Tips for Planning a Cross-country Road Trip
Road trips are one of those countless experiences that we enjoy. If you have a sense of adventure and a love for sight-seeing and nature exploration, this should be in your to-do list especially during summer. In order to enjoy long hours of driving or just being a passenger, careful planning must be done ahead of time in terms of budget, itinerary, foods, and everything else. Wherever your cross-country trip may lead you, here are top 10 tips for planning a cross-country road trip to keep your sanity and your wallet.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
While you may want to bring along your whole circle of friends, road trips take long hours of driving, chatting and eating. You may have friends whom you are not so comfortable with that or are not so familiar to you; you may opt to spend time with them at a bar rather than on the road. You also need to bring along friends who will keep the entire trip smooth and enjoyable. Sometimes, when friends are becoming boring or annoying, you may wish to have installed an ejection seat in the back.
Plan Your Itinerary
Do not just take the shortest way going to every destination. While it may be the easiest, driving through the countryside or passing by scenic byways are the best opportunities to enjoy beautiful attraction and fascinating scenery. Few days before the trip, plot the itinerary with the stopovers, how many hours of driving from one stop to the next, and what activities can be done along the way. Keep your itinerary simple but make sure to make it fun and filled with wonderful experiences.
Don’t Eat At the Drive-Thru
While dining out is also part of the road trip experience, it is also the most expensive. As part of your itinerary, research in advance where to find cheaper, authentic and more delicious food stalls compared to fast food joints. Or better yet, bring the cooler and bring along water, juices and snacks. You can also pack sandwiches, fruits and other foods that can come in handy when hunger strikes anytime. You can even bring your barbecue grill if you want to cook out at rest stops or public grills.
Book Your Accommodations In Advance
Cross-country road trips are tiring, and getting to the next lodging house is something exciting. You want to relax and have a good night rest at every stop-over. So, to avoid hassles, it is wise to reserve your accommodation a few days ahead of time to avoid fully booked rooms or non-availability. Don’t forget to bring your printed booking confirmation information to show to the hotel staff upon your arrival.
Watch Your Budget
Keep in mind of your budget. It is still best to know in advance the cost of the lodging house, the admission fees to attractions and food budget for dining out in an exotic restaurant. Calculate the driving distance so you will know how much to allocate for gas money, and an extra in case you get lost or make slight changes in your itinerary. You also need to pay at toll ways, so be sure to save some for it. And don’t forget to make a budget for emergencies, souvenirs and stopovers at can’t-be-missed attractions.
Take Turns Driving
Driving for long hours is not easy and you will get tired or too lazy to get off the car at certain road stops. It must be a rule to have someone else in the driver’s seat whenever necessary, so the other can rest or enjoy the scenery. Whenever you need to switch, don’t be shy to ask your buddy to take over the driver’s seat.
Consider Your Furry Friend
Bringing along Fluffy and Furry may add to your travel experience, but they must also be included in your travel plans. Bring a carrier or restraint system which fits your pet. Make sure to inform the hotel that you will be bringing your pet so that you will know if they accept animals. Bring also your pet’s medical records for emergency purposes. Schedule your pet’s food, water, and stretching hours so your pet will also enjoy the trip and not feel sick, which will also ruin the entire trip.
Make Sure the Car Is Road Trip Ready
Take the car to the mechanic and have it checked. Have it oil changed and check that all the fluids are full. Bring extra tires and other tools. Learn how to change a tire, add coolant, rig up a jump start or determine if something is wrong under the hood. Your car may become your best friend or your worst enemy on a road trip, but it all depends on how you prepare it and how you can handle troubles along the road.
Just like when you pack for a travel on a plane, you also need to pack sensibly. Bring only necessary clothes, eating utensils, gears and others. As much as possible, bring clothes made of lightweight materials and dries easily. Have one bag for each one in the trip so you avoid scrambling your things and for easy unpacking also.
Expect the Unexpected
Itinerary, check! Lodging reservation, check! Food, check! Budget, check! While everything is already perfectly planned and the whole group is buckled up, there are still other things that you have not expected to happen on your road trip. Avoid being caught for over speeding, be mentally and physically prepared, and most of all, don’t miss out on any unplanned routes. Expect to be surprised along the way.
As you plan for your next road trip, take time to enjoy what nature has to offer and grab every once in a lifetime opportunity. Use your road trip experience as a way to slow down, relax and be amazed at what every road stop and detour has to offer you. Don’t forget to capture every moment.