Looking for some tips and tricks on how to plan a road trip? This amazing guide will help you get organized and ready for some fun!
But before we get to the planning part of things, I’d just like to say that you’ve made a wise choice. There’s no better way to get away from the stress of your everyday life than by hitting the open road!
I mean, let’s face it, everyone has some stuff to deal with. Whether it’s a stressful job, financial issues, or family problems — there’s always something that’s putting weight on your shoulders.
When you’re out on the open road, though, all you have to worry about is having fun! Nevertheless, in order to enjoy yourself to the fullest, you will need to get organized. Don’t worry — that’s why I’m here to help!
How to Plan a Road Trip: A Beginner’s Guide
I don’t know about you, but I love every aspect of planning a trip. From the list of items I’m bringing to planning my dream destination, I enjoy every bit of it.
However, I know that some people aren’t too keen on the organizational part, which is why I think you’ll benefit from my guide.
Let’s start by getting a pen and paper and writing down the following:
- The starting point of the trip and the final destination
- What you would like to see during the trip
- How much time you have at your disposal
- What kind of budget you have
- Who you’re planning on going with
Once you’ve written down all of the points mentioned above, it’s time to move on to the next part in my itinerary.
How to Plan a Road Trip for One
There is a huge difference when it comes to planning a road trip just for yourself, versus traveling somewhere with your friends.
If you’re planning on going alone, then check out the How to Plan a Road Trip for One guide. But, if you’d rather go with your friends, skip this part. Instead, read my How to Plan a Road Trip for Two or More People guide below.
Step #1: The Starting Point of the Trip and the Final Destination
When it comes to road trips, it’s not just about getting to the final destination. For instance, when you’re traveling by plane, you’re anxious to get to where you’re going. Ultimately, you don’t really care about anything in between, whereas when it comes to road-tripping, it’s quite the opposite. The entire trip is supposed to be fun!
With that in mind, when picking your final destination, you should consider what you would like to see throughout the trip. Are there any fun places you can visit? How about any break stops on the way?
For this, I would recommend using Google Maps, as it’s the most reliable app available. If you have a road map handy, mark your start and destination with some markers.
Once you do so, you can do a Google search to see what kinds of attractions you can check out on the way. Then, find each point on your Google Maps app and mark it on your regular map.
Step #2: Planning Out Your Time
It would be so much easier to just jump into your car and drive without considering how much time you have at your disposal. Unfortunately, not many people have that luxury, and most have to carefully plan a road trip.
In fact, sometimes, you need to choose your destination according to your free time. But there’s no need to let that ruin the fun!
Trust me — you can have your cake and eat it too. All it takes is some planning.
First of all, open your trusty Google Maps app again, and use it to calculate the total driving time from point A (the starting point) to point B (the final destination). Also, remember to choose a reasonable travel distance that will allow you to enjoy the attractions.
Write that down on a piece of paper along with the number of days/hours you have at your disposal. Once you’ve done that, you can basically calculate how long you can stay at each location while driving toward your final destination!
If you stick to the plan, I guarantee you that you’ll get to see (and do) everything on your list.
Step #3: Sticking to a Budget
Setting a budget is easy, but sticking to it can be a problem. However, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to saving money, so hear me out.
First of all, you need to calculate how much gas you’re going to need for your trip. Also, don’t forget to take into account that you will be traveling to and from your destination (trust me, it’s easy to forget!).
Another important thing is to always add a few extra bucks for gas just in case. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and in this case, it could save you from being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
When it comes to gas money, there’s not really anything you can do to save money. However, you can save plenty of extra cash if you prepare some yummy snacks at home! You’ll end up spending less on food and drinks.
Booking the Accommodation
You can also save money if you book the accommodation in advance. In some cases, hotels list rooms at a lower price if you book ahead of time. I would recommend doing a bit of research and comparing the prices of hotels so that you can choose the more affordable option.
If you need some help with this, I’ve found that Trivago is the best when it comes to finding budget-friendly accommodation.
Finding Hotel Alternatives
If you’re really set on saving money, look for a BnB or a motel in the area. They’re much cheaper than hotels. Unless you’re looking forward to wearing a fluffy bathrobe and ordering room service, you can really do wonders with your budget by opting for one of these alternatives.
How to Plan a Road Trip for Two or More People
Going on a trip alone means you get to choose the destination, set a budget, and choose where you’re going to sleep. However, traveling alone can get pretty lonely.
