Tips for the Best Road Trip – use these 9 simple travel tips to plan your open road trip adventure.
Nothing beats an old-fashioned road trip for entertainment.
I enjoy getting out on the open road and seeing our country. For a while now, I’ve been a “road tripper,” and while I enjoy flying, I prefer road trips because they allow you to experience the country truly. So grab your favorite tunes and snacks and plan your open road trip adventure using these 9 simple road trip travel tips.
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9 Tips for the Best Road Trip.
Make a trip itinerary.
Seeing the sights along the way is half the fun of a road trip.
You must first decide where you want to go and then plan your trip. It doesn’t take a long time to plan, but you must know the route you’ll take and the points of interest along the way where you’ll want to stop and explore.
I like to MapQuest my trip and use it as my primary strategy for planning my road trip. GPS is very popular these days, and I recommend it.
Still, you can’t always trust it when driving through construction zones or encountering accidents. That is why it is critical to have a physical map of the areas you will be visiting and plan alternate routes if necessary.
Make hotel reservations before your trip.
While stopping wherever your heart desires are part of the fun of traveling by car, nothing beats a “no room at the inn” experience on a road trip. You may not be aware that a “Comic Book Trade Show,” “Strawberry Festival,” or convention takes place in town while you’re there, and there are no available rooms.
Suppose you do not make your reservations in advance. In that case, you risk not only having to sleep in your car, but you will also be unable to manage your road trip budget effectively. If you’re traveling with friends or family, consider staying in an all-suite hotel or renting a timeshare, an excellent option for families on a road trip.
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Did you know that 90% of timeshare owners don’t use their timeshare regularly? Many of the larger hotel chains that offer timeshares have great deals, and many of them even have a washer and dryer. For my road trip to Scottsdale, I booked a fantastic one-bedroom suite with a kitchenette at the Sheraton Desert Oasis Villas directly through the hotel for only $100/night, including tax.
Get your car serviced or consider renting a car before you leave.
Take your car in for a tune-up one week before your road trip and ask your mechanic to make sure the car fluids are topped off and the air pressure in your tires is optimal for highway driving. Any other issues with your vehicle are addressed.
If you need something fixed before your road trip, it’s best to do so at a trusted location. Furthermore, it can be more costly when it is a must-do situation. Also, bring a roadside safety kit with you in an emergency. My American Automobile Association membership card is part of that kit for me (Premier Membership).
Membership in the American Automobile Association is a must if you own a car no longer under warranty or have automatic roadside assistance. It will save you a lot of money if you have a breakdown and need to have your vehicle towed. If you’re worried that your current vehicle isn’t “road trip worthy,” you might consider renting a car for your trip. I did this for my trip to Arizona because I got a great deal on a rental car and knew I’d be safe on the road.
Plan a picnic with your food.
On-road trips, I used to be addicted to stopping at fast-food restaurants. Something was appealing about it on a trip, but I’ve since learned that I prefer to bring my food. It keeps me eating healthier, but it also saves money, which is especially useful when traveling with a family.
If you plan, you may discover an excellent spot for a scenic picnic along your route, and packing a picnic is superior to flying through the drive-thru. If you do decide to stop for a picnic or to see something interesting along the way,
Bring along some great music or audiobooks!
Music is our lives’ soundtrack, and every road trip requires one. Every time I hear a Phil Collins song from “No Jacket Required,” I remember my trip to Seattle because that was the music I was listening to. When I hear Wilson Phillips’ music, I think of the Bahamas Harbor Island and the beautiful Pink Sands Beach.
It’s like having a vacation theme song, but hearing the music today will bring back fond memories of beautiful trips. I also enjoy listening to books that I’d like to read but find more convenient. Audiobooks are perfect for this, and you can download them to your MP3 player, iPhone, or other PDA device.
Don’t forget to give the kids a boredom buster bag.
