Maybe you’re thinking, why do I need all this stuff to plan a simple road trip? Can’t I just pack my stuff, gas up my car, and go? Maybe get a map online first?
Well, you could do that, but there is fairly high likelihood you’ll run into trouble. Using this road trip planner will help you head off problems and make your trip run smoothly so you can focus on all the good times the road has to offer.
What problems, you ask?
- Believe it or not, the #1 thing you should be thinking about is not your destination, not the map or directions to get there, not what you pack, not what shape your car is in, or any other thing that comes to mind. To find out more, read my article #1 Thing: Make or Break Your Road Trip.
- You could run out of money or go over budget. There are a lot of costs you could forget to consider when planning a road trip, like that extra drink at the tiki bar you and your friends discover or the souvenirs you pick up at that cute little general store. Check out this Road Trip Budget Calculator to get a handle on what you’ll be spending.
- You could get lost. Of course, you’ll need to select a destination, but also consider your route and all the sights along the way. A road trip is so much more than where you’re going; it’s every stop along the road – that farm stand with ripe peaches freshly picked, that little antique store with the pretty garden in front, that rest area with an amazing view of the mountains. To find out what it takes to make a road trip great, check out my article Road Trip Planning: Map It!. For a five-step foolproof method to help you map out your road trip perfectly, check out this article on creating your own road trip map.
- You could forget something important. There is so much to do before you go that only a Road Trip Checklist can cover it all. From getting your car ready to load it up, you want to be sure you’re truly ready to hit the road. In addition, if you’re bringing pets on your road trip, you’ll need these road trip planning tips for pets to help you prepare.
- You could end up being a victim of a crime – whether your home gets burglarized while you’re gone or you expose yourself to a criminal on the road. Taking these essential and easy safety steps when planning a road trip can make the difference between your vacation is a wonderful one filled with happy memories and one ruined by criminals.
- Your car could break down and leave you stranded. Even if you get it fixed on the road, the time your car spends in a shop cuts into the precious time of your vacation – something this road trip planner is all about avoiding! Read these road trip planning car preparation tips to avoid the comic cliche of your car breaking down (that isn’t so funny when it happens to you).
- If you are renting or own a new RV, there’s a lot to learn! From RV driving tips to details about dry-camping, these RV Road Trip Planning Tips will help you get properly prepared for your RV adventure.
- This road trip planner toolbox wouldn’t be complete without some help for those of you forced to go on a “haul” road trip – one where you attempt to get to your destination as quickly as possible and involving many hours in a row behind the wheel. Read this haul road trip planning article to help you deal with this type of trip.
When I was twelve, we went on a camping road trip all the way from Connecticut (childhood home state) to North Carolina in an old Peugeot with one adult (Mom!) and four kids including me, my brother, and my two cousins.
It was one of my favorite road trips of all time, but also the most painful. Not only did we have three growing teenagers crushed into the back seat, but also the overflow from the trunk including magazines, a cooler, groceries, and other odd items poking at us from every angle.
We had a lot of wonderful times on that trip: camping at a different campground every night and exploring it from one end to the other as dusk settled, hiking in the Smoky Mountains, flying kites on the Outer Banks, but it would have been better if we could have breathed while we were in the car!
How big is your car? How many people can comfortably fit in it? How large is your trunk? What are you packing – a cooler, grill, camping gear? Be realistic about how many people can ride for hours with all of that stuff. If necessary, get one of those cargo carriers you can put on the top of your car and put some of your stuff in that.
One tool most people use when planning a vacation is a led headlight guidebook. I’ve always been a sucker for a guidebook filled with beautiful pictures and wonderful descriptions of a destination. Unfortunately, the word “sucker” applies a little too well in this case; read my article With a Grain of Salt: Guidebooks to find out how guidebooks can help or hurt your road trip depending on how you use them.
Vacations are supposed to be fun. By taking the time to use this road trip planner and its tools and articles before you go, you’ll practically guarantee that yours is a blast!