trip into an epic one. It’s also the perfect way to make your drive more exciting and relaxing. Be sure to download a few playlists and a few must-listen podcasts before you hit the road.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Locals About the Best Sights
Perhaps one of the reasons you’re hitting the road with friends and family is to discover the unexpected and explore the different cultures in your destination. You’ve probably already done your homework and decided on your must-see attractions. You even have a printed, fold-out map and Google Maps app ready to hit the road.
All these are important, but they might not be useful when you need to learn about local culture or even uncover some of the hidden attractions in the area. The locals have a better understanding of the area you’re visiting and their advice can be invaluable for local foods, local culture, shops, attractions, etc.
Take Frequent Breaks
Your road trip should be fun, exciting, and enjoyable. As mentioned, your itinerary needs to allow room for spontaneity and flexibility. It’s not uncommon for travelers to plan too much and try very hard to stick to their schedule or plan. While there’s nothing wrong with taking your road trip seriously, you want to go easy on yourself by taking regular rest breaks.
Your plan should factor in frequent stops that will help you stay alert and keep your energy up while on the road. You don’t want to spend the whole day driving as this can impact your safety. Embrace the country’s beautiful scenery and wonderful attractions while on the road by making stops and taking selfies with your friends and adults. Take it easy.