Whether you’re taking a road trip to a family reunion or just to quench your spirit of adventure, one good thing about a successful road trip is that you’ll remember it eternally. The spectacular scenery and the absolute thrill of uncertainty—such as where will we eat? How far is the next stop?—are just some of the factors that make road trips more memorable as compared to air travel. In fact, most people have confessed that the lure of the road is undeniable as compared to flying. Due to this reason, staying well equipped with a few road trip tips is virtually important especially if you have kids around.
Now, while most people consider road travel as the best for vacations and trips, most motorists, especially those within the Central Business District (CBD), might find it difficult to cope with the endurance demands of long trips. Due to this reason, we’ve taken a bold step to ask some of our social media friends as well as experts across various travel blogs about some of their traveling secrets. Since their responses were awesome, we’ve shared most of those great ideas to help you get prepared before embarking on a long drive behind the wheel. Please read on.
50 Tips to Make Your Road Trip an Easy Ride
Before Your Trip
1. Have Plenty of Sleep
Before you begin your road trip, always think about exhaustion especially if you’re not used to driving for long hours. So, to avoid fatigue and extreme exhaustion, you need to spare anywhere from two to three days to enjoy seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. This way, you will build your energy reserves and get the body ready for long hours of driving without stopping. After you’ve taken enough rest, start your trip at least early in the morning (when the body is fresh) rather than in the evening (after work) when the body is tired and worn out.
2. What Car?
Something else you’ll need to think of is the type of car you’ll be using. Your decision here will depend on your destination, how many people will be traveling, weather conditions, and the type of terrain you’ll be traversing on. So, in this case, you can think of hiring a 4WD SUV car, a convertible sports car, or just a car with high clearance to avoid any issues on your way. In case the trip is expected to last for several months, you can think of buying a used car then sell it once you get back.
3. Inspect Your Vehicle
Before embarking on a long trip, it’s always good to inspect your vehicle for any signs of damage. You can check the engine, the windows, the doors, the tires, or any other movable parts for any signs of wear. For complex parts such as the braking system and the engine, you can consult a professional mechanic to inspect it for you. The main reason for doing this is to ensure that your vehicle doesn’t develop any mechanical issues while you’re out in the wild.
4. Solve Any Dashboard Alerts
How much do you know about dashboard warning lights? Well, it all depends on your driving experience. Now, before you start your long drive, it’s highly paramount that you perform a comprehensive diagnosis by plugging a standard OBDII scanner into your car’s port located on the dashboard. By turning on the car, the OBDII scanner will power up and highlight the error code of various issues within the engine. This in return will allow you to diagnose the various issues before kick-starting your trip.
5. Do a Road Test
In case you’ve hired a car to use during your trip, it’s highly recommended that you conduct a quick road test around the neighborhood to listen to the engine sounds. Here, you need to ensure that you drive in a quiet place to pay maximum attention to engine sounds. In case you notice any weird noises, it’s good to hire a professional mechanic to inspect and fix the issue as soon as possible before you can start your journey.
6. Check the Fluids and Air
About the fluids, you’ll need to think about the radiator coolant, the windshield washer, the brake fluid, and the engine oil. All these fluids will play a key role in keeping your car in good shape throughout the journey. In case the trip will take long before your next stop, you can pack extra oil, gas, and a few gallons of water in the car’s truck just to be on the safe side. When it comes to air, you need to ensure that your tires are properly inflated.
7. Check Battery Terminals
One thing that can ruin a successful road trip is your car’s battery. Just like your car’s tires, the battery plays a critical role in powering any electrical components in your vehicle. Therefore, you need to keep an eye on your battery’s terminals for any signs of corrosion. In case you spot any, simply clean it off using a cup of water mixed with one tablespoon of baking soda. Once you’re done, clean the terminals with a damp cloth then fit them back tightly.
