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The United States is not just a country, but an entire continent in itself! You can experience everything from snow-covered peaks to barren deserts, the bustling city life of major metropolises to small town America, and everywhere in between!
And there’s nothing more exciting than a long-distance road trip across different states to experience the best of what the country can offer. However, the best trips all start with good planning!
Whether you want to be gone for months or you are on a much shorter road trip, we’ve gathered 10 practical travel tips to make sure you have a successful journey. We cover everything from planning before you head out the door, to what to do when you encounter trouble while on the road!
Starting Your Roadmap—Literally
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of people taking trips is on the rise. Rather than just running out the door, you should do some pre-trip planning to get you started. Even if you don’t want to travel on a minute-by-minute itinerary, some basic planning will set you up for success!
Here are a few things you can get started with when it comes to planning a road trip.
- Put together a basic budget that covers gas, hotels, and food
- Come up with a list of must-see destinations
- Make a check-list of supplies for your road trip—more on that later!
- Think about when you can travel, including vacation time, seasons, and driving conditions
- Consider your co-travelers. Road trips are best shared, after all
The last pre-trip planning tip is to get your vehicle tuned up. A quick inspection and oil change will help prevent any problems while on the road.
The Best Routes to Get You Started
Need a quick kick-start for your road trip planning imagination? Here are a few iconic road trips you can take on any budget. After all, the most travel miles are logged each year by American households with average incomes!
- Historic Route 66 is the most iconic American road trip and will take you all across this country and through some of America’s most important locals
- U.S. Route 2, also called The Great Northern, is a road trip route that takes you from Bangor, Maine to Seattle, Washington and covers some of America’s remote, northern, territory
- Big Sur is an iconic, but much shorter, road trip than nationwide adventures
Essential Items and Must-have Accessories
You need to plan a little differently when you’re taking a road trip compared to when you fly out to a vacation destination. Here are a few things to consider before you hit the road.
Traveling can get stressful. That’s why we always recommend bringing along something to soothe your nerves whether you’re using CBD for travel stress or you want to bring your personal spa routine.
You should also try to bring a little bit of home with you. Your car is going to be your home away from home until you get back from your road trip. Essentials like a cozy blanket, a trash can, and even some cute string lights can help make a world of difference.
A roadside emergency kit is mandatory for any road trip and should include a basic vehicle repair kit, emergency blankets, and some food and water.
Should You Rent an RV?
Renting an RV is a big consideration for your next road trip.
An RV is a great way to hit the road and bring a little bit of home with you. This can also save you the hassle of constantly trying to find reliable hotels and motels while traveling.
However, not everyone is comfortable driving an RV, and they might not be suitable for certain off-road environments.
Whether or not you’re renting an RV, camping, or looking for hotels, you’re going to need to make this decision based on the type of Adventure you’re looking to have.
Know the Different Laws in Each State
Each state has its own laws. This is something you need to plan for before you start a road tip. Here’s a few common legal differences that many road trip adventurers run into.
Vehicle laws are different from state to state. This can include common vehicle mods like window tint, lift kits, and after-market lighting kits.
There are a few other common legal differences that road trip fans should be aware of. Taking a nap at a rest stop might seem like a good way to catch some rest while on the road, but some states have laws regulating how, and even if, you can actually “rest” at a rest stop.
States also have different rules when it comes to how old you need to be to rent a hotel room.
Cannabis legalization is increasing in the United States. However, you need to check the current cannabis legalization laws to make sure you don’t run afoul of the current legal status.
When in doubt, double check any legal questions before heading out the door.
Figuring Out a Road Trip Length
A long road trip can last a few weeks or even a few years. The length of your road trip is all going to depend on things like your goals, your career, and how much time you can set aside for travel.
One thing to keep in mind about road trip length is whether or not you’re planning on traveling solo. There are ways to stay on the road for months even if you’re a solo traveler, but company can make the journey easier and more fun!
Planning for Problems
What should you do if your vehicle breaks down while on the road?
First thing, don’t panic. Remember that emergency kit we talked about earlier? Here’s where it comes in handy.
You should also invest in a roadside assistance service whether that’s AAA or something that comes prepackaged with your car insurance.
Traffic is another major concern while on the road. To be honest, you’re going to be flying free on most open roads, but traffic can get bad in major cities.
The Office of Highway Policy Information has compiled information on traffic patterns if you want to get into the weeds, but you can also just keep your GPS map app handy to dodge any unexpected traffic problems.
Getting sick while on the road is no fun. Having some basic, over-the-counter, medicine in your travel kit can help stave off light ailments while making an unplanned stop for a few days is often better than canceling your trip all together.
It’s All About the Memories—and the Journey
Never forget that a road trip is all about the journey. If you’re just looking to get from point A to point B, a road trip might not be the right kind of adventure for you.
Don’t be afraid to make unplanned stops on the way and check out roadside attractions. Those are often the places where memories are made.