Road trips always seem like a good idea! Honestly, who has ever not been pumped about just randomly taking a road trip. Even though this it is a pretty common experience to want to take a road trip somewhere, there are so many things that could go wrong.
There is definitely planning required for a successful road trip. You will want to decide on more than just who is bringing the Mountain Dew and Twizzlers (although you definitely should decide that at the very least).
You need to think about money, destinations, time, and other things that will determine your happiness on your road trip. A lot of the preplanning will help to avoid conflict once you are actually on your trip, and for anyone that has been in a car with a bunch of people arguing with each other, it is worth it to plan ahead.
So sit down with your friends, make some plans, and follow these tips for a successful road trip.
- Money. Unfortunately, much of life revolves around money. A road trip is no different. You need to plan ahead for how much money you will need for the trip so that you can save up. One of your biggest expenses on a road trip will be gas, so go ahead and figure out how much gas you will need on your trip.
You will also need to spend a decent amount of money on food. This can be done sparingly because you can bring a lot of your own food. You also need to budget out how much money you are going to spend on souvenirs. Make sure that you figure out your budget ahead of time so that you won’t come back with a huge deficit (Read: Travel on the Cheap with These 8 Thrifty Tips).
- Length. You will need to figure out the best time to go on your road trip. Also, how long are you going to be gone? Figuring out the length of your trip will definitely help you decide a lot of other things like destination and budget. For example, if your road trip is only a couple of days long, you might not have as much time for being spontaneous.
However, if your trip is going to last a couple of weeks, your destinations might not be as important to you as the actual journey. The amount of money you need will also depend on how long you’re gone. Be thinking about the time of year you want to go as well so that you get the most out of your destinations!
- Who. Who your travel companions are will make or break your trip. This is probably the most important factor in road trips. Who do you want to be stuck with in a car for hours on end? Make your decisions wisely because it could potentially ruin your trip.
You also need to consider the goals that all of you have for your road trip. For example, do you want to make a lot of stops? What if your buddies want to make it a straight shot with no stops? Be sure that you settle these kinds of things before you leave in order to avoid a lot of arguing in route.
- Adventures. Is this the type of road trip where you will go off on unexpected adventures or are you just trying to get somewhere and you can’t afford a plane ticket? This is definitely something you want to determine before you set out (Read: Top 10 U.S. Landmarks for Your Bucket List).
Adventures can be so fun, but only if everyone is on board. If some of your friends had no idea that adventures were a possibility then they might be frustrated by the random stops or the detours. Determine how many adventures you can have before you start your road trip so that you actually make it to your destinations. But remember, spontaneity is the food of life!
- Guide book. Guide books are a great secret, especially if you are going to a place that you have never been to. You will have everything you need to know about your trip in one handy little book. Can’t decide on a restaurant to go to? Check the guide book. Getting bored and need something to do but don’t know where to look? Check the guide book.
Be sure to invest in one of these before you leave so that you can be familiar with it before you arrive at your destination. Who knows, it could just make your entire trip!
- Plan Out Stops. Although most people are concerned with their final destination on a road trip, there can be some fun stops to make on the way. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these! However, you also might want to plan it out, mostly for the sake of time. When you are driving a long and you see a sign for a “scenic view” that only seems to be a couple of miles out of the way, be weary. It could take you far off of your route and delay your trip.
If you are not super concerned with time, this isn’t a big deal. But if you have certain time commitments then this could be a bump in the road instead of an added bonus. Try to figure out how much time you have for random stops before you leave in order to avoid any burdensome stops.
- Plan the Route. Although it can be fun to just wing it when it comes to road trips, it is good to at least have a plan (not saying you have to stick to it!). Figure out which roads are the best to take so that you won’t run into a ton of traffic. Also, check which route will be the most fun and conducive to random stops—even if it isn’t necessarily the quickest route! Because most of your fun will happen in route on a road trip, this is one of the more important parts of planning your road trip. Sit down with your friends and figure out exactly what you want to do while you are on the road.
- Food. Road trips can be a good time to explore new restaurants and try different cuisines. They can also be a really bad time to try new things. This is something you will want to research. If your route has a bunch of sketchy diners along the way, you might want to plan accordingly and bring your own food. However, if there are a lot of cool restaurants then budget well and check them out! Either way, be sure to bring snacks. Lots and lots of snacks.
- Games. Road trip games are the best! Thanks to the internet, there is a plethora of games that you can find to keep you entertained. Also, do play games! Don’t let each other stay on your phones the entire time, scrolling through Instagram and snapchatting everyone about how boring your road trip is. This is a great time to just have fun together and be silly so make sure you take advantage of it!
- Comfort. What are the factors which make road trips miserable? Jeans and tight fitting shirts. This is a time for lounging, not being a fashionista! Break out the sweatpants, the shorts, and the comfy T-shirts and you will be in for the most amazing trip of your life! Also, you will want to bring blankets and pillows because you will definitely get tired of all that driving at some point and be in desperate need of a nap. Instead of balling up your jacket, just plan ahead and throw your pillow in the trunk. You will have no regrets.
- Playlists. Thanks to smart phones and iPods making playlists is pretty easy. But it is good to think ahead and have a couple different playlists on hand. For example, you might need a morning playlist that is more chill—because who wants to listen to really intense music when you first wake up?
You also will definitely need a dance playlist with tons of fun songs for the hours you will be sitting in stop-and-go traffic — at least you will provide entertainment for the people in traffic with you. Try to make playlists that everyone in your car will agree with because otherwise the music will be drowned out by the sound of bickering. And that can definitely ruin a road trip (Read: 12 Songs to Turn a Frown Upside Down).