8. Perform a Final Pre-Check
You need to perform a quick pre-check of all the components to ensure that everything is working. Since we’ve already mentioned the engine and the dashboard alerts, other things you’ll need to check on include the brake pads, the windshield wipers and the horn/exterior lights. Of course, you can’t travel if any of these components are faulty. Therefore, you’ll need to inspect them by performing a quick drive test. In case there’s any problem, you can just hire a mechanic to fix them rather than do it yourself to avoid making the problem even worse.
Travel Packing Tips
9. Pack a Spare-Tire Kit
Your tires are the most delicate components of your vehicle as they’re the ones getting in contact with the road. Therefore, you need to think of investing in a spare-tire kit to help solve the difficult part of dealing with a flat tire. This kit comprises of a spare tire, a jack, lift kit, winch, and a lug wrench. It’s a perfect solution for those cars that rely on run-flat and doughnut tires as temporary spare tires before repairing the original tire.
10. Pack Key Documents
Since your road trip will involve traveling from one state or one country to another, you’ll expect to be pulled over by patrols on duty several times. To avoid friction with the law, it’s wise to pack key travel documents such as up-to-date travel insurance and a driver’s license. On top of these crucial documents, you can also carry a national park pass to get access to any national parks within the region you’ll be driving along. This is one way you can leave a lasting impression in your mind about your majestic trip.
11. Pack an Emergency Kit
An emergency kit is an essential addition you can’t afford to miss when getting ready for a long trip. At a bare minimum, you should pack a first aid kit in case of a sudden illness or injury, a spare tire, a flashlight, a jack, jumper cables, blankets, some food, and a pair of road flares. At least with these types of essentials, you’ll never get stranded during your trip especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
12. Pack an Extra Credit Card
Have you ever traveled to a foreign country or region and your wallet gets lost mysteriously? Well, it not only sucks, but you’re also screwed in the process. So, to avoid getting screwed in case you lose your wallet or in case your credit card gets frozen or “swallowed” by the ATM, you need to pack a backup credit card and a second debit card from another bank account just to stay on the safe side.
13. Check for the Fire Extinguisher
Some staff such as a fire extinguisher might not seem to be important not until you need them. In fact, most countries legally obligate motorists to carry fire extinguishers as part of a safety precaution. Therefore, since you’ll be driving in a foreign region, it’s always wise to pack a fire extinguisher to help you out in case of an emergency. In case you already have one in your car, spare some time to inspect it just to be sure it’s filled up.
14. Have a Spare Key
During your trip, you’ll expect to have some stopovers along the way to enjoy the beauty of nature. During this time, there’s a high possibility that you might accidentally lock your car keys inside your vehicle. To save yourself the trouble of having to break into your own car, why don’t you carry a spare key to save you such trouble? Just to mention, when you carry a spare key, don’t pack it inside the vehicle. Instead, pack it in your wallet or carry it using a key holder bracelet or a necklace.
15. Stay Connected and Entertained
In case it must be spelled out for you, never go for a road trip without your Smartphone and some music. Getting entertained with some music as you travel is one way you can enjoy your road trip. Therefore, pack your Smartphone with some downloaded playlists, and don’t forget to carry your USB cable. In fact, you should pack a backup battery and a power bank to ensure your Smartphone is always connected. Besides that, you need to pack a decent camera to capture high-quality photos of the spectacular landscapes, a WIFI device to stay online, and a GPS device to track your location.
16. Personal Care Kit
Although we mentioned carrying an emergency kit, there are cases when you might need to carry a personal care kit. Now, if you’re diabetic, you need to pack some insulin shots and if you’re asthmatic, you will have to carry an inhaler to avoid any medical problems during your trip. You can also pack a pair of earplugs, an eye mask, a scarf, toothpaste/brush, sunscreen, tissues, and some prescription drugs before you begin your journey.
17. Add Some Miscellaneous Items
Although you probably don’t need them, packing a few miscellaneous items can really help when everything goes south. Things like a hand sanitizer, flip-flops, thermos, dustbin, sunglasses, driving glasses, a shopping bag, a pocketknife, car cooler, a notebook, air freshener, bug spray, an umbrella, and a paper map can really help.
