Travelling on the road can be enjoyable as long as you know what to expect and plan ahead. We included the top five things you should do before and during your trip to ensure you’ll have a trip of a lifetime.
Find your travel mate
Travelling 24/7 with your friend or partner may sound like a breeze, when in reality, it may test your relationship with one another. Make sure that your travel mates have a similar travel style to you - are they a planner and organized or are they spontaneous and like to live on the edge? If your group is complete opposites, it may cause some tension and problems. Not sure who to go with? Try out this Buzzfeed test to discover who you should travel with!
Get your car ready
Obviously travelling by car comes with much more planning than hopping on a plane and flying directly to your destination. Depending on your destination, trip type, the number of travellers and the length of your trip, you may decide to either use your own car or rent a car. Whichever vehicle you decide to use, make sure you have enough mileage to travel - you never know until you’re lost in a sea of land.
Make sure before you hit the road that there’s a spare tire and tools to change a flat if you ever get unlucky while on the road. Another tip is to thoroughly clean your car before your trip - you don’t want to find a handful of dirty napkins two days into your trip!
To protect yourself and your car, some folks choose to install their own smart car system - such as Raven. A device like Raven is great for long road trips as it has multiple features including smart navigation, onboard diagnostics, 24/7 live video and a smart dashcam. If you ever want to relive your trip, Raven can capture time lapse videos of your whole trip.
Make a loose plan
Planning is a no-brainer - you would encounter too many issues if nothing was thought through in advance. We suggest making a general itinerary for each day of the places you want to visit. But don’t expect to follow your plan to a T as you might encounter some “Road work ahead, merge to one lane” signs and some detours on your way. On the other hand, you don’t want to overplan - no one likes to run from one destination to the next while on four hours of sleep.
Pre-download your phone with music and maps
Getting lost is never fun. So save yourself (and your data) the trouble and pre-download the maps you’ll need. For example, Google Maps makes it super easy to download and save your destinations. Save some time and trouble by saving the address of grocery stores and/or gas stations.
Be smart about dividing ‘tasks’
Obviously it wouldn’t be fair for one friend to do everything for the trip. So know in advance who is better at driving, navigating and planning meals. Don’t let the person who can’t read a map navigate - or else you might be driving in circles for a few hours.
Like previously mentioned, not everything will run accordingly, so expect to ride with the waves. If you’re in the middle of driving to a popular national park but suddenly pass by a cool looking cave, stop your car! Get out, take a walk and snap some pictures! Sometimes it’s okay to get caught up in the moment and detour a little from your plan. In other words, take the road less traveled! Often times, the off-roads can lead to some really cool places where you can meet other travelers or locals.
More gas the merrier
This may sound crazy, but you can never have enough gas when driving on what may seem like endless roads. Fill up your gas tank every half way and you’ll thank us later. You’ll also never know if the price of gas will suddenly spike up - your wallet will thank you for filling it yesterday and not today.
The same goes with water. Instead of buying a few dozen-packs of water bottles, buy a few gallon size jugs that can be refilled with water and pack a reusable water bottle. Many parks and even Walmarts have drinkable water fountains that you can use. After all, it’s important to stay hydrated; plus water can be used to make coffee or cook pasta.
Carry cash with you
Although credit cards and Apple Pay is super convenient nowadays, you should still carry some cash with you. If you’re travelling through small towns in the United States, some gas stations may only accept cash so it would save you the awkward “I don't have money to pay” situation. Also, some state and national parks may only accept cash if you want to park or use their facilities.
Again organization is key. If there is a tourist destination you’d like to visit, make sure you bought tickets in advance or booked reservations. Keep all of your documents and important papers together in a folder so that you’re not scrambling to look for them later. Be sure to keep cleaning your car throughout the trip as well.
Don’t sleep in
Yes, you deserve to sleep in. But if you sleep in until 10 or 11 am, you’re not going to get very far. Aim to be on the road around 8:30-9 so that you can drive for a few hours and fit in a few fun activities. You also don’t want to hit traffic if you’re passing through larger cities such as San Diego or L.A. We suggest going to be earlier so you can hit the road earlier.