Road trips can be a lot of fun….. when you are prepared. According to AAA nearly 100 million Americans will be taking a vacation this year. That is nearly 4 out of every 10 adults will be going somewhere this year. A little over half of them (53 percent) will be packing up the cars and hitting the highways of the US and making a road trip a part of their vacation plans.
Whether it’s along the California coast. A scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Or doing what I do every year…. Road trip to Orlando, FL. It pays to be well prepared for a road trip.
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So before you pack up your cars and trailers and hit the road. Read through my guide for getting ready for a road trip.
For me planning for a road trip is almost as fun as the road trip itself. Checking places out on Google Maps or towns and cities on trip advisor. Planning the trip out to me is part of the fun. Make sure to get the whole family involved.
You need to decide if you are going to make the drive from point A to point B in one shot. Or if you are going to stop halfway or three quarters of the way. Maybe your entire vacation is just going to be the road trip and only spending one day in each new place you visit. To make it fun, everyone in the family should have a say. Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, family guinea pig (OK maybe not the guinea pig) but all members of the family should have a say where they think you should stop.
A great tool to help you decide where to stop is GasBuddy. Put in your starting point and end point. Enter your vehicle information in and GasBuddy will plot a course with the best places to stop to get gas. For my trip this year from Philadelphia to Tampa, FL it is 1048 miles and will take 15 hours and 32 minutes according to Google Maps.
GasBuddy has me stopping 4 times for gas along the way. Once in Virginia, once in South Carolina and once in Georgia and than finally in Tampa. If I was planning on stopping overnight, I would look around my gas stop in South Carolina or Georgia. For me personally, if I stop anywhere overnight I like to keep my drive under 4 hours the next day. Stopping in Savannah, GA would be about 4 hours away from Orlando.
One of the most important things to remember when planning your stops is who all will be driving. Is it just you? Will the husband or wife be pitching in? How about older children that have their license? For myself, I am the only one that does the driving. My 8 year old daughter is too young to drive right now. I will usually try to drive straight through making stops every two to three hours to stretch my legs. Only you know you and your family and you need to plan for that.
If you know someone can only spend 10 hours in the car. Than plan on stopping somewhere around that 10 hour mark. Always remember not to push it. Just download the Hotels.com app and look for a cheap hotel to rest overnight.
This is probably the best advice I can give anyone preparing to go on a road trip. Make sure all your maintenance is up to date. Change the oil. Rotate the tires. Check all fluids and change the wipers. The last thing anyone wants to do on their road trip is hit up a Jiffy Lube or Walmart to get the oil changed because they forgot to do it before they left.
Also make sure your tires are good to go. Tires are crazy expensive anymore. You’re better off getting them replaced a few months before your trip than while you are on your trip. Chances are if you are driving to a location for vacation (especially if it’s 8 hours or further). You either don’t have the money to fly and rent a car. Or you would rather save that for your vacation. I know I would rather drive my daughter and I to Florida every year from the northeast than fly because it will save me so much more money. Getting the maintenance done before you leave is a must.
Road trip entertainment is so much easier now than it was back in the 80’s and 90’s. With cell phones, tablets, Nintendo _____ fill in the blank, DVD players. The entertainment options are endless. Today it is so much easier to have the kids quite, glued to a screen NOT asking are we there yet. This way you can keep your eyes on the road while listening to some great tunes over the radio.
Before you leave, take some time putting together a playlist. We have a list of the 10 best road trip songs. Take a look you might find your new favorite road trip songs. The key to the perfect road trip playlist….. Needs to be catchy and easy to sing along to.
You should also log on to your Netflix account and download a few movies and TV episodes to watch so you are not using up all of your data. I like to download about 8 hours of movies for my daughter (half of the trip). I will usually have her tell me when the movies over and I plan a stop to get out and eat, use the restroom or just take a walk around.
Another important thing about getting your road trip entertainment ready is to make sure everything starts off fully charged. Pick up extra charging cables for the car. Or a power inverter.
Of course, who could forget the good old license plate bingo game. This is one of my favorite games to play with my daughter. We find different printable bingo boards and play while traveling down I95. When she gets a bingo she wins a small prize. It is fun for both of us and it also helps me teach her about the different states the license plates are from.
ROAD TRIP APPS
We have are phones with us everywhere we go. We have them on trains, in planes, and in are cars. Be sure that you have all the latest road trip apps downloaded and ready to go. I feel the number one app to have on any road trip is Google Maps. I have an entire article here on why I truly believe that. Others prefer Waze for the traffic alerts.
GasBuddy, as I talked about earlier is another good app to have for your road trip. If you are trying to find the cheapest gas, this app is a must for that. Roadtrippers is another good app to already have downloaded onto your phone. You can find all kinds of useful information in the planning phase of your trip by using this app. You can find out common stuff like trip time, mileage and gas cost along with more useful information like attractions or restaurants along your route.
Netflix, Hulu and any other movie and video apps are also a must have. It’s an easy way to keep everyone in the car busy other than the driver. For the driver the best app to have would be Amazon music (prime members) or Pandora. No need to change the radio station every 50 miles or so when you can stream everything you could want right into your car radio.
Probably one of the most overlooked things before you embark on your road trip. Cleaning out the car. Give your car a good wash and vacuum. Make sure you refill your napkins and tissues (don’t want to run out while stuck in traffic).
Having a nice clean and full loaded car can make it feel like everything on this trip is going to be OK. I like to clean my car out about a week or two before I leave. Just gives me that feeling that if I forget anything I will notice before I leave.
For a while many Americans were flying. But today more and more people are hitting the open road, for the good old fashioned road trip. The great American road trip is making a come back and it is better than ever. Gone are the “Are we there yet days” like when I was a kid. Today’s road trips are so much easier for both the kids and adults.
So get started planning your next road trip today. Get that maintenance done and charge up the electronics and get ready to hit the road. Be sure to check out kozmophotos ultimate travel packing list. It’s packed with 28 useful items you should have with you on any road trip.
Are you planning on doing a road trip anytime soon? Let us know in the comments below. Remember to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest at KozmoPhotos. It will help you stay up to day with all the latest post and photos.