How to Plan a Road Trip and Top Tips for Long Drives

The key to a perfect road trip is doing it right! And, we’re here to tell you exactly how to plan a road trip and give you some tips for long drives so that you have the most unforgettable experience.

If you’re looking for an adventure while also getting to slow down and enjoy the journey, a road trip is the way to go! Road trips are an ideal way to travel and explore all that’s around you. They allow you to get off the beaten track, spend time in places you normally wouldn’t, and see a variety of destinations.

So, let’s take a look at how you can plan the ideal road trip.

how to plan a road trip

How to Plan a Road Trip

Whether you’re a road trip newbie or you’ve done it dozens of times, these tips will tell you how to plan a road trip you’ve been dreaming of!

1. Brainstorm Where You Want to Go and Why

This is the most fun part of planning! Ask yourself these questions to help you get started on planning the road trip of your dreams.

  • How long do you have for your trip?
  • How far can you go during that time?
  • What places have you really been wanting to check out?
  • What kind of weather do you want to experience?
  • What kind of activities do you want to do?

Make a list of possible places that fit the bill for your answers to the questions.

2. Research and Pick Your Destinations

Now that you have some ideas for destinations, you can start researching. Hop on the internet and search ‘road trip in X place’ and you’ll probably find some awesome insight. If there’s a certain area you want to visit, you can always look at that place on Google Maps and look at cities around it.

If you want to be flexible and live life on the edge, pick a main destination to go to and go from there. Some of the best trips come from not having a plan.

Are you looking to take a fall road trip? Read about the 7 Most Scenic Fall Road Trips in America This Year.

3. Decide the Best Route

If you know specific places you plan to go, save them all on your Google Maps. Then, you can see a bird’s eye view of where you plan to go in order to create a route. When deciding on your route, consider whether you want to drive on highways or back roads.

Roadtrippers is a really cool tool to use that will help you build your route and explore new places that are on the way. This is an awesome way to check out sites you maybe wouldn’t have!

google maps: how to plan a road trip

4. Choose a Mode of Transportation

Consider the following when deciding on the vehicle you’re going to take.

  • About how many miles are you driving?
  • How many people are going?
  • How long will you be on your road trip?
  • What kind of conditions will you be driving in?
  • Do you plan to do any camping?
  • How much money do you want to spend on gas and accommodations?

After you’ve answered these questions, you can choose the vehicle that’s best for your road trip. Here are the top options.

Your Personal Car

If the answers to the questions above allow you to use your own car, this step is simple! It’s nice that you’re comfortable driving your own car and you don’t have to pay for a different vehicle.

Rental Car

It may be best to choose this option if your car doesn’t need more miles added to it, it’s not reliable for long-distance driving, or you’d like a different style or size for the trip. Also, renting a car is convenient if you plan to fly somewhere before starting your journey on the road.

Campervan or RV

Campervans and RVs are the newest trends these days! This is probably because of the freedom they give. This option allows you to have more space than a standard car, possibly a kitchen, and maybe even a bathroom (great for long drives and children). If you plan to do some camping or want the option to pull over and rest as needed, a campervan or RV allows you to do this.

There are various options when it comes to renting campervans and RVs. They come in many different sizes, shapes, and layouts. Some are more affordable while others can be pricey. A lot of people choose this option because they can save on food if there’s a kitchen and they can save on accommodation.

5. Book Accommodations

Once you know where you’re going and what kind of vehicle you’re using, you can book accommodations. Many hotels, Airbnbs, and campsites can be booked close to time, while others need to be booked in advance. This depends on the time and location.

If you want to be more flexible on your journey, you can always book as you go. So, maybe start by booking your first 3-5 days before you head off. Then, you can reevaluate where you’ll be in the next few days to book your next accommodation.

glamping: how to plan a road trip

6. Get Your Vehicle Ready

Last up on how to plan a road trip, it’s crucial to get your vehicle serviced before you head off. Maintenance is crucial when you plan to drive a lot of miles.

