Before you start your road trip, read our simple, money saving tips. Pack and prepare the essentials for an enjoyable drive!
Memorial Day weekend and beautiful weather are upon us and many of us are scrambling to plan the perfect road trip with friends, family, or even by ourselves. While spontaneity is the spice of life, strategy is the foundation. A successful road trip doesn’t need to have a written itinerary for every hour of everyday, but just a dash of mapping, budgeting, and packing. Whether you’re going cross country or just one state over, you’ll want to start with the tips below.
- Clean up, Clean up Everybody do their share. Even if you don’t have children going with you on this road trip, Barney’s lessons can be taken to heart by anyone. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in your car and it’ll certainly be more comfortable if it’s clean. Before your trip you should throw out all trash (food wrappers, old receipts, etc.), vacuum the floor and seats, clean the windows inside and out, and make room in the trunk for your luggage and gear. Stay on top of the litter throughout your road trip as well. Go through your interior at least once a day to clear out accumulated clutter. It’d be convenient to bring along small trash bags for trash and recyclables.
- Divide and conquer Unless you’re traveling alone, every passenger should help out along the way. Divvy up tasks based on talent. For example, one of your passengers is really good at reading a map/GPS and can stay calm in stressful situations. Your other passenger is terrible at that, but has a knack for finding good places to eat. Long trips are stressful enough for the driver, so having a managed crew is the key to success.
- Take breaks Driving even just a short distance can be stressful and tiring for some. Road trips require many hours and miles, so it’s important to take breaks or switch drivers before you feel spent. Pay attention to when you think road rage might be getting to best of you so that you can pull over and cool off. You should also be aware of who’s insured under your insurance policy and consider getting short term coverage if they aren’t.
- Make a budget You worked hard to save money for this trip, so don’t blow it all on trivial things, like souvenirs, simply because they’re unique and exciting. Before you leave, set a daily spending goal for yourself that includes expenses such as food, overnight stays in parks or hotels, and unexpected mishaps like a flat tire. This way you won’t have to cut your trip short and you may even be able to extend it!
- Pack Amenities If you’re going to be on the road for a while, consider making your car feel a little more like home. If you’re a fan of glamping (like myself) or just want to keep the kids at ease, pack items like:
Are you not entertained? If the back seat of your car sounds like an angry mob, maybe the movies and activity books you packed just aren’t cutting it. In this case, it may be a good idea to revert back to good old fashion car games. Car game apps do exist, but you could also try these more traditional, tech-free games:
- Throw blankets
- Comfortable clothes and socks/slippers
- Coloring and activity books
- Snacking tote for snacks and drinks (like cheese sticks, clementines, crackers, reusable water bottles, etc.)
- Satellite radio subscription, AUX cord, or CDs for listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks
- Multi-way charger for phones, tablets, computers, etc.
- GPS (unless you want to go old school with a map)
- Movies (if you have a portable DVD player)
- First aid kit
- Air fresheners
- Travel sized toiletries like baby wipes, hand sanitizer, breath freshening strips, etc.
- Motion sickness cures like ginger candy or over the counter tablets
Be prepared for emergencies Traveling far from home puts you in a lot of odd situations that you don’t normally have to deal with in your day to day life. Therefore it’s smart to be proactive before going on a road trip. If you can, take your car to the mechanic for a quick check up before your trip. This way you’ll be able to catch some problems that could later turn into big problems. Also consider purchasing roadside assistance service either from your insurance provider or a club like AAA. Right before the trip, make sure you pack an emergency roadside assistance kit with things like a jump starter kit or tire sealant. You should have all your documents, like your insurance card, license, and registration, in order and in the glovebox. You should also plan your route so that you aren’t traveling busy roads during rush hour. There are a number of apps that can help you navigate traffic and find the nearest gas station or parking area.Life is a highway While getting to your destination as quickly as possible is appealing for those who hate to be confined to their car, remember that you’re on vacation and traveling through places you may have never seen before or will see again. Take the time to take the backroads once in awhile. Research fun attractions, strange oddities, or must-eat places along your route. You could use the time away from the car to stretch and have a few mini-vacations along the way.
- Truth or dare
- Two truths and a lie
- 20 questions
- Battle of the bands, pick one judge who will pick a round category such as a theme or artist (for example, “love songs”). Each player has one minutes to select a song from their smartphone, CD, mp3, etc. to play for the judge. The judge will pick the winning song.
- While you were sleeping, if someone falls asleep on the trip, the remaining passengers take turns creating a story line by line. Once the sleeping passenger wakes up, the story tellers must try to convince them that it truly happened while they were asleep.