Besides that, you can think of packing some spare clothes depending on the type of climate you’re likely to face during your trip. In case the weather is likely to get snowy, then you can pack an ice scraper, a snow shovel, a snowbrush, warm gloves, and an antifreeze.
18. Pack Your Own Water
Packing your own water in a reusable water bottle is another great tip if you’re looking to enjoy your trip. You see, plastic waste is environmentally unfriendly especially if you have to buy several bottles of water on your way. To make things worse, the water you’re getting might be contaminated. Therefore, to reduce the risk, it’s better to pack your own water as it will save you the cost of having to pay for those expensive water bottles.
During Your Trip
19. Wash Your Car
Before you begin your long trip, it’s wise to first wash your car to avoid any inconveniences later. Remember, your long trip can’t be compared to a short drive to the mall. Your car will definitely be exposed to all sorts of dust and failing to clean it before the trip will be quite dangerous, as you won’t find the convenience to do it later. Therefore, make sure that you clean your car, especially the windows and the side mirrors to improve visibility. So you should also take a car duster with you for your long journey.
When cleaning your car, don’t forget to remove any old receipts and business cards in your glove box. In case you’re hiring a car, make sure that you know the rules of renting a car depending on the size and the category of the specific vehicle you’ll be using.
20. Modify Your Car’s Seat Height and Distance
During your road trip, you’ll probably expect to be sitting for prolonged hours while driving. Therefore, if you fail to adjust your seat at the start of your journey, you will feel uncomfortable and probably fail to enjoy your trip. So, before you start the engines, always take your time to adjust the seat. If your car is fitted with memory buttons, then you can use them to adjust your seat automatically to your preferred setting.
21. Adjust the Steering
Apart from the driver’s seat, another important consideration you shouldn’t forget about is adjusting the steering. Thankfully, most modern cars rely on adjustment buttons near the steering, which you can use to adjust to your preferred height and distance. Another key consideration is the side mirrors, which can also be adjusted using adjustment buttons next to the steering wheel. At least by doing this, your vision will not be interfered with during your drive.
22. Calculate the Cost of Gas
During your trip, you will need to calculate the total cost of fuel your car will consume. To do this, you need to calculate your car’s miles per gallon ratio. Next, use your GPS or Google Map assistance to calculate the total distance you’ll be covering during your trip. When you’re done, divide the total miles you’ll cover by the miles per gallon yield of your vehicle to determine the total fuel consumption. Lastly, multiply the total fuel consumption with the current fuel price to know how much you’ll be spending on fuel.
23. Google Maps
The best thing about Google Maps is that they allow you to plan and adjust your route beforehand. So, during your travel, you will easily work out your route from start to your final destination without any worries. This way, you will easily time yourself and know when it’s the best time to divert and visit various destinations such as national parks without interfering with the main trip.
24. Use Those Roads Less Traveled
Unless you have a strict schedule, it doesn’t pain to get off the highway and take the route less traveled by most motorists. Since your main target is to have lots of fun during your trip, diverting to smaller routes will allow you to view some interesting local scenery as well as interact with the locals along your way. The best thing about most roads, especially American roads, is that most of them have indicators that tell you whether the routes are scenic. Therefore, with just some time and patience, these routes can pay off handsomely in terms of giving you some stunning views of the beauty around you.
25. Rules of the Road
To enjoy your road trip to its maximum, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road. You can do this by finding tips and advice about the region you’re visiting from official tourism sites. Remember, each region or state has its own rules regarding the road networks so you have to be familiar with them to avoid any issues during your trip. You can also use apps such as Google Maps to familiarize yourself with the routes from the starting point to the final destination.
26. Book Ahead
The best thing about Google Maps is that it highlights interesting and fun places along your route where you can stop and have some fun. Now, some of these regions (such as Alcatraz and Chateau de Versailles) are booked months in advance. Therefore, before you even start your trip, think of booking early in advance to avoid any traffic. The same applies to specific hotels along your route, which you can book early in advance. These hotels can serve as your stopping spots during your trip.
