Essential Tips For a Smooth Road Trip

By Lloyd C | Updated November 12th, 2011

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road trip

Many travelers find the open road thrilling, the enthralling experience of driving across a vast open expanse of the road while just stopping occasionally for fuel and rest. The road trip is coming back in full force as it is cheaper to hit the road than fly. No matter what the route, there are six things that a driver can do to make the road trip, especially the last-minute ones, be hassle-free and enjoyable. Also, there are very different types of road trips on which drivers may have to tackle variable terrain conditions.

There is a big difference, after all, between driving interstate or cruising the Florida Turnpike. Or, running from London to Cornwall for instance and crossing a vast desert continent like parts of Australia. So, drivers embarking on a road trip must plan accordingly.

A Road Trip Is More Popular

marked location on old map
Don’t embark on your road trip without proper planning for the journey ahead

Land travel by car is a popular way people go from place to place. Road trips have become a regular part of the American lifestyle.
Cruising the highways in an open top convertible or bouncing across gravel in a 4×4 are popular travel expedition due to the freedoms and feelings of independence from the pressures of the world that they project. Yet no matter how familiar you become with land travel, you could still go into a blind panic when you have to do it on short notice, especially if others are depending on you as well. To help you minimize the hassles that come with last-minute land travel, here are some tips you can follow.

1.  Plan Your Road Trip Every Step of The Way – Secure a Map

Secure a road map of your destination. This is particularly important if you are heading somewhere you have not been to before. But even if you are somewhat familiar with your destination, it is still best to have a map with you in case you do get lost.
Before leaving, study your map and plan your route. Take note of one-way streets and detours so you can avoid the inconvenience of having to look for an alternate route when you are already on the road. Maps can be printed out from the Internet these days or on the fly if you have access to 3G or Wi-Fi.

2.  Produce a Road Trip Itinerary – Pass a Copy to a Friend or Relative

vacation road trip on car

Plan your itinerary. If you are going on a long drive, plan where you are going to spend the night, where you are going to take your meals, where you are going to get gas, and even where you can make bathroom stops. Having a well-planned travel itinerary will make your road trip go much more smoothly.

3.  Check the Road Worthiness of Your Vehicle


Has your car checked by a professional garage mechanic? This is one of the most crucial steps in preparing for a road trip. Ensure your car is in good condition for long travel. Check the tires, the brakes, the lights, the oil, the water, and all other important parts before you leave. Even new cars may need an oil change or a spare tire.

4.  Purchase Travel and Event Tickets in Advance

purchase travel ticket

Buy your tickets ahead. If you are traveling by public transport, buy your bus or train tickets early. If you are traveling at the last minute, try to call the bus or train station as soon as possible to reserve seats. Don’t wait until you actually have to leave before buying your tickets. This will save you a lot of hassle in case the bus or train you are taking turns out to be filled to capacity.

5.  Pack For the Road Trip in Plenty of Time

woman packing for vacation

Pack everything you will need for the road trip. If you are taking your car, you can bring everything you can fit in the trunk and backseat. When you are traveling by public transport, however, bring only the basic essentials for your convenience. Either way, make sure you take all the important stuff with you such as documents, change of clothes, and personal items. You can purchase other things like food along the way.

6.  Bring Sufficient Cash and Loose Change

happy lady with cash box

Bring enough cash. While it’s not a good idea to take loads of cash with you when you travel, make sure you do have enough money to pay for your meals or accommodation, just in case some places in your destination do not accept credit cards. It is also wise to bring along a handful of loose change for when you have to take the bus or make a call using a payphone.

Some highways are toll roads, adequate spare change will avoid that dread feeling of being caught short. Take proof of identity with you also. All in all, a spur-of-the-moment road trip need not be such a hassle. Follow an organized system for preparing for your trip and you will be able to travel efficiently and have a great time as well.

The Globetrooper View on Road Trips

As adventure travelers, we know that a road trip can be demanding journeys, some types of rout more so than others. If your road trip takes the group away from populated areas then the above tips are especially important to appreciate.

Even if driving across familiar roads plan for the unexpected, take plenty of rest stops and stock up on food and drink. If driving under hot sunny conditions watches out for sunburn, the cool wind that feels so nice and speed can be concealed to the harmful rays of the sun.