Planning A Road Trip by:Lydia Kelly
The key to a successful road trip is planning ahead. All too often what should have been a relaxing get-away is marred by the frantic search for a forgotten essential, a poorly planned budget, or an inadequate understanding of the area in which you are traveling.
The first step in planning your trip is, of course, to choose a destination. This can be a single place that you are looking to visit, or a general area that you are looking to tour. Use a map to plan out your route, if possible try to plan for a different route to and from your destination, maximizing the opportunity for discovery as you travel.
Once you know where you are headed take the time to go online to research what cities and towns you are traveling through along the way. Many cities and towns have websites that list the tourist attractions in their vicinity. You can also make use of websites like RoadTripJournal.com to see where others have been and the attractions they recommend. Write a list of the places you'd like to see, including the amount of time you will likely need at each stop and the cost of the attractions. Keep an eye open for coupons to save you money. Visit information booths.
Before starting your trip, make sure your vehicle is in good repair, and has had an oil change or tune-up if needed. Your tires should be suitable for the weather expected. Take along an emergency kit, and have an emergency plan.
While driving, you will likely be able to cover around 40 miles per hour. Although you may actually be driving more quickly at times, this is offset by traffic and stopping at lights and signs. This means that 6 hours of driving in a day will take you around 240 miles.
As you look at your route, plan for rest stops about every 1.5-2 hours. You will need to break for lunch, restrooms and to stretch the legs at some point, and you should finish your day's travel well before dark if you plan on camping or need to find accommodation. It is best to select an overnight destination that offers an evening attraction so that once you are set up for the night you can enjoy the local entertainment.
Next you need to consider your budget:
- Keep in mind the costs of the attractions that you intend to visit as you travel.
- You will need to plan for meals and snacks. Bringing along your own food can save a lot of money, so consider bringing a cooler.
- Make reservations for accommodations in advance.
- Make sure that you have enough leeway to cover the cost of fuel. You may want to go exploring the scenic routes in the area you are visiting.
- Souvenirs, there will always be a little something extra that you may not have thought of, so having a spending allowance for extras is useful.
- Finally, you need to plan what to bring with you. While you will want to pack light, you don't want to discover that you forgot something essential.
The best plan is to create a list of everything you might need as you travel then pare it down to the essentials. For clothing, be sure to pack for the season, and choose layers that can adapt to varying weather conditions. Sometimes the weather can surprise you! If you will be staying at various locations for short periods of time, pack your suitcase so you can bring in a couple days worth of clothes and not have to carry in the whole suitcase. Consider all personal supplies that you might wind up needing, using a toiletry kit will keep all those items in one place and be easy to carry from place to place. Don't forget to bring any medications you require.
If you are camping consider not only the basics such as a tent and sleeping bags, but also cooking utensils and lighting for after dark. Don't forget about sunscreen and bug spray. A freshly stocked first aid kit is another smart addition to your packing list. Make sure you have enough batteries and fuel for campsite equipment.
Finally, don't forget to bring something for entertainment along the road. Many rural areas have poor radio reception and little to no selection. Try bringing music CDs and audio books. A good book can be a great way to pass the time when not driving. If you are traveling with kids, portable games and DVD players are good distractions while driving.
A well planned trip gives you the chance to make the most out of your vacation. Being prepared will reduce your stress and keep things running smoothly. So take your time, be prepared, and have a great road trip!
About the author
Nothing is more freeing than the open road! For generations, Americans have enjoyed the wind in their hair traveling from coast to coast seeking romance and adventure. Road trips are as American as baseball and apple pie. If you have always dreamt of taking that journey, Road Trip Journal has the information you need to plan that rite of passage. Visit us today at http://www.roadtripjournal.com.