You don’t have to be a Boy Scout to understand the importance of being prepared. It’s a motto that stands the test of time, especially if you’re planning a road trip. If you’re going to break down, make sure you break down with a Spotify playlist and a boot full of snacks for company. Here’s our guide to planning the perfect road trip:
1. Pick the right people
This might sound silly but if you’re planning an epic drive, you want your passengers to share some of the long-distance driving, or at the very least contribute a couple of car games. No one likes a backseat driver, especially one with a limited knowledge of car games. If you can, pick your car friends wisely.
2. Plan your route
Seems like a no-brainer but prepping a realistic route with a pick-up and drop-off point (if renting), rough daily driving distances and a few stop-off points is key to planning the perfect road trip. That’s not to say you can’t veer off track but putting a few milestones in place will make sure you tick off those must-sees along the way. The Roadtrippers app is a great tool for planning routes.
3. Download a mobile GPS
If you’re renting a car, many companies will offer you a GPS at extra cost. Avoid these fees by downloading an offline navigational app on your mobile. We highly recommend Maps.me but it’s worth having another GPS system installed as a backup. Make sure you also have a charger and a hands-free stand for your mobile. It might also be worth taking an A-Z for emergencies – if they still exist!
4. Book places to stay
You don’t have to go mad here but booking some accommodation before you leave can take the pressure off when on the road. You don’t want to be driving through mid-America where the only overnight option in 20 miles is Big Dick’s Halfway Inn (that place actually exists). Check out Airbnb for an incredible selection of guesthouses and homes, a lot of which are only accessible by car.
5. Learn the roads
To avoid any nasty surprises, it’s a good idea to read up on the local driving habits of your chosen destination. At the very least, you should know what side of the road you’re expected to drive on. You should also prepare yourself for the world’s slightly less conventional traffic laws. For example, it’s legal to turn right on a red in the States, it’s illegal to stop for pedestrians in Beijing and you’re not allowed to drive topless in Thailand. Keep those nips covered!
6. Ready your ride
Before any long trip, you want your car to be in tip-top shape. Rental companies should do this for you but it’s worth checking the general condition of the car and noting any scratches in case they try to charge you later. If it’s your own car, check the vital fluids and make sure you have all the tools and know-how to change a flat tire. You never know when it will come in handy! You might also want to get rid of any unnecessary clutter, so you get more miles per gallon and have more room for snacks / oddball hitchhikers.
7. Check the weather
Without sounding too mumsy, have you checked the weather? Depending on where you’re going, your route could be affected by the elements. No one wants to be caught up in floods or snow storms, especially when exploring unchartered lands in an unfamiliar vehicle. You’ll probably be fine but it’s worth considering the road conditions before taking any unnecessary risks.
8. Stock up on snacks
Arguably the most important part of a road trip. Snack choices can make or break friendships. Stock up on sugary treats and always make sure you have lots of water with you. If possible, take a cooler for fresh foods so you can make sandwiches. You never know when you might see a pretty picnic spot. This will also save you money on unhealthy motorway stops – not that there’s anything wrong with a dirty cheeseburger, but it’s good to have other options.
9. Prepare a kitty
Having an in-car kitty for parking, petrol, tolls and snacks is key to avoiding arguments on the road. Depending on where you’re tripping, the cost of travelling by car can be quite high. It’s worth working out a rough daily budget and adding this to the kitty. You can save money by avoiding toll roads, staying in places with free parking, and filling up at petrol stations where there’s high competition and lower prices. The Kitty Split App is a great way to keep a record of group expenses.
10. Make a playlist
We’ve saved the most fun bit for last. Sure, checking the car’s engine oil is important but having the ultimate road trip playlist is essential for the perfect road trip. Stick a few bangers on there like Little Red Corvette and Sweet Home Alabama and you’ll avoid endless hours singing about green bottles on walls. Spotify even has its own road trip singalong playlist so there’s no excuse for any moments of in-car silence.
So, there you have it, 10 helpful hints for planning a road trip. Doesn’t matter where you are or where you’re going, these tips will make sure you’re fully prepared to take on the open road. Maps? Tick. Snacks? Tick. Tunes? TICK! You’re ready.