Admittedly, going on a road trip with two or more people takes more planning, but if you follow my suggestions, you’ll have an amazing experience.
Step #1: Make a Schedule
Before you pick a destination, the first thing you need to do is call everyone who is planning on going on this trip with you, and find out how much free time they have. Some people have jobs to go to, or kids to take care of, so it’s especially important to set a schedule.
In some cases, you might only have a day at your disposal, so it’s important to use that time wisely!
Step #2: Decide on a Destination
The bigger the group is, the more difficult it will be to choose a destination. If you’re having trouble deciding, write down a few destinations on pieces of paper and pull one from a hat.
Next, you will need to decide which route you will be taking, or rather, which attractions you want to see along the way. Get out a map and make sure to circle each place you plan on visiting.
Step #3: Pick a Mode of Transport
When traveling to a distant place, some people prefer to rent a car. That’s a pretty good idea, especially if you’re traveling with one or more people since you can split the cost. In fact, renting a car is also a great option since you can choose a vehicle according to how many people you’re traveling with.
Step #4: Pick a Job for Each Person
Since the driver has the most responsibility, the other passengers need to pick something to be in charge of during the ride. For example, one person can be in charge of making the snacks, someone else can keep track of the time and check the map, and of course, you’ll need a DJ.
On the other hand, you can take turns driving if you consider that a better option than having one person drive the whole time.
Step #5: Determine a Budget
Yet another advantage to traveling with someone is that you don’t have to pay for everything yourself. Gas, food, and accommodation can end up costing a pretty penny, so by splitting the costs, you’ll end up saving quite a bit of money.
You can also split a room (or two, depending on how many people you’re traveling with) if you’re just planning on spending a night and leaving in the morning.
The Money Saver
By far, the best thing about traveling with someone is that you can choose to set up a campsite along the way! Yes, you can do this if you’re traveling alone too. However, it’s much safer to do so with one or more people by your side.
Camping is a great alternative to staying at a hotel, as it’s cheaper, and obviously, more fun! Just remember to bring along your camping gear and some marshmallows!
Preparing Your Vehicle Before the Trip
Whether you’re traveling alone or not, preparing your car before the trip is the most important thing you need to do. For reference, here is my checklist:
1. Check all of the car fluids, including oil, brake, radiator, power steering, transmission, and windshield fluid.
2. Make sure to check the condition of your tires and inflate or change them if needed.
3. Check the brake pads, light bulbs, air filters, and seatbelts.
4. Make sure you have a first-aid kit in the trunk.
5. Always give your car a thorough cleaning (inside and out) before going on a trip.
6. Make sure to organize the interior, including the glove compartment and trunk.
7. Check the condition of your spare tire.
8. Pack some tools in case you have car trouble along the way.
9. Make sure to pack a few paper bags in case someone gets nauseous.
Pack a Few Essentials
You never know what can happen on the road, so it’s vital to pack a few essentials just in case. These include:
3. Power banks and cords
4. Extra water bottles
6. Warm clothes
7. Nausea pills
Make a Travel Playlist
Nothing says road trip like a good old upbeat playlist! However, when picking the music, make sure to consult the driver first. It’s important to choose music that won’t irritate the person who is driving, or worse, put them to sleep!
My advice is for each person to choose ten songs (or more if there are fewer people) and run the suggestions by the driver. Then, set the playlist to shuffle, and you’re good to go!
If you’d like some suggestions, here are a few of my all-time favorite road trip tunes:
1. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” ─ The Proclaimers
2. “Don’t Stop Believin’”─ Journey
3. “Life Is a Highway” ─ Tom Cochrane
4. “Keep the Car Running” ─ Arcade Fire
5. “Blinding Lights” ─ The Weeknd
Feel free to add these to your playlist. You won’t be sorry!
Final Thoughts on How to Plan a Road Trip
In my opinion, going on a road trip is the best kind of vacation! You’re bound to have way more fun on the open road, and you’ll get to see all kinds of amazing places along the way. I’ve been road-tripping both alone and with my friends, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Additionally, I’ve switched to camping rather than staying at a hotel, and it truly adds excitement to the trip. However, I never go camping alone, as I’m not brave enough for that just yet.
The bottom line is that if you want some adventure in your life, and you have some free time on your hands, I say plan a road trip. You’ll have an incredible time, and you’ll get to see places you’ve always wanted to visit!