There is nothing like the open road! Road trips are my favorite form of travel. There is really nothing better than piling a few friends or your family into a car and setting off on an adventure. My favorite travel experiences are all from road trips. As fun as road trips are, they can go wrong quickly if you don’t plan them well. Planning the perfect road trip is easy if you take the time to do it.
Planning the Perfect Road Trip
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Travel is really about shared experiences. The people you travel with are one of the most important aspects of any trip. Who are you taking with you? The perfect road trip requires the right people to enjoy it with. It is important that you know the people you travel with well. You are going to be spending a lot of time together in a tight space. Every little annoying habit someone has is amplified a million times over after about four hours in a car together. On the other hand, people whose company you enjoy will make a trip much easier. It is amazing how fast time goes by when you are laughing and singing, it makes 10 hours seem like nothing! So choose carefully, the people on your trip will make or break it.
Travel, and especially a road trip, is often used to celebrate or create change. It is important to know why you are traveling and what you want out of it. Are you just graduating from high school or college and celebrating your new found freedom, honeymooning, or are you just escaping from the grind? No matter why you are traveling, be aware of the reason and incorporate ways to acknowledge that into the trip. Do something romantic if you are honeymooning; something adventurous to celebrate; something restorative to escape. These are just ideas, the important thing is to be mindful of why you are traveling.
The perfect road trip should play out like a story, and every epic tale needs a destination. Frodo had to get to Mordor, and your traveling band has to get wherever you are going. Be it the Grand Canyon, a music festival, the beach, or some other amazing destination, having an endpoint guides your adventure. It gives you something to aim for, a goal to accomplish. There is nothing like the excitement of reaching your destination after hours or days on the road!
Your companions and destination are both incredibly important, but the perfect road trip requires the perfect vehicle. Smokey’s trip isn’t worth telling without his glorious Pontiac. Your road trip chariot should be big enough to hold your entire crew and their luggage and still have a little room to move around. It should be in good running order, and have good tires, fresh oil change, and any other maintenance items that need to be done completed. Nothing spoils a trip like breaking down. If your car isn’t big enough or reliable enough, a rental car may be the best choice. Be sure to check out Expedia.com for the best deals.
No road trip is complete without the right music. The perfect road trip has sing alongs, moments of quiet reflection where you just stare out the window and listen to a great song, and background music to keep out the road noise. Whatever your style of music, be sure you create a playlist ahead of time so you aren’t stuck trying to pick songs on the road. I like Spotify, and you can usually score a great deal on Spotify premium so you don’t have to run up your data while you are travelling. Amazon also has a great service called Amazon Music Unlimited. If you are already a Prime Memeber, or and Echo or Dot owner you can get a great deal on this service. You can also try Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Days for FREE! There are a lot of great music services out there though, check them out and see what fits your needs best.
Planning is important, but for the perfect road trip, be sure to leave room for adventure. All of the best experiences happen spontaneously. So, if you try to plan and manage every mile and minute of your trip, you are going to miss out on the best parts. Leave time for detours, explore the crazy roadside attractions. After all, when is the next opportunity you will have to see the World’s Largest Cedar Bucket, the World’s Largest Fork, or even Dinosaur World? Leave time for exploration.
Memories from a road trip are important. You should take pictures, video, keep a travel journal, and collect souvenirs, but don’t let the keeping of memories get in the way of making them. Try to avoid social media and focus on what is happening right there; be in the moment. You can check Facebook later. If you must share your pictures, try to do it at the end of the day when you are back at the hotel. Not only will this keep you from being distracted, your hotel probably has wifi and you won’t have to use your data.
Know your limits. If you have never taken a long drive before, it might not be ideal to start with a cross country trip. Make sure you make hotel reservations before you head out. Not having a place to stay when you are halfway across the country from home can be a bit of a bummer. When you can avoid chain restaurants and eat local. The food and atmosphere will be exceptionally better (most of the time). Make sure you set aside some emergency cash. Things happen, and cash goes a long way toward solving a lot of problems you might encounter on the road.
Road trips are as American as apple pie, and I think everyone should take one, or a few. Sure you can fly just about anywhere in the world in the time it takes to drive a few hundred miles. But, there is something special about taking in the scenery at driving speeds as you cruise toward your destination. Be sure to check out our Road Trip Gear post. In it, we will include everything we think you should bring with you on the road.