Road trips can be a soul-nourishing break from your routine, an opportunity to have me-time, spend quality time with your significant other, or create some unforgettably fun and exciting family memories and stories. Wherever you are in life, a road trip may be just what you need.
We’ll share general preparation tips from budgeting to evaluating your car insurance coverage. We’ll even share a list of roadside assistance companies. And then, we’ll offer suggestions for the best activities based on the type of traveler you are.
1. Road Trip Prep
Good preparation can make your road trip a success, so be sure to include the following categories on your checklist.
Plan Your Budget
A good road trip takes some planning, and the best place to start is with a budget. Don’t look at your budget as something to hold you back. Instead, consider it a game to save where possible and make the things you want to do fit.
You’ll need to plan for basic expenses like fuel, lodging, and food, but you’ll also need to budget for special activities like museums, tours, boat rides, and whatever else you’d like to do that’s unique to your route.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Before you take a road trip, review your insurance policy. Ensure you have the coverage you need and consider adding roadside assistance if you don’t already have it.
The following are among the top companies to consider for roadside assistance:
- State Farm
If you’re already insured by one of these companies, you can quickly add roadside assistance to your current policy. You may also want to consider purchasing emergency coverage from an independent provider like AARP, Good Sam, or Paragon Motor Club.
Conduct Vehicle Maintenance
Since having a car is the fundamental necessity of a road trip, you’re going to need to make sure it’s ready to go and dependable.
Get an oil change if you’re close to being due. Check your tire pressure and tread. Fill your windshield wiper fluid. Examine your battery. And make sure your brakes are in good condition.
2. Road Trips for Solo Travelers
When you travel alone, you have the freedom to change your plans when you wish and do exactly what you want. However, there are some things to keep in mind.
Set a Trip Theme
You might enjoy planning your trip around a theme. For example, you could choose your stops based on hikes you want to take along your route, or you might want to consider a waterfall tour where you focus on scenic falls. Perhaps you’d be interested in a whiskey tour or maybe even an art journey.
Wherever your interest lies, try making that a focus for your research and planning.
Make a Safety Plan
Because you won’t have someone along to keep an eye out for you, you’ll have to be extra vigilant on your own. Investigate crime reports for urban areas where you plan to stay so that you can avoid dangerous neighborhoods, especially at night.
Call or text to check in with a friend or family throughout your day so they know where you are and what your plans are.
When you book your lodging, stick to establishments that you’ve heard of or that get good reviews from other travelers.
3. Road Trips for Couples
You and your partner will have excellent opportunities to communicate as you hit the road together. You may enjoy just talking and having uninterrupted conversations, but you can also have some backup activities ready.
Pack On-the-Road Entertainment
Download some podcasts, audiobooks, and music playlists so you can switch things up as you go. Scan the local radio stations to get some insight into the culture. For example, you’ll catch a lot more country music stations in the south than you would in the northeast.
While snacks might not be considered entertainment, they can help the driver stay alert, so be sure to pack a variety of food choices.
Schedule Couples-Focused Activities
Often, one partner is more apt to do the trip planning than the other. If you’re the planner, be sure to remember your partner’s interests. You and your partner will have more fun if you participate in activities that you both enjoy.
You might want to book a couple’s massage, participate in a cooking class, take a scenic ski lift, or attend a theater performance. You’ll strengthen your bond when you relax, learn, and experience new things together.
Try to spend time outdoors each day because good things happen to your body in nature. The sunshine is good for your mood, and the fresh air increases energy levels.
Road Trips for Families
When you have your kids with you, you’ll have less room for spontaneity but even more capacity for fun. It’s a good idea to plan out what major landmarks and attractions to visit ahead of time.
Provide Car Ride Distractions
Perhaps you’re already dreading the “How much longer?” question that you’re bound to hear every five minutes. Activities for the trip will keep your kids occupied, so they’ll forget how bored they think they are.
Several old standby car games are fun to play, even if you’ve played them a million times before. For example, try to find all the state license plates, search for each letter of the alphabet, and play I-spy to pass the time.
You might want to pack a notebook and writing utensils for each child, so they can write or doodle. Another good way to pass the time is to listen to music.
Plan Family-Friendly Activities
Before you plan an activity, make sure that each of your children can participate, or you’ll have some devastated kids. For example, if you play up the great time you’ll have snow tubing, and when you arrive it turns out your youngest child is too short to participate, you can’t fault your little one for crying.
Large children’s museums are usually designed with a wide range of ages in mind, so they’re a good destination if you have multiple children. Not only are children’s museums fun, but they also encourage your big kids all the way down to your toddlers to learn.
Other places that are good for the whole family include aquariums and zoos.
If you plan to visit a national park, be sure to ask about their junior ranger program. Each park has its own booklets and activities, and if your kids complete what’s required, they will earn a junior ranger badge.
With some solid preparation, you’ll set yourself up for the road trip of a lifetime, whether you travel alone or with your family.