There’s nothing like heading off for a week or two – or even more if you’re lucky – to explore the amazing experiences that America has to offer. Road trips are hardwired into my psyche, and there’s nothing I like more than to hit the road and feel those wide open spaces, the quirky little towns with their unique take on the world, and the unexpected attractions that nestle in a place you never expected them to be.
What do I do when I’m planning my road trip? Here are a few tips for planning and preparing your own.
Check out your vehicle
It may seem obvious, but if your vehicle breaks down en route, then you have a problem. I once waited for a day to get parts to fix mine, and the dumbest thing I did was not to get the car checked all over before I left. Take the time, spend the money if it’s necessary, and make sure the vehicle is in the best shape possible to take a long trip.
Get the oil changed and get safety checks on the likes of the battery, brakes, tires and pressures. I like to be safe on the road, so I add in a first aid kit for emergencies, blankets in case I have a breakdown when it’s cold, and plenty of water and snacks if I’m stuck in a jam or a bad weather incident.
I once packed practically all the clothes I owned for a road trip. Bad mistake and really not needed. If you are packing for a family then you need to think about what’s essential. Keep it as minimal as possible – comfortable clothes that can be dried easily. Wearing the same outfit for a couple of days isn’t a problem – who’s going to know when you’re in a different place every day?
Work out the budget
This is probably the most important part of a road trip, and whereas for some folks there’s no real limit, for most of us we need to think carefully about what we’re going to spend and where. I look at distances, possible detours to get a handle on the gas bill, accommodation costs, tolls and food. Setting a daily budget can help you avoid running out of money. I have learned the hard way, but even though my budgeting wasn’t perfect, I was able to replenish my account through Trans-Fast, a quick and easy way to sort out financial problems on the road.
I find that traveling with children is great if you’re well prepared. They need to be entertained, so audio books or hand-held video games can be a real boon. If they’re prone to travel sickness, make sure they take an appropriate tablet before leaving, and if they say they need a restroom stop, believe them!
Road trips are a part of the American heritage, and they’re a great way to reach out and touch places and experiences that you might otherwise miss. Plan well and enjoy the richness of what the country has to offer. I’ll be back on the road soon!