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It is that time of the year again: Time to pack your family or friends in the car and hit the open road. Planning the ultimate road trip can be a daunting task, but we are here to help you out.
How to plan the perfect road trip
Planning any sort of awesome vacation can be challenging enough, but when you are taking a long car ride, with stops along the way, you will find all kinds of challenges along the way that have to be dealt with. Here are a few things to think about as you prepare for your perfect road trip:
Plan your routes and breaks before you do anything else
You know where you want to end up, but choosing the route that you want to take and where you want to stop along the way can really depend on your travel style. It is recommended that you make sure everyone is on the same wavelength before you leave to avoid being stuck in a car with disgruntled passengers for 8 hours a day (especially disgruntled children – that’s never fun!). If you must travel with someone whose style does not really suit yours, you may want to consider arranging a shorter trip.
You will save yourself a lot of time and frustration, by figuring out the best route to your destination, before you leave.⠀There are various tools that you can use to do this, a couple of which are listed below.
Roadtrippers: This service uses Google Maps to set out your route and help you find all the pit stops. You can save trips and update them, too. You can also estimate fuel costs, time, and distance with Roadtrippers. Just make sure that you have signed up for SMARTY unlimited data so that you do not run out of data on the way!
On The Way: On The Way is an iOS app that shows you not only stops and restaurants along your planned route, but things like parks, museums, and other attractions that you may find interesting.
If you are going to hoof it with your GPS-enabled devices, it might be a good idea to take two of them with you. GPS systems are not always 100% accurate and can show different routes to the same location. You might even see a faster journey on one that is not clear on the other. At the very least, have two separate surfing apps on your phone.
It is also essential to check the weather beforehand. One route can look shorter on the map, but the weather may turn that short route into a long and dangerous one.
Don’t over plan
No matter how much you prepare, you should expect the unexpected. Keep your mind open and be willing to go with the flow. Road work, highways being out, and unexpected incidents are almost sure to slow things down along the way. Try not to sweat it too much, and remember that one day, you will look back and laugh about it.
It is also a good idea to keep your plans loose because you never know when fun and exciting opportunities will come up. A lack of spontaneity can really kill the fun. You could drive past a great attraction on the way that you had not factored in, so think about building in some free time in your schedule.
Plan your budget – and stick to it
Driving somewhere can cost you a lot less money than flying there, but it still comes with additional costs that you may not have planned for. For example, make sure that you include food and accommodations in your budget, as well as any fun things you want to do along the way. You also need to factor in things like fuel costs, toll fees, and some emergency money in case of breakdowns or flat tires.
Look at where you can save cash
You might have a substantial budget in position, but that does not mean you can’t save some money. Going in less than your budget means extra money to spend on the fun stuff! One of the highest costs is probably going to be fuel.
Make sure you fill up your car with fuel before you leave. Also, use an app that helps you find the best gas stations in your area with the best prices – that will give you a head start. Also, be aware that gas stations out in the middle of nowhere are more likely to be more expensive as they have a captive audience with no other choice, so avoid them where you can, and fill up before you are in the middle of nowhere!
Another big cost is likely to be your food. You have to eat, so it isn’t one that you can avoid, but like with everything, there are ways that you can save a bit of cash. Bring what food you can with you, that won’t spoil, and maybe a small cooler for some drinks. Anything you can bring along will be food that you don’t have to buy.
This also allows you to eat when and where you want, which is especially important if you have younger children in the car or are planning on going out into the middle of nowhere.
Check your car over
The last thing anyone wants to do on a road trip is to be coming back home on the back of a tow truck. Before you set out, make sure your car is in tip-top condition and ready to go. A well-maintained car will also mean that it runs more efficiently, saving you money in fuel.
Check oil levels and things like coolants and washer fluids, and if it is a long journey, make sure you also check these things along the way or before you return home. Tire pressures need to be looked at, and inflated to the correct pressure and that you have all the correct breakdown cover and auto insurance in place.
Pack a set of basic car tools into the trunk just in case you do have to carry out any minor repairs along the way and make sure that your spare tire is ok and easy to access.
Start packing the car
There is a bit of a knack to packing a car properly. Consolidate and pack your bags to the maximum capacity possible. It might seem more efficient to pack all one type of thing in one bag and another kind of thing in another, but if you put as many things together as possible, you will have more space overall. Just note where you put it all! Pack the clothes you need at your first stop at the very top, and have an emergency set of clothes ready for convenient access.
Think about the entertainment
You need something to prevent you from getting bored once you are out on the open road. Boredom causes you to feel tired, and feeling tired leads you to endanger the whole travel group. Anything from music to audiobooks and traditional car games will help keep boredom at bay.
IPods, streaming, and radio mean that your music will never dry up, but don’t underestimate the power of a well-mixed CD or playlist. If you can, make a playlist that everyone likes enough to endure for most of the ride.
If you can’t all agree, play some traditional car games, such as ‘I Spy’ or car bingo. If you have young children, this will keep them entertained, which also helps remove potential distractions for the driver.
A road trip can be an unforgettable experience for you and your group, but it can be a frustrating experience if you do not take the time to prepare.
What the heck are you waiting for? Follow these tips to get it all sorted out quickly and efficiently and head out on the trip of a lifetime. The open road is ready and waiting for you!