Road trips: how to do it right

Avoid some of the most common road trip mishaps with these top tips for making sure your journey goes as well as possible.

A good road trip can be an incredible experience. It’s a fantastic way to make memories and experience the country. However, they can easily go off the rails if they aren’t planned properly. Bad weather, getting lost, and running out of food or gas are all risks. If you want the best road trip possible, you should consider these simple tips.

Plan the journey (but be flexible)

We’ll get the obvious out of the way first: you should know where you’re going. You don’t want to just set off in a random direction! Instead, work out where your road trip is going to lead to, as well as important stops along the way. First of all, you will need to plan for where to stop each night, unless you want to sleep in the car. If you do, that’s fine, just make sure everyone else on the trip agrees!

It’s not just sleep, of course. You also need to think about where you’re going to eat and get fuel. The last thing you want is to be driving around with the tank nearly empty, desperately hoping to find a gas station. You’ll also want to think about when to stop for entertainment. While driving around can be fun, it will get dull if you aren’t stopping for hours.

It’s also worth leaving enough time to be flexible. You might see attractions by the road that you want to take a look at, or even just a cool roadside café to stop at for a coffee. You can’t do that if you’re on too tight a schedule, so leave an hour or two each day for unscheduled stops.

Be prepared for the worst

Your road trip will almost certainly be successful, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready for things to go wrong. You might be driving hundreds or even thousands of miles, which can be hard on your car. Just in case, you should make sure you’re prepared in case of a breakdown or accident.

Before setting off, make sure you have a spare, high-quality tire and you know how to change them in case of a flat. You should also bring: 

  • a tire iron
  • jumper cables
  • road flares

These will keep you prepared for common breakdown issues. You should also make sure you’ve topped up your oil, coolant and wiper fluid, and check all your lights before setting off.

Remember that if you break down, you could be stuck in a remote area. Bring spare food and water, as well as warm blankets. It’s also a good idea to bring a first aid kit, and familiarize yourself with how to use it. Hopefully you won’t need any of these things, but just in case, it’s better to have them.

Make it fun

You want to have the best possible time on your road trip, and sometimes that means planning parts of it out. For example, what are you going to listen to? Whether it’s music, podcasts or audiobooks, it’s good to make sure everyone on the journey agrees to what’s going to be on the radio. If you’re going to take it in turns to choose, make sure you agree on that beforehand to avoid arguments.

When you’re on the journey, try to give yourself the time to enjoy it. Stop at roadside attractions, give yourself a chance to see the sights and remember to relax. A good tip is to talk to locals to see what they think is worth visiting. They’ll be able to direct you to the best places to eat and drink while you’re there.

Finally, if you’re traveling with kids, make sure you give them plenty to do. They will need games and snacks to keep them entertained, otherwise the trip could get stressful. You’ll also need to plan for a lot more breaks than usual, so prepare for a stop every hour or so.

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