I’ve learned from producing Emily Kaufman’s TV show “The Travel Mom” that if you’re traveling with kids, you need to make sure you have plenty of ways to keep them entertained on the road.
This is known as the “boredom buster bag.” Don’t forget to bring along some kid-friendly music and fun travel games, such as magnetic board games. DVD players are a good option for long trips if your child isn’t prone to motion sickness. Electronic games will keep your children occupied, but I advise you to limit their time with them, especially if you’re traveling through beautiful scenery.
It’s an excellent opportunity for your family to bond, and if your child gets lost in a Game Boy, they will lose the memory of the trip.
Make the most of every opportunity.
I like to schedule my stops for gas, food, and restrooms in advance so that I don’t waste time making three stops instead of one. The most important thing is to make sure everyone in the car uses the restroom every time you stop (even if they don’t think they need to). This will reduce the number of stops you make solely for that purpose.
I also recommend stopping at a Starbucks if you’re traveling with children and only need to use the restroom. Parents can get coffee or iced tea, the bathrooms are clean, and there aren’t as many distractions for kids as a truck stop or gas station might have (such as toys to buy). Before you go, use the Starbucks store locator on their website to help you plan your stops. While you’re there, be a “good egg” and buy something from Starbucks.
Avoid getting into trouble. When taking a road trip, you must be street smart.
Don’t make yourself a target for theft by leaving valuables in your car (DVD players, Game Boys, etc.), and don’t flaunt your road trip with pillows and blankets were strewn about. Hide your valuables and road trip creature comforts when you park your car.
Any thief or troublemaker should be able to walk right past your car if you are proactive in hiding your “I’m on a road trip clues.” Other street smart tips include parking with plenty of light and foot traffic and making sure your windows and doors are locked whenever you leave your car.
If you want extra safety insurance, you might want to purchase items like “the Club.” Finally, keep an eye on your speed when driving. Speeding increases your chances of receiving a ticket and, more importantly, reduces your time to react if the need arises. If you are the driver, you are responsible for your passengers.
When signs say, “Speed limits are photo enforced,” take them seriously. Other good driving tips include avoiding rush hour, especially in larger cities, and driving with other passengers whenever possible. If you are unfamiliar with your surroundings, you should avoid driving at night.
Get a Go City Card and save up to 55% at your vacation destination’s attractions and theme parks.
Last spring break, I flew my 8-year-old niece Alexis and 10-year-old nephew Tyler to Los Angeles (using Southwest Airlines Reward Miles, of course), and we took a road trip to San Diego. That’s when I learned about the San Diego Go City Card, which helps you save money.
By purchasing a Go San Diego Card, I saved hundreds of dollars on admissions to Legoland, the Wild Animal Park, the San Diego Zoo, and other attractions, including a whale watch on the Pacific Ocean.
Instead of paying separately for each local attraction, you pay one price for up to 40 draws (depending on the city you’re visiting) and get to design your own experience, tailoring your activities to your preferences while saving a lot of money.
For example, the Go Los Angeles Card allows you to choose from one, two, three, five, or seven-day cards for a low, pre-paid price and gain access to 40 attractions. When compared to purchasing tickets directly from Universal Studios Hollywood, LEGOLAND California, Knott’s Berry Farm, Paramount Studios, the Queen Mary, and other attractions, you can save up to 55 percent.
Go City Cards are available in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, Honolulu, Orlando, Miami, Seattle, Blue Ridge, and even Toronto are among the cities and vacation destinations where Go City Cards are accepted.
Last but not least, don’t forget your cell phone and make sure you’re using it “hands-free” while driving. It is the law in many states, but it is also hazardous. When driving, always use your cell phone “hands-free.”
If you don’t want to be charged higher rates for roaming charges, make sure your mobile software is up to date before you leave. Finally, in case of an emergency, send an email with a copy of your itinerary to other family members or friends; this is especially important for women traveling together. Now, drive safely and enjoy yourself!