Five Common Road Trip Planning Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Are you planning to hit the road this holiday season? Don’t fall prey to the following mistakes, which could derail your trip.

Although part of the fun of a road trip is the spontaneity and freedom it provides, a bit of advance planning can help prevent you straying off budget or ending up with a broken down car in the middle of nowhere.

Here’s some simple tips to consider next time you’re in the planning stage of your next adventure:

1. Failing to Do your Research

There’s a certain romanticism to hopping in the car without a destination or care in the world, but in most cases it’s better to research your route in advance.

Find out where the rest stops are and research accommodation options before you leave, and you can avoid getting stranded.

Travel booking sites can help you compare prices and amenities to find the best deals, and you may receive a greater discount for booking in advance. Researching your route will also ensure that you don’t miss out on any attractions off the motorway.

2. Trying to See Too Much

While it’s great to plan ahead, you can also take this too far and try to cram too many sights into one day. You won’t be able to relax if you’re on a tight driving schedule, so give yourself plenty of time to make spontaneous stops or account for bad traffic.

3. Driving an Impractical Car

There’s nothing like driving on the open road in a sporty convertible, but for longer term or family trips you’ll probably want something a bit roomier and with decent fuel economy.

The right car will depend on the number of passengers you’re travelling with and what type of terrain you’ll be crossing. For example, these Toyota cars may be well suited for long distances due to their fuel economy and high safety ratings, but you might want something like a Land Rover if you plan on off-roading.

Read car reviews to find the right fit and always have your car serviced before you set out.

4. Under-Budgeting

It’s easy to underestimate just how much a road trip can cost. We often think of driving as the wallet-friendly way to travel, in comparison to soaring air and rail costs.

However, the cost of fuel, food, and accommodation can really add up over the course of a few days. Don’t forget about the small things like ATM fees, car rental fees, taxes, tips, hotel service charges, or other unexpected costs. Give yourself an adequate safety net of $25 to $50 per day so you don’t find yourself struggling to pay for the journey home.

5. Not Bringing a Backup Map

In this day and age, it’s easy to rely on your car’s built-in satellite navigation or smartphone apps to get from point A to point B. However, these may not always be reliable and if you’re travelling to remote areas, you may not get a signal at all.

Always bring an old-fashioned paper map or road atlas to help guide the way.

You may stumble across a scenic detour this way, or find ways to avoid impending traffic jams.

By planning ahead and preparing for the unexpected, you can make sure that your next road trip runs smoothly. The open road can always bring surprises, so try to be prepared and roll with the punches for a stress-free journey.

(Photo credits: 1234)

2 Responses to Five Common Road Trip Planning Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

  1. Agness November 11, 2013 at 5:48 am #

    I absolutely agree with number 2 that seeing too many things can ruin your road trip. People should be definitely more spontaneous and stop pushing themselves. Last time I was sticking to my “must-see” list and we were stressed about not seeing them all and it wasn’t that much fun :-(!

  2. Kirsten November 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    Some great tips! I completely agree with point 5 – “not bringing a backup map”. As much as I love technology, you can’t always rely on it to work, so you should always have a Plan B. Ideally you should also carry some tools and have a breakdown recovery policy plus snacks, water and a climate-suitable sleeping bag, if you get stranded; obviously in colder weather this is super-important and could save your life.