Travel Tips: Road Trip Planner

On The Open Road

Don't Forget Your Driving Tunes

Road trips is my favorite way to travel, great time with friends and family, sight seeing, and saving money on airfare!

I’ve been on lots of road trips so I figured I could share my personal road trip checklist with you.  It will make planning your road trip exciting rather than a huge headache!

Start Planning

Do you know where you want to go?  Have you already scheduled time off from work?  Do you know what kind of weather you’re coming into?  These are all things that you need to make sure you know before you plan to go on a road trip.

Before you get too carried away with your plans, sit down and discuss the following things:

  • Where are you going? You may not have any place in mind and that’s fine. Some people decide to drive wherever the road takes them. If this isn’t what you have in mind, then you need to pick a destination!
  • What vehicle are you taking? There are some options here. 1) You can drive your own vehicle. And 2) Rent a Vehicle. If you’re renting, Consider how much luggage you’re bringing and how much space you want. RV’s are the perfect choice if you’ve got a big group!
  • Do you have time scheduled off? All vacations have to be planned, even through work. Make sure that before you get too carried away with your vacation planning, you work it over with your boss.
  • How’s the weather? Check weather forecasts for the areas you plan on driving through. You don’t want to drive through rain, snow, or hail.

Time to Hit the Road

You’ve made all your plans and preparations, so now it’s time to hit the road! Before you lock the front door and jump in the car, go over this brief checklist to make sure you’ve got everything you need.

Check Your Car

  • Routine Vehicle Maintenance:Before you even pull out of the garage, you should do a quick check over your vehicle. Make sure everything is looking normal before you hit the road.
  • Full Gas Tank: You don’t want to immediately be making stops after only an hour of driving. Before you get on the interstate where civilization is obsolete, fill your tank! It won’t take that long, I promise!
  • Spare Tire: Flat tires can happen, don’t be stuck without a spare. A spare tire will give you reassurance that if a flat does happen, you’re ready and prepared. Just a note, a donut tire is not a spare tire and should not be driven on for an extended period of time.
  • Fix-A-Flat: You can never be too prepared. You can use a can Fix-A-Flat to repair your flat tire if you’re unable to bring a spare tire with you. You can fix your flat at your next rest stop to avoid buying a new tire. It’s a pretty easy process, just follow the directions on the can!

Important Papers

  • Directions: Bring a map or a GPS unit to avoid getting lost. I recommend getting a GPS unit if you don’t already have one. They are especially useful in cities you’re not well acquainted with to help you locate hotels, gas stations, restaurants, etc.
  • Credit Card: If you have a credit card, you should bring it with you. If you need to rent a vehicle, they’re going to need your credit card to do a credit check.
  • Checkbook: You should always keep a checkbook in your car. Consider it a cushion if you don’t have enough cash.
  • Cash: Not all places accept checks and credit cards. Because of this, you should bring at least 500 dollars cash for that “just in case” scenario.
  • Reservation Information: Bring all paperwork for hotel reservations. If you’ve purchased tickets for attractions, make sure you bring both the tickets, and copies of receipts to avoid any confusion.

Comforts From Home

  • Cell Phone: A cell phone is definitely an important item to bring. There are rest stops every few miles on the interstate, but things can happen. If your car died and you’re 10 miles away from the next rest stop, at least you’ll be able to call a tow-truck company to have someone come get you.
  • Laptop: Your laptop will be useful in a few different ways. When you arrive at your hotel, you can check information like e-mails (personal or work related) and bank account information.You can also check local weather and news on your laptop.
  • CD’s: If you’re going to be in the car for hours, you should at least have music. Bring at least 5 different CD’s that you love, preferably different music genres. You may not feel like listening to a certain style so give yourself a variety.
  • Pillows: Bring some creature comforts to the road, but only let the passengers use them. This is perfect if you’re driving non-stop and switching drivers. At least you’ll be able to rest more comfortably.
  • Camera: You’re going to want pictures from your road trip so make sure you bring your camera. Take pictures of your travels for the scrapbooks, for family to see back home, and for you to remember your trip!

What to Pack

  • Ample Clothing: When you’re on a road trip, you don’t have a wash machine at your dispense, so keep that in mind when packing. No one wants to be stuck in a car with someone wearing 5 day old clothes. Also make sure that your clothing suits the locations you plan on driving to or through. You don’t want to wear shorts in 40 degree weather.
  • Toiletries Bag: This is an important one! Make sure you include deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, contacts and glasses if necessary, razor and shaving cream, feminine products, make-up, and anything else you use on a daily basis.
  • Sunglasses: The sun always seems brighter when you’re driving. The sunlight glares off of the road and right into your eyes. To prevent your eyes from being strained, pack a pair of sunglasses. You’ll thank me later!
  • Hiking Boots: While you’re driving, you’re bound to pass areas which might be fun to explore. Make sure you bring hiking boots if you what to check out the local scenery.
  • Medicine and First-Aid Kit: Set aside a large ziploc bag and fill it with a variety of medicines. Cough drops, Tylenol, Pepto-Bismal, and cold medicine are all good things to include. Combined with a general First-Aid Kit, you’ll be ready for almost any ailment!

Pack Some Snacks

  • Cooler: A cooler is perfect if you plan on bringing drinks or refrigerated items. Ice packs will keep things cold so make sure you have a few before you leave. When you stay at a hotel, you can freeze your ice packs so they’ll be cold for your next day of driving.
  • Sandwiches: Bringing sandwiches will keep you from making frequent snack stops. They’re easy, cheap, and convenient. Best part is that sandwiches aren’t messy! The driver can easily enjoy a sandwich without getting it all over the interior of your vehicle.
  • Individual Snack Packs: Individual snacks are easiest for car trips because there’s less chance for mess and fuss. Potato chips, Chex Mix, granola bars, or fruit snacks. Pick whatever you and your travelers like and enjoy!

Image: Paul /