Preparing for a Road Trip: Tips and Tricks from a Pro

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1. Begin with a clean car, and keep it that way.

There is nothing better than embarking on a road trip with a fresh, clean vehicle. Inevitably, straw wrappers will find their way onto the floor and tissues will get stuffed into cup holders along the way. Every time you pull over, make it a point to empty the trash out of the vehicle. This will keep your space tidier and less cluttered along the way.

2. Prepare your vehicle.

A week or two before vacation, take your vehicle in to a dealership or repair shop for a quick tune up. Ask them to identify any problem areas that could cause issues on your trip. Be sure to top off liquids, add emergency supplies to your vehicle, and perform maintenance tasks prior to taking off.

3. Create a plan.

Though adventure is fun, nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find a hotel when you are exhausted at 11 o’clock at night. Create a plan and make reservations before embarking on your journey. While some things are best left impromptu, sleeping arrangements and advanced ticketing are best left planned.

4. Go off the beaten path, but make it worth it.

Exploring the path less taken is an exciting adventure. Be sure to get off the main roads and take in the views of less popular routes. Look up planned roads ahead of time to avoid any tourist traps, road construction, or current detours.

5. Have an exit plan for country roads that are less than desirable.

Despite an appetite for adventure, some routes don’t go as planned. A reduced speed limit, congestion, or unsafe road may force you to find a new route. Have an escape plan in place for these situations.

6. Plan for trouble.

Anticipate areas and times that may cause delays on your trip. Try to avoid big cities during rush hour and areas that are hosting events at a time you will be traveling through. If you can’t avoid doing so, plan for a fun activity that involves a stop in that area.

7. Prepare your phone with entertainment.

On a road trip, you never know when you will have a break in radiofrequency. While you can purchase apps to stream directly to your vehicle, preparing your phone in advance can be helpful, too. Put all your favorite tunes, games, and videos on your phone while you still have access to WiFi. At least if you break down, you can bingewatch your favorite TV show, right?

8. Divide tasks among everyone.

Some people are good at map-reading, while others couldn’t do it to save their life. Break up tasks that correlate to the strengths of passengers. Divide up responsibilities, too. No one wants to go on a road trip where they are doing all the planning.

9. Invest in roadside assistance.

Even if you don’t normally pay for an interactive rescue service or roadside assistance, it’s a good idea to purchase a subscription, at least while you are traveling.

10. Bring along important documents, and stay out of trouble.

Having fun doesn’t mean you have to get a speeding ticket or parking citation. Make sure to bring along important documentation, which will be extremely useful in the event of an emergency. Be sure not to leave important documents in your vehicle overnight.

10 1/2. Know when to turn it in for the day.

Nothing is more dangerous than traveling when you are exhausted. If your body is telling you to stop for the day, listen. Sometimes the best times are had when you slow down.