Are you planning to hit the road for an epic road trip? Don’t fall prey to the following mistakes, which could derail your solo road trip in America. Although part of the fun is the spontaneity and freedom it provides, a bit of advance road trip planning can help prevent you straying off budget or ending up with car troubles in the middle of nowhere.
Road trip planning mistakes to avoid
Here are 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. With the ease and availability of the Internet, it’s easier than ever.
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 or weather issues.
By just doing a little road trip planning in advance, you will be sure to see exactly what you want in the areas you will be traveling through. Better to take extra time at your must-see destinations than rushing through multiple sites.
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.
Typically, the “right car” you choose for your road trip will be the car, minivan or truck you already own. Always have your car serviced before you set out.
Not many of us have the luxury of choosing from among several vehicles. But things to consider if you do have that luxury or if you are renting a car for your road trip, are:
- The number of passengers you’re travelling with
- Distance you are traveling
- Type of terrain you’ll be crossing
- If you are going to be towing a boat, 4-wheelers, trailer, etc.
For example, Toyota cars may be well suited for long distances due to their fuel economy and high safety ratings, but you might want to road trip in a Land Rover if you plan on off-roading. Read car reviews to find the right fit.
You’ll also need to have room in your vehicle for emergency supplies and packing essentials. Have a bin with extra water, first aid kit, snacks, and emergency survival blankets.
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. And remember 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 an additional $25 – 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 here to there. 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.
Teaching kids about maps
And if you are traveling with kids, teaching them about maps — in a tangible way — can really broaden their world. Let them see how long it takes to get from point A to point B. Everything is electronic now, so it’s nice for them to experience a back-to-the-basics look at how to use a map.
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.