Few things are more quintessentially American than a good old-fashioned summer road trip. There’s something special about loading up the car, packing in a few good friends, and setting off for a destination that’s hundreds of miles away. It’s exciting, spontaneous, and full of opportunity.
But if you’re going to take the time to plan a road trip, make sure you do it right. Here are a few important considerations:
1. Establish a Loose Itinerary
Most people don’t have the time, money, or flexibility to take a totally spontaneous road trip where they set off without any specific plans in mind. Assuming you’re on a timeline and budget, you need a loose itinerary.
The best approach is to pick a destination and then work backwards to wherever you’re initially departing from. Based on this, you can divide the trip up into daily destinations along the way. This helps to keep you on track without being overly strict.
2. Prepare Your Vehicle
Any time you take your car on a trip of more than 100 miles, it’s a good idea to have it inspected by a mechanic. If you have some basic knowledge of how your car works, you can probably do it yourself. Check the following (and make adjustments as necessary):
- Engine oil;
- Engine coolant;
- Tire pressure;
- Spare tire (and spare tire pressure);
- Brakes and rotors;
- Belts, hoses, and filters;
- Headlights, turn signals, and wiper blades.
If these parts are in good working condition, you’re much less likely to have an unexpected breakdown. Check them several days prior to leaving so that you can fix any issues that emerge.
3. Pack Light
The last thing you want is to feel weighed down on your road trip. The entire point of a road trip is to feel young, wild, and free. Pack light and stick to the essentials. Only bring what you need. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to pick up basic items along the way.
4. Know Who to Call
If you’re smart about planning ahead, you don’t have much to worry about on your road trip. However, anytime you put yourself in a vehicle that’s moving at speeds upwards of 70 miles per hour for long stretches of interstate, there’s a chance that something could happen. It’s wise to have contingency plans in place for these surprises.
For starters, make sure you have access to some sort of roadside service. This could be something like AAA, or a service that’s offered through your auto insurance coverage. Secondly, always know the name of a good auto accident attorney, just in case you find yourself in a sticky situation.
5. Be Efficient With Gas Mileage
Gas is one of the big expenses on a road trip (particularly when prices are high). The smarter you are with how you drive, the more you’ll be able to save gas and keep costs down. Here are a few tips:
- Slow down your acceleration time when hitting the gas pedal. For example, slowing your 0-60 mph acceleration time down to 15 seconds can save you as much as 30 percent on gas mileage.
- Avoid stop-and-go traffic as much as possible. Take interstates and highways that allow you to maintain a constant acceleration.
- Avoid carrying unnecessary weight in your vehicle.
- Be sure tire pressure is set to the manufacturer’s recommended levels.
- Keep windows closed while traveling at high speeds.
6. Switch Off Driving Duties
Do your best to rotate drivers on a road trip. When possible, avoid letting anyone drive for longer than 90 minutes at a time. By switching off every 60 to 90 minutes, you ensure maximum focus and prevent situations where drowsiness leads to poor or erratic driving.
7. Minimize Distractions
A road trip is meant to be fun. However, don’t confuse fun with crazy. Distractions can turn a road trip from safe to lethal in a matter of seconds. Avoid loud music, distracting car games, eating while driving, and texting while driving. It’s simply not worth it!
Rubber, Meet Road
Planning a road trip requires a careful balancing act between spontaneity and forethought. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll increase your chances of having fun, staying safe, and keeping the total trip expenses within a reasonable range. Good luck and stay safe!
Keep being AllDayChic!