7 tips on how to plan the perfect road trip

Planes, trains and buses may get you where you need to go, but there is something alluring about hitting the open road to begin a new journey. Taking a road trip can be a terrific way to travel and see more of the city/country/state you are visiting. However, roadtrips can also be exhausting. Before you jump in the car and hit the road, you’ll need to do a little planning and preparation first. The following tips will allow you to plan the perfect road trip.

1. Set expectations.

Before you set off on the open road with your friends, make sure you have a discussion about what everyone expects. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you plan on stopping along the way or do you want to maximize your time and just get to your destination?

  • How will you divvy up driving? By hours, days or until someone gets tired?

  • How will gas be split?

  • Will you stay in hostels, hotels, or apartment rentals?

  • Will you stop for food in restaurants or get sandwiches and snacks along the way?

  • Does the driver mind if everyone sleeps or does he or she want someone awake?

  • Are impromptu stops okay or is there a schedule to stick to?

It’s best to have an idea of what everyone expects so that no one will be frustrated and so that compromises can be made if need be. It’s so much easier to talk about these things beforehand then to assume everyone is on the same page.

2. Have hard copies of maps/directions/brochures.

Sure, we are in the ‘digital age’, but there is nothing wrong with having hard copies. Cell phones and technology aren’t always reliable, so having hard copies on-hand throughout your trip is always a great backup in the event of an emergency.

3. Get your car and tires completely checked before hitting the road.

Even if you have a reliable car, it’s beneficial to have a licensed mechanic give your car a once over so that you can be certain there are no problems. It is better to deal with any problems beforehand than on the side of the road during your journey.

4. Join AAA.

Many people think AAA (Automobile Club Of America) only offers roadside assistance, but they are also a wonderful resource for travelers. AAA can help you plan your trip, give you books on the destinations you will be driving through, help you with routes and general planning. Or, if you are a traveler that doesn’t need help you can get all of the information from them to plan on your own.

Don’t have AAA or there isn’t one in your area? Contact the local tourism boards of the areas you plan on visiting because many have downloadable maps and brochures that you can print out. Some tourism boards and visitors centers will even send you hard copies if you request them.

5. Make hotel reservations ahead of time.

There is nothing wrong with being spontaneous. In fact, it can sometimes add to the joy of the trip. However, it may be a good idea to have a hotel destination in mind so that you know for sure you will have some place to stay and be certain that where you stay is within your comfort level. And of course, you need my packing cubes and Luxury Travel Kits for your bags!

6. Have playlists set up.

With iPods, streaming services, and satellite radio, your music should never dry up, but you can’t forget about the power of a good playlist. In the event you lose reception or your signal on the road, you should have a playlist cued up and ready to go.

There is no reason to waste time trying to figure out which songs to play. It will take you a bit of time to get your playlists together for the trip, but you will be happy you have that out of the way, as it will be one less thing you won’t have to think about.

7. Give yourself plenty of time.

There is nothing worse than being rushed when you are trying to enjoy yourself. Driving gives you the flexibility to take your time, as well as enjoy the sites and attractions that you would like to see. Do you want to have leisurely mornings and drive at night? Is your destination someplace you want to spend lots of time in? Whatever your day consists of, give yourself enough time so that you can enjoy what makes you happy.

There you have it! Knowing how to plan a perfect roadtrip is simple if you do a bit of research and planning before you hit the open road.  

Would you add anything to the list? Have you taken a roadtrip before? 

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Some people travel. Roni IS travel. For over 20 years she has been traveling the world and now shares her unique insight with her worldwide audience on her blog, www.RoniTheTravelGuru.com. Whether you have never gotten on a plane or are a seasoned traveler, the expertise and insider knowledge she shares on her blog will help you make your travels an adventure. No where else can you find the uniquely helpful ins and out given to you by someone who has lived overseas for 4 years, speaks fluent English, French and Spanish, and works for a major airline. And guess what? She’s also a licensed elementary teacher and has an MBA.

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