driving at dusk

How to Make Your Next Road Trip the Greatest One Ever

There’s nothing quite like a road trip. No wonder films, music, and books cannot stop romanticizing life on the open road for a unique freedom that comes with road trip travel, something you can’t get in any other form of exploring. You have the power to stop whenever you want, for as long as you want. You have complete control—you can change your direction halfway through the trip, you can drive in circles if the sunset is just too beautiful and you don’t want to stop looking at it.

This being said, many people are nervous about embarking on a road trip of their own. There’s a lot to consider and prepare for. There’s a lot that could go wrong. It’s hard to know which direction to set off in as there are countless places you could go to. The following will explore the things that you can do to help ensure that your next road trip (or your first road trip) will create stunning and lasting memories. Make sure that whoever you are planning on going with has also taken the time to think over the following things.

Think About Purpose

This is a big one. Especially if you are going to be traveling with other people. You want to make sure that everyone is on the same page in regard to the goals of the trip. Sometimes a road trip evolves from the need of getting to a particular place at a particular time. Maybe you’re road tripping to the city you will be living in and you have a job that begins on a certain day. Maybe you want to visit a friend. Maybe you want to feel wild and free. Maybe you want to see the great cities of your country. Or, maybe you want to breathe in as much fresh air as possible. Perhaps you just want a week when your eyes aren’t glued to your phone screen.

Whatever your reasons, you need to make sure that everyone going on the trip agrees. Nothing can bring down the vibe of a road trip faster than one person wanting to take 10,000 selfies for their road trip social media page while another person wants to go bar hopping, while another wants to hike a mountain and meditate on the top. It’s also completely fine not to have a purpose in mind. Traveling is good for your health. Of course, if you don’t have a purpose, you need to be prepared for the possibility that the vibe of your trip will change drastically as the days pass. This too is more than okay.

Plan Your Route

Do a little research and figure out what things you want to see on the way. Even if you’re looking for a spontaneous adventure, it’s great to have a plan to fall back on if the cute dirt road you drove down doesn’t actually lead anywhere. Don’t only plan the sites you want to see, plan other stops as well. Figure out how long you and everyone else can go without a hot shower and the chance to wash your clothes. Will you be stopping to sleep in inns or hotels? Will you be camping? Will you take turns sleeping in the vehicle while others drive? How much food can you carry with you? How often will you need to stop for groceries or eating out?

Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Ready

If you will be driving your vehicle, a check-up might be in order. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with car troubles. You might decide to forgo the use of your vehicle and rent something for the trip. Affordable small RV rentals are not as tough to find as you might think. Of course, whatever vehicle you decide to use, make sure that anyone who will be driving is comfortable with the size and handling. If you’re taking a manual car and expecting your friends to share the driving load, you’d better check that they know how to drive manuals. If you’re taking something like an RV that is bigger than you normally drive, you want to make sure that you’re comfortable with parking.

Do The Math

Calculate how far you’ll be going and how much gas you’re going to need to get there, and then add at least 30% more and you’ll have a good idea of the gas requirements for your trip. When it comes to pit stops for coffee or bathroom breaks or stretching legs, you can estimate that for every hour of driving you will need twenty minutes pulled over somewhere. 

This won’t be used evenly (as in, literally stopping every hour for twenty minutes), but it does tend to be accurate as one stop will take forty minutes, and another will take an hour, and another will be only five minutes. You will need to budget even more time if you have many people with you. The twenty minutes per hour estimate suits trips of 1-3 people.

Expect Off Days

Bring one or two of those classic novels you never got around to reading. Bring a deck of cards. Bring a journal and many pens, writing while traveling can help you remember those quirky, whimsical moments in detail years later. It also is good for you and your mind. Bring a disposable camera, for when your phone is dead but the mountains are so stunning you don’t know what to do with yourself. Make ten more playlists than you think you need, with different genres and vibes. You might be surprised to find what you normally listen to doesn’t suit your surroundings. You want to be prepared for people getting sick of your music.

Remember, you’re not going to be able to be having a blast 100% of the time. You’re going to have to wait while your friend takes forty-five minutes waiting in line at a busy fast-food restaurant. You’re going to have those rainy hours when you’re sitting inside the vehicle twiddling your thumbs. If you expect these things to happen and bring items to cope with them ahead of time, you’re not going to be as bothered.

With the above tips in mind, you’re well on your way to having a memorable and breathtaking road trip. No road trip is the same and you can’t expect them to be either. The best thing you can do to ensure a wonderful trip is to keep yourself open to the possibilities.