The road trip. A classic American adventure. Throughout history, the road trip has been a symbol of freedom, fun, and excitement. And now more than ever, families are taking advantage of the opportunity to make memories with those they love most.
In fact, road trips have seen a 64% increase among families in the last 5 years!
Road trips provide a chance to bond with friends and family while experiencing the country in a unique and hands-on way. But in order to plan a road trip that you and your family will look back on fondly, you’ll need to be organized.
To help you in this endeavor, a guide to planning the ultimate road trip is outlined below, including everything you need to know before you get behind the wheel.
Prepare Your Car Beforehand
The condition of your car can make or break your road trip. To avoid an uncomfortable, stressful drive, you need to prepare your car for the road before you leave.
First, give your car a thorough cleaning. Empty out all of the trash you’ve accumulated in your daily commutes, vacuum out any dirt or pet hair, and ensure that your glove box is neat and organized.
Next, take your car for a tune-up. Get the oil changed and the tires rotated and ask the mechanic to check your brakes and fluid levels. Be sure that your spare tire is inflated and pack jumper cables, a jack, and extra wiper fluid in your trunk.
Pack the Necessities
Check that all of your necessary paperwork is in your car, including your registration and proof of insurance, as well as any maps and guide books you might want for your trip. It can be helpful to have a map specifically designed for a road trip. These will indicate interesting roads and attractions that are worth a stop.
If you don’t have lumbar support car seats, pack a cushion for back support. Maintaining proper posture throughout your trip will keep you both comfortable and alert.
Have a Rough Plan
It’s okay to leave room for an impulse stop or two, but for the most part, you want to have a plan for your road trip. Because it’s easy to become drowsy behind the wheel, you should plan to stop every two hours or so.
This can be a quick break at a rest stop or taking a longer break at a roadside attraction, as long as you’re getting out to stretch your legs. It’s a good idea to plan for a longer break between the hours of 1 and 3 pm when your body experiences a natural drop in energy.
Take time to research online or study maps to determine how long you’ll spend in the car each day and where you’ll stop each night. To get the most out of your days, try to include a mix of interstate and scenic routes.
Your research using the best resources to plan a road trip will help you decide which backroads are worth the additional time!
Make a Snack and Drink Checklist
When planning a road trip, one of the most important checklists is the one for your snacks and drinks. While you’ll be making semi-frequent stops to stretch your legs, it’s not a good idea to load up on fast food and junk when you do so.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying an occasional candy bar or bag of chips on the road. However, too much junk food will leave you feeling drowsy and unfocused – the last two things you want to be when behind the wheel.
To prevent the need for tons of fast food, pack plenty of healthy snacks and drinks. Your primary drink should be water, as it will keep you hydrated and energized throughout your trip. As for snacks, go with mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods.
Your specific snack list will depend on your and your family’s preferences, but some good choices include dried fruit, vegetables with hummus, popcorn, almonds, and trail mix.
Bring a cooler in the car and line it with frozen water bottles. These will keep you and your passengers hydrated all day and double as a cooling agent for your refrigerated foods.
Don’t Forget the Entertainment
In addition to your drinks and snacks, you’ll need to pack entertainment. Both for yourself and your passengers.
Now, if you have adults or older children along for the ride, they can pack their own bags. But with small children, you’ll need to prepare for the inevitable barrage of “are we there yet” and do what you can to prevent it.
On your checklist, include a variety of books, movies, games, and crafts for the children in the car. For yourself, add music and audiobooks. You want to be able to keep yourself entertained while keeping your eyes on the road.
Having a music app on your phone isn’t enough. Take it a step further by creating a road trip playlist that will allow you to hit play and look away.
Add plenty of upbeat songs that keep you alert and with audiobooks, don’t choose anything that will put you to sleep. Comedy and adventure are best!
Use This Guide to Plan a Road Trip You’ll Never Forget
Spontaneity can be an exciting part of any vacation, but the best road trip is one that’s well-planned. If you plan a road trip in advance rather than winging it, you’ll find it a much more enjoyable experience.
Having a solid road trip checklist and ensuring that everything is taken care of will help you to create a vacation that your family will want to take year after year.
For more travel tips and tricks, be sure to take a look at our blog!