The Essential Checklist for a Road Trip

Road trips are a great way to explore a country, escaping from the confines of a city landscape and venturing into the great outdoors, experiencing nature first hand, having adventures and enjoying the company of your partner or family. However, it’s imperative to plan properly for a road trip, in order to ensure that it all goes as smoothly as possible.

 How and what to plan

A road trip is an economical way to spend a vacation, providing you work out a budget for it. Once you have decided on the route you’re going to take, start looking at accommodations. Use the internet and comparison sites to find the best deals on hotels and other types of short-term lodging, and always read reviews to find out if they’re suitable for you. If, however, you in intend on spending at least a few nights in a tent, consider whether it would be more cost-effective to rent the equipment or buy it outright.

Once you’ve booked your accommodations, work out how much fuel you will use, not only for reaching to your destination, but also for the way back home. You’ll also need to establish a budget for food and drink. Will you always be eating out, or are you planning to cook some of your own meals? If you’re leaning towards the latter, you can equate your ‘on-the-road’ budget to the amount you normally spend on your weekly grocery shopping.

You won’t just be driving the entire time, but you’ll also be stopping off at attractions along the way. Work out beforehand how much each highway toll and entry ticket to parks and other destinations will cost you. To keep costs down, establish whether there are free activities you can also enjoy. Remember to ensure that the itinerary has something for every member of the family to avoid boredom and family fights.

Time on the road will inevitably involve long periods when your family is doing nothing but sitting in the vehicle. If your family includes younger members, they’re likely to become easily bored. To help stave off their boredom, pack items that will keep them amused. A good way of keeping young children entertained is to provide them with in-car media, such as favorite movies for a portable DVD player, or music or audio books on a personal MP3 player. You can also maintain that the vehicle’s interior remains tidy by using a car organizer or a vehicle seat hanger.

Boredom can also induce hunger, so stock your vehicle with snacks and treats. Keep these healthy by swapping candy and potato chips for nuts and fruit, and water for fizzy drinks. Have a plastic bag handy for disposing garbage, and with children in mind, include a few vomit bags and spare toilet paper.

Nothing will spoil your road trip more than breaking down halfway through the journey. Therefore, have your vehicle fully serviced before you embark. Although if a garage service is too expensive, at least check that the tires have sufficient tread and pressure, top up all fluids, such as oil and water, and ensure that brake pads and exterior lights are working. Look over your insurance and registration paperwork to confirm it’s up-to-date, and if feasible, buy some roadside assistance for the duration of your trip. Make sure your spare tire is fit for purpose and that you have the tools necessary to change the tire, such as a jack and a hazard sign to protect you from other vehicles on the road. For passengers, pack an emergency kit that contains a first aid pack, a bottle of water, a flashlight, a blanket and a car charger, so that you can always use your cellphone to call for help.

Driving can be a very tiring activity, so remember to stop the car and stretch your legs at frequent intervals. You can even plan out these rest stops by establishing locations of service stations and factoring these into your trip. If both you and your partner drive, agree to share the time behind the wheel in order to avoid fatigue and accidents. Lastly, while most places accept credit cards, it’s always advisable to keep a little cash on hand for emergencies.

A road trip can be one of your best and most economical vacations ever, providing you take the time to plan ahead. Essentially, this means making sensible choices about your stops and ensuring your vehicle is up to the job of getting you where you want to be.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Marc: Some other comments on road trips. First – look for out of the way museums in small towns. We still remember many we have stopped at and I do not think any have been bad. Rest stops on freeways are also great – no cost but can run around if you have children. Dad

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