27. Avoid Expensive Hotels
During your trip, avoid staying at expensive hotels as much as possible. Depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving, you can consider sleeping in your car in petrol stations and Walmart Stores instead of renting those expensive motels. In fact, one great way of enjoying your trip is camping in public campsites or RV campsites. This way, you not only save your money but you also get a chance to meet and interact with fellow travelers not forgetting the local people.
28. Eat Local Foods
During stops, it’s a great idea to taste a bit of everything especially if you don’t have any idea of what it is. Eating street foods saves you some money during your travel and it also adds to those things you’ll remember when you’re back home. Always ask the locals for recommendations and don’t be scared of the food. After all, eating the same foods you’re used to doesn’t create an exciting moment as you’ll always feel like you’re still at home.
29. Travel Mate
A road trip is not like a short drive to the mall. It involves driving for long hours in unfamiliar territories. Since your main target is to have fun, you need to find the right travel mates with whom you share the same temperament. So, if you’re interested in viewing the local scenery and interacting with new people from different diversities, you need to find friends with whom you share similar interests. Otherwise, if your friends are interested in finding the next five-star hotel or the nearest bar, then there will be friction during your trip, which will generally break your friendship.
30. Always Break From Your Comfort Zone
Getting out of your comfort zone is another tip that can make your road trip exciting. This involves diverting to smaller roads that offer scenic views of the landscapes alongside other natural amenities that might excite you during your trip. Just as we mentioned earlier, when driving in such routes, you need to interact with the locals and always listen to their advice. You can also try out some of the local desserts along the way just to ensure that your trip feels different and more entertaining.
31. Keep an Open Mind
During your trip, you need to be sensible and always open to positive criticism. Since you’re likely to meet new people with different lifestyles and customs from your own, always practice embracing their opinions, judgments, customs, and interests. Although you can’t agree with everyone about everything, practicing some empathy is one way of forging a friendship with the locals and learning more about their way of life.
32. Always Drive Early Mornings
There’s always something special about driving early mornings and parking early in the evening. The first advantage of driving and parking early is the fact that you’re able to beat the traffic during the rush-hours. This, therefore, means that you’re more likely to get to your next destination on time. The second advantage of driving early is that you’ll have the chance to view the best attractions along your route before these areas get crowded with tourists. Finally, the morning sun provides an amazing magical time of taking photos.
33. Have a Cooler Bag Around
If you’re in a strict diet, you don’t have to rely on roadside restaurants as most of them are only limited to fast foods. Instead, you can decide to cook your food back at home then pack it in a cooler bag or a portable fridge. This way, you can pack a well-balanced-diet meal comprising of vegetables, fruits, protein food, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Since you’re not certain when you’ll eat your next meal, having some packed food with you can help out when you’re hungry.-
34. Stay Hydrated
Since you’ll be driving for long hours, you should stay hydrated at all times to avoid feeling sluggish and fatigued. You can decide to pack several liters of water or drink coffee during your trip.
35. Chew Gum
Apart from being hydrated, you can decide to chew gums to boost your concentration while on the wheel. If you’re not a fan of chewing, you can opt to use energizing scents such as peppermint scent in your car to boost your energy and mental alertness while driving. Although we had mentioned about adjusting your seat, sitting upright while driving can help to improve blood circulation and prevent you from feeling dizzy.
36. Plan Your Stops
Something else that will make your road trip exciting is planning your stops carefully. Since your trip is likely to lengthy and very tiring, you’ll need to pause after every 2 – 3 hours to stretch your legs, eat your meals and drink some refreshments to hydrate your body before proceeding with your journey.
37. Don’t Over Plan; Just be Flexible
If you want your trip to be fruitful, you don’t have to over-plan or to be over-ambitious. All you need to do is pick a starting point, an ending point, and a few activities to do during your trip. Anything else, such as how long you’ll expect to spend on your trip should be left out to the universe to determine. Always be flexible and open to changes in case something comes up during your trip.
38. Don’t Over Speed
Since you’re not racing, picking speed and sticking to it is one way you can enjoy your road trip to the maximum. Remember, driving at a high speed then accelerating and decelerating rapidly can hurt your fuel economy especially if you had calculated your fuel cost before the trip.