Pro tip: Have your vehicle check periodically throughout your trip if you’re taking a long trip or going to be driving a lot.

You’ll also want to clean it out to make sure you have room for everything you’re bringing. Also, check to make sure you have all the documents you need such as insurance cards and registration.

A safety kit is always a good idea so prep a few items including jumper cables, flashlight, and water. This car emergency kit is handy to have and has just about everything you need!

Tips for Long Drives

Now that you know how to plan a road trip, you’re almost ready to hit the road! While driving long distances can be thrilling, there can also be downfalls. Mishaps can occur, it can be tiring, and children or pets can add a different element to the journey.

These road trip tips will help avoid or overcome any challenges so that you can have the best experience possible!

Have Convenient Car Gadgets and Tech Accessories

Convenience is nice when you’re spending a lot of time in the car. And, tech accessories keep your devices running. Here are some of our favorite handy gadgets for road trips.

  • Phone holder mount: Use this to mount your phone so that your phone is available to look at for directions, phone calls, etc. while still being safe and hands-free.
  • Multiple car charger outlets: This device is ideal for charging multiple devices at once while driving.
  • Portable power bank: For backup, a portable power bank keeps devices charged at all times. You can even carry it with you to charge your phone as you’re exploring outside of the car.
  • Car seat cushion: Sitting for long periods can become uncomfortable. This extra soft seat cushion can be a lifesaver!
  • Back seat organizer: If you’re taking a long trip, camping in your vehicle, or have children, this back seat organizer is incredible.
  • Window shades: These shades allow passengers to be more comfortable and rest without the bright sun.

Create Comfort

Make sure you stay comfy for your long drive by wearing cozy clothes and possibly compression socks. The seat cushion mentioned above is great for prolonged sitting, too. Passengers can bring a blanket, an eye mask, and earplugs for resting.

Bring Drinks and Snacks

Bringing drinks and food is a good way to stay awake and save money. Staying hydrated is always important because it’s easy to get dehydrated and sleepy when driving a lot. Pack a bag with convenient snacks for the road and restock before the next journey.

Take Breaks

Just like when we work a long day, breaks also keep up our momentum while road tripping. Stop at rest areas for a stretch. And, since you’re on a vacation, make stops when something catches your eye. Don’t forget that one of the best parts about taking a road trip is the adventures you find along the way!

Keep Your Vehicle Clean and Organized

Driving and vacations can be draining and so can clutter. Easily keep your vehicle organized by straightening up and getting rid of trash each time you stop.

Change Up What You’re Listening To

One of the most fun parts of a road trip is singing and listening to audiobooks or podcasts. Create a couple of different music playlists and download some good books and podcasts to listen to. This will help keep everyone entertained and the driver alert.

Allow for Spontaneity

Road trips are meant for seeing new things and exploring what’s around you. While a plan is always good to have, be spontaneous if you drive through a town that seems interesting or spot a restaurant that you want to stop at. Be adventurous and ask a local how to spend the day. They usually have the inside scoop!

couple watching sunset- road trip tips

Vehicle Maintenance

As we mentioned in our steps on how to plan a road trip, you definitely want to do this before your trip and during it if you’re doing a lot of driving. Having a vehicle emergency kit can allow you to take care of minor issues you may encounter.

Be Flexible

This kind of goes with being spontaneous, too. Keep in mind that your road trip may not go exactly as planned and that’s okay! Be open to adventures you didn’t plan for and stay positive if something goes wrong. It’s all about the experience!

Key Takeaways

Now that you know how to plan a road trip, it’s time to get started! While hopping on an airplane to get away is always invigorating, a road trip offers unmatched experiences.

If you have any other tips for long road trips or planning, let us know in the comments below!

If you’re looking for inclusive destinations, check out The 13 Most Diverse Cities in the World for Multicultural Travel.

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