Now that you've given your car a summer check-up, you're almost ready to hit the road. Still, it's a good idea to make a few other preparations before you go.
Going where the wind takes you is nice, but it may make your trip more expensive. You don't want to get stuck paying for a hotel without comparing prices in advance or having to buy certain items while on the road because you forgot to bring them with you.
To keep your road trip budget-friendly, consider taking these steps before you get going:
Figure Out Your Route
Before you get in the car, be sure to take a careful look at your maps. Decide roughly where you want to visit, and choose when and where you want to stop for the night. Then be sure that both the navigator and the driver have some understanding of the route.
Not booking lodgings or tickets to tours in advance can mean paying more. Once you have some idea of where you want to go, make some reservations in order to avoid paying a premium for last-minute bookings.
Set Your Limits
To prevent road trip burnout, try deciding in advance how much traveling you want to pack into your schedule. To keep the trip manageable, consider how many stops you think you'll have time and energy for, on a daily basis and during the entire trip.
If you're driving with other people, be sure to consult them about the itinerary. Road trips are a team effort, and if some members of your group aren't feeling included, it can feel like a long trip for everyone.
As you plan, be sure to leave some leeway, in case you end up making some spontaneous plans while on the road. You never know what kinds of exciting places you might stumble upon!
Have Backup Plans
Thinking of some contingency plans ahead of time can also be helpful. That way, if something ends up falling through, you can avoid having to scramble to find something interesting to do.
As you decide what to bring with you, remember to think practically. For instance, in most cases, you won't need your best pair of shoes. Instead, pick things that are versatile and portable.
Some travelers recommend not packing a different outfit for each day, instead pointing out that, if you run out of clothing, you can just find a laundromat.
Many travel guides recommend carrying your clothing in duffel bags, which are often easier to stow, given that they aren't rigid like rolling bags are.
Find the Right Tools for Finding Your Way
GPS is a very useful tool for travelers. With its ability to guide drivers, it can make navigating significantly easier. Still, many travelers recommend also having a paper copy of a map or road atlas.
Using a paper copy of a map may sound old-fashioned but, in reality, it's a good way to get familiar with the area you're driving through. They often also have points of interest and natural features indicated. It's also a handy backup resource, in case your GPS loses signal or runs out of battery.
Whether you're using GPS or a physical map, make sure that your maps are up-to-date. Like physical maps, the maps on GPS devices may need to be replaced every few years in order to remain relevant for travelers.
It's always a good idea to have a spare tire in your car, especially while on road trips. Be sure to also bring the other supplies for changing a tire, especially the jack and the wrench. You may also want to bring something to kneel on.
Having a spare car key on hand is also recommended. That way you can avoid having to find a locksmith while stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Keep An Emergency Kit
In addition to the spare keys and tires, there are some other crucial items to have ready in case of an emergency. Here are some such items - be sure to adjust your emergency kit to include any specific things that someone in the group needs:
- Flashlight (with functional batteries)
- First-aid supplies - bandages, aspirin, gauze, antiseptic cream, any specific supplies your group may need
- Duct tape
- Jumper cables
- Rain poncho
- Roll of paper towels
- Utility knife
- Tire gauge
- Granola bars and other nonperishable snacks
- Bug repellent
- List of emergency numbers
- Trash bags
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper
- Disinfecting wipes