39. Eat Light Foods
If you eat heavy meals during your trip, a lot of things are likely to happen inside you, some of which aren’t too conducive especially if you’re on the wheel. For instance, taking high-calorie meals can lead to the production of high glucose that triggers the release of a particular amino acid (tryptophan) which promotes sleep. If this happens, then you’re likely to feel dizzy, which is not something you’ll want to happen.
40. If it Catches Your Eyes, Then Stop By
When driving, you’re likely to see lots of things some of which are rewarding experiences. If this happens, don’t just ignore them simply because you’re in a tight schedule. Always spare some time to enjoy the experience. After all, you cannot tell whether you’ll have the opportunity to see them again.
41. Stay Entertained
It’s said that music is the food for the soul. Therefore, to give life to your long road trip, you can load your Smartphone with a personal playlist or a DJ mix. You can even decide to listen to the radio during your trip.
42. Get an Audiobook
If you’re not a fan of music, then you can turn to an audiobook instead to stay entertained during your long drive. Unlike music, audiobooks can help to keep your mind active without distracting you. All you need is an action or humorous audiobook to keep you at the edge of the seat while driving.
43. Get Off the Path
Sometimes, you don’t have to stick to your usual driving routine. There are times when you can decide to get off the path a little bit and visit unusual places where there are fewer tourism activities. According to most travelers, visiting such unusual places usually create memorable experiences. However, you need to be careful, as there are areas that can be dangerous at times.
44. Division of Labor
Since you’ll be driving as a team, dividing duties among yourselves is something that can make your trip even more enjoyable. Some of you may be good at driving, others are good at navigating (such as reading maps) while others may be experts in planning meals and daily activities.
45. Volunteer Occasionally
During your drive, it’s good to volunteer occasionally as this results in some rewarding experience. Although you don’t get anything in return, interacting with the locals and making new friends can help you a lot in learning more about the region.
46. Take Lots of Photos
This is one of the must-do activities you simply can’t fail to accomplish during your long road trip. Taking plenty of photos serves as an ultimate souvenir while still creating some lasting memories of your trip. Remember, some of the spectacular sceneries you’ll see during your trip are likely to appear once in your lifetime. Therefore, taking lots of photos can help, and at the same time, they can tell a story.
47. Backup Your Photos
After taking lots of epic photos, it’s always wise to back them up to prevent any loss in case you lose your camera, Smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Just as we’ve mentioned in our previous point, the photos you take during your trip are very special since some of the experiences may not appear ever again in your life. So, to avoid such huge losses, always back them up in an external hard drive or cloud storage. You can also back up some of your documents such as your passport, birth certificate, health insurance, and serial numbers just to be on the safe side.
48. Always Communicate With Your Loved Ones
Even if you’re meeting new people along the way, always keep close contact with your friends and family members. You can do this by surprising your parents with beautiful photos of the morning sunrise or sunset in the various landscapes you’re traversing through. This way, your loved ones will have some peace of mind knowing that you’re having a great time.
49. Download Games
In case you’re driving with kids around, you can try to download some addictive games in your Smartphones, tablets, or gaming consoles just to keep them entertained during the long drive.
50. Watch Movies
This is another great way of keeping your kids entertained while driving. With the advancement in technology, you don’t have to pack an entire Blu-ray DVD. Instead, you only need to stream movies and TV shows via Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
So, there you have it. In case you’ve been struggling on your road trip, then we’ve compelled some expert tips that can prove helpful while you’re in the wild. One thing we will insist on though is that never compromise on safety during your trip. Avoid driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs, driving while tired and dizzy, and finally, driving while chatting with your Smartphone.
Finally, avoid driving alone especially if you’re a beginner driver. That’s because, in case an emergency finds you in a dead zone where there’s nothing nearly (such as gas stations, malls, roadside restaurants, and homes), then it can be very risky. In conclusion, if you’ve read this guide to the latter, then there’s nothing that can prevent you from having fun with an enjoyable company.
02. 10 (and a Half) Tips for Road Trips – SMARTERTRAVEL