Last Sunday, Michael and I headed out of town for the day. We just needed a break and a change of scenery. Travel is such a big part of our lives that being unable to travel has just felt strange over the past few months. Even though the coronavirus didn’t hit where we live as hard as it did in most major cities, we still took every precaution to ensure we didn’t spread the virus. Like most people in the world, we didn’t go anywhere for months. Now I have the worst case of cabin fever. I’m sure some of you can relate! So, if you’re looking to get out of the house for a day, or a week, it might be time to hop in the car and take a drive. Here is how to plan a road trip.
Make a Road Trip Plan
Or don’t if that’s your thing. But if you’re a planner, sit down and decide where you want to go. Do you have a destination in mind or just a general direction you want to start heading? How long do you want to be gone? Is this a day trip or will you be gone for a while? These are important elements to consider so that you can ensure you have the essentials packed for the trip.
What is Your Destination & How Long Will it Take to Get There?
These are important questions so that you can plan any stops along the way. Hello World’s Largest Ball of Yarn! If you’re traveling in an area that is a bit more secluded than most, it’s important to earmark some gas stations if you think there will be quite a few miles between stations. I’m talking to you Utah!
It’s also probably a good idea to let someone who isn’t on your road trip know your plans for safety reasons.
Need some road trip inspiration? CNTraveler has put together a list of the 14 Best Road Trips in America. You can read that here. Also, Travel & Leisure has put together a list of the 7 Best Midwest Road Trips. I always appreciate publications who don’t forget we exist out here! You can check that out here.
Where Are You Staying?
I know that for some, a hotel is not a top priority. But for me, it is THE top priority. I love an experience. In my opinion, the right hotel is what sets the mood for the trip. You want to be comfortable and able to relax at night when you’re back in your room. That’s not possible when you’re worried about when the last time they changed the sheets was! Having reservations or a general idea of what is available along your road trip route is essential so that you don’t end up at a hotel with cheetos in your bedsheets! Not speaking from experience or anything.
What Are Your Destinations?
It’s not a road trip if you just power through and don’t make any pit stops. The whole idea is to stop and explore fun, and sometimes weird, destinations along the way. Once my sister made us stop at Wall Drug in South Dakota just because, for 100 miles, they were advertising a free glass of water.
It’s a good idea to have a general idea of what is on your route, but don’t be afraid to wander off the beaten path. You may just find something interesting, or at least a free glass of water!
The Best Road Trip Planner
I know it’s a bold statement to call anything the best. But I have been having so much fun using Roadtrippers that I don’t know how anything else could compare. Roadtrippers can be used as an app or on a web browser. Just enter your starting point and destination and discover all of the fun places in between. This tool will be essential when planning your next road trip.
On Roadtrippers, you can set how many miles you’re willing to veer of course to see an attraction. It will also tell you how much gas is estimated to cost for your total trip as well as the mileage and time frame. Not to mention, Roadtrippers lets you know when there are hotels, motels & campgrounds along your route.
Still looking for more? The Mandagies have put together a blog post on 15+ Apps & Websites to Help you Plan your Trip, which even includes resources for budget-friendly travel! You can read that here.
Road Trip Essentials
No road trip is complete without being properly prepared with the right clothes, snacks and gear. All of these vary depending on your location, but here are some general ideas.
Kiki from The Blond Abroad has also put together a list of 10 Essential Tips for Your Road Trip. You can read that here.
What to Pack on a Road Trip
Here is a list of must-haves on a road trip:
- Good walking/hiking shoes
- A coat
- Pillow & Blanket
- Comfortable clothing
- A good book
- Extra socks & underwear
- A map. Yes, even if you have a smartphone.
- Sunscreen & bug spray
Everything else that you pack should be indicative of the climate that you’ll be traveling in.
I found the perfect comfy road trip sweater and wrote a post about it!
What are the Best Road Trip Snacks
There are a few things you need to remember while snacking on a road trip. You’ll be spending a lot of time in the car, and most likely with someone in the car. So you don’t want to bring snacks that are messy or loud. Maybe those are just rules for when going on a road trip with me, but I’m hoping I’m not the only person who hates loud food!
With that being said, pack a cooler so you can have some healthy options. But don’t forget the sour patch kids! Whatever you decide to bring, make sure it’s something that you will enjoy.
My favorite snacks:
- Sour Patch Kids
- Beef jerky
- Lots of water: it helps if I get car sick.
- Dots pretzels
- Stuff to make sandwiches
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to eat at local restaurants, that’s why I don’t pack a ton of snacks. But I’m curious to know what your favorite road trip snacks are. Let me know!
Are you planning a road trip in Nebraska? Check out the Best Restaurants in Nebraska for a great place to eat!
Various Road Trip Essentials
There are just a few other things that you need to bring on your road trip. First, good music. Whether you have a Sirius subscription or you plan to make a playlist, music is essential to get you through the boring parts of the trip.
Another thing is a charger for all of your electronics. And make sure you have a trash bag to keep your space clean. You won’t want to forget all your documents for the car too, like proof of registration and insurance.
The last road trip essentials are a first aid kit and a kit for emergencies. Better safe than sorry!
What has been your favorite road trip and how do you plan a road trip? Comment below and let me know.
Below are some of my top travel essentials!
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