Road trips can be a great way to go on an affordable family vacation. It’s also a great way to enjoy your trip from the minute you leave your house – but only if you plan a road trip the right way. Here are my tops tips for how to plan a road trip.
How to Plan a Road Trip
Figure out timing
The appropriate timing of your road trip is essential – especially during busy times. It’s a bad idea to leave during rush hour, so a little planning can really improve your trip. Sometimes, it’s best to leave in the evening, but make sure that you feel comfortable driving late into the night. Remember that the Fridays before a holiday weekend can be extremely busy, and it’s sometimes better to leave the next morning.
On occasion, we’ve driven halfway to our destination at night, stayed at a hotel, and then continued our journey early in the morning. If it’s a long drive, that may be a good option.
Plan your route
Part of the fun of a road trip is the flexibility. Plan your trip so that you can stop along the way. Research your journey, and plan a road trip stop at a new restaurant, a fun museum, or another family-friendly tourist attraction. Check out the hours in advance so that you know exactly when to arrive. On our road trip back from Washington DC in 2015, we made sure to stop at Frank Pepe’s pizza in New Haven just before the lunch rush started. I’ve also used road trips as a great opportunity to stop at stores that we don’t have here in Massachusetts.
Prepare your car
If you are planning a long road trip, prepare your car in advance. Get a tune up, and make sure that your tires are appropriately inflated and that all fluids are topped off. You don’t want to have your car break down during your trip, and as a bonus, you may get better gas mileage with a tuned up vehicle.
Load up your phone
There are so many great phone apps that you can use when road tripping with your family. We have a list with our family road trip apps here. Remember to bring along a mobile charger so that your mobile phone won’t run out of power while you are on the road, and make sure that the passenger of the car handles all of the app checking. To avoid car sickness, take frequent breaks from the phone and look up.
Check the weather
Before you leave, check the weather all along your destination. If there is snow in the forecast, make sure that you feel comfortable driving in it, or change up your schedule or route a bit.
Plan road trip entertainment
Kids (and adults) can get really bored on the road. Plan for entertainment – whether it’s a DVD to play in your car’s DVD player, or road trip games. My kids love to bring along their electronic devices, but we always have to make sure that we have portable chargers as well.
Do you have any other tips to plan a road trip that I’ve missed? Read more road trip tips here.