Travel Tips: How To Take The Perfect Road Trip
So you want to take a classic road trip. Of course, you do. Road trips are the best! But before you hop in your car and go, what should you know first? Keep reading for five tips to take the perfect road trip.
1. Plan Well
I know what you have in your head. You want to throw a few clothes in the car and head out, with no planning, on a great road trip. You want to fly by the seat of pants and go wherever the wind takes you, Jack Kerouac style. That's a horrible idea. To be clear, I'm not saying that you should plan out every last detail and every single stop. But you should plan something, and you should plan it well. Unless you have unlimited time and money, the idea of a great wandering road trip is a pipe dream. What will actually happen is you'll find something you want to do and then realize you're several hundred miles from it and end up driving aimlessly, while seeing nothing.
Again, I don't think you should plan everything out, but at the very least you should have an ultimate destination and a general timeframe that you want to arrive. Once you have that decided, you'll know if you have time to get off the highway and see the worlds largest yarn ball that you just saw a billboard for. When we road tripped the southwest, we knew our ultimate goal was the Grand Canyon and that we needed to make it there in five days. Having that one detail planned allowed us to divert and change as we saw fit. Having the destination decided upon though gave us a specific goal and structure to the trip.
2. Be Flexible
You might think this goes counter to point number on. But I didn't say you should plan everything, just the destination. Part of the fun of a road trip is driving through the states and seeing the terrain firsthand. Along the way, you'll see tons of things that might interest you or your car mates. You'll miss out on some great opportunities if you're overly locked into a planned schedule. So be flexible. Allow everyone in the car to have a voice and a chance to do things that interest them. You might not want to see the worlds largest rocking chair or a car made entirely out of matchsticks, but if someone else does, pull over and soldier through. They'll be doing the same for you later.
3. Get Local Help
No matter how much research you do, nothing beats the help of a local. Depending on your location, some companies will guide you based on their local viewpoint. Airbnb is great for this because your host can point you in the right direction. Airbnb also has activities you can sign up for, like tours and cooking classes run by locals.
On our PNW trip, we enlisted the experience of Rainshadow Escapes. They specialize in creating unique road trip and hiking itineraries in Washington State. These guys were a lifesaver. The first part of our trip was a van road trip through Olympic National Park. Rainshadow laid everything out for us. They set up our campgrounds, picked our hikes and made sure we had showers every day. All of this info was in a PDF that they provided for us. We saw sights and camped in places we would never have known about, without their advice. The restaurants they suggested were tasty as well. If you're roadtripping the PNW, shoot them an email. If your trip is taking you somewhere else, research your options so you can see the area as a local would.
4. Double Check The Car
Nothing will ruin a road trip faster than being broke down on the side of the road. So get your oil changed and have a mechanic give your car a once over before you head out. Check the tires and make sure you have a spare. Bringing along jumper cables and fix-a-flat is a good idea as well. Consider renting a car if you're not sure if your vehicle can make the trip. The peace of mind and saved miles might be worth the extra expense.
5. Music And Snacks
If you don't sing at the top of your lungs to "Tiny Dancer" or "Don't Stop Believin" was it really a road trip? If you don't stuff your face full of artery clogging, life-threatening gas station snacks, was it even worth the trouble? Of course not. As essential as the sites you see, music and snacks are the lifeblood of a road trip. Stock up on Twizzlers, Reses Pieces and Flaming Hot Cheetos at every gas stop. Make sure to download music to your phone in case you lose cell signal. A silent, hungry road trip is no way to live life.
Road trips are so much fun. It's a freeing experience to hit the road and happen upon something amazing. We're hoping to do two road trips next year. We want to hit up Alaska and Ireland. What about you? Do you like road trips? What are some tips you have to make them more enjoyable? Answer below in the comments.