A 2019 survey found that two-thirds of polled travelers planned to take a road trip within that year. Many of these were Millennial families, of which 57% road-tripped from one city to another.
Traveling, after all, can be fun and can even make you healthier. Researchers found that women who vacation at least twice a year have a lower risk of getting a heart attack. Moreover, it took only a day or two of vacay to reduce stress levels in 89% of respondents.
All that should be enough reason to learn how to plan a road trip. While a road trip may is more flexible than traveling with an itinerary, you should still prepare for it. This way, you can reduce the odds of delays or even accidents from ruining your holiday.
Don’t worry, though, as we’re here to give you a primer on planning an awesome road trip. Read on to discover the top road trip tips to have a blast and ensure everyone stays safe and secure.
Make Sure Your Ride Is Up to It
Did you know that vehicle failure caused an estimated 44,000 crashes from 2005 to 2007? Today, mechanical problems still lead to thousands of road collisions. As such, it’s in your best interest to prep your ride for the long road (trip) ahead.
This is especially crucial if you have plans of driving cross-country or road tripping for a few days. The longer you’ll be out on the road, the more vital it is to spruce up your ride.
Start by making sure your tires have proper pressure and enough tread depth. Top up all fluids, including coolants, engine, motor, brake, and wiper fluids. Fix all problems with your vehicle lights, fuses, and horn.
Don’t forget to pack a spare tire and your auto survival toolbox. At the very least, your kit should have a keychain flashlight, extra batteries, and various hand tools. Stash a thick towing rope and bungee cords in your toolbox, too, in case of emergency breakdowns. Check out aaa Washington for more details.
Stay on Top of the Weather Forecast
10-day forecasts have a 50% accuracy, which means they can be wrong half of the time. By contrast, a five-day forecast is often 90% spot-on, so it only has a 10% chance of being wrong. So, it’s best to look at five-day forecasts as you prep for your road trip.
Speaking of weather, make sure you pack at least one warm garment plus a water-proof jacket. An umbrella, bag rain hood, and a small water-proof bag will also help keep you and your stuff dry. The last two are super nifty if you also plan to go on trails or hikes.
Map Out Everyone’s Must-Visit Spots
Whether you’re going solo or traveling in a pack, be sure to make a list of your (or everyone else’s) must-sight sites. You can use a map-based app to figure out and organize the best routes to these spots. For instance, you can use Google Maps to include all stops and find the shortest routes.
Aside from directions, you should also check out the road and traffic conditions in each area. Research the times of the day when congestion gets so bad so that you can find alternatives. You may also want to reach these places before or after the rush hour.
Allocate Time for Side Trips
While you want to know where to go on a road trip beforehand, you still want a few free hours each day for the unknown. Road trips are so awesome because they let you discover things off the beaten path, such as a town’s hidden gems. Friendly locals you meet may also divulge insider info on secret spots you should visit.
Research Parking Spaces and Accommodations
If you’re visiting a crowded or touristy area, you might have a hard time securing a safe place for your ride. So, a few days before your road trip, locate and reserve parking spots as close to the sites you want to visit.
As for accommodations, consider going for those that come with guaranteed parking. Don’t forget to check the crime rate in the area, too. This way, you can rest for the next day’s long drive without worrying about your car and stuff getting stolen.
Take the Time to Learn Your Destination’s Road Laws
If you’re road-tripping to another state, make sure you learn its maximum speed limits. Even if they’re neighbors, the state you live in may have higher limits than the one you’re visiting.
An example is North and South Dakota; ND’s urban interstate limit is 75 mph, while it’s 80 mph for SD. Another is Iowa and Nebraska; IA’s urban interstate limit is 55 mph, but it’s 70 mph in NE.
You should also check your destination’s distracted driving and DUI laws. Where you’re headed may have more stringent road rules.
In Utah, for instance, it’s already illegal to drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.05%. By contrast, all other states implement a 0.08% BAC threshold.
Respect the Locals and the Environment
Last but not least is to know the local customs of each place you want to visit. Be mindful and respectful of the locals, and make sure you don’t leave any trash behind! If you can’t find any garbage bin, take the trash with you to your car and dispose of it properly later on.
It’s also a smart (and green) idea to bring a small trash bag when you go on trails or hikes. Use portable tongs to transfer the garbage you see on these paths into that garbage bag.
Have a Blast by Following These Tips on How to Plan a Road Trip
No matter how perfect your plans are, you should still keep an open mind and expect a few setbacks along the way. However, the more prepared you are for heavy traffic or bad weather, the less stress you’ll feel if they come to pass.
So, keep in mind everything in this guide on how to plan a road trip! This way, you can get as close as possible to having a perfect vacay.
Ready for more trip guides like this? Feel free to check out our site’s other Travel posts then!
Andrea Parker is a reporter for Zobuz. She previously worked at Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Andrea is based in NYC and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe coffee addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.