The weekend road trip is the epitome of freedom for millions of people worldwide. Finding the time and the resources to take your family and/or friends on a short trip is the best way to escape the fast pace of modern life.
However, you cannot just pack everything (and everyone) in the car and set off. There are at least 7 things you should plan before turning the ignition key.
Have at least a vague idea where you are headed
The biggest allure of a road trip is the exploration of the unknown. Heck, your passengers don’t even have to know the final destination! Kids won’t mind this, as they like surprises but adults will probably express concern and for a good reason.
You cannot choose a destination on a whim, as you must know the road leading to it. A fine balance must be struck between road safety and adventure. Perhaps you can decide to visit a place you’ve planned for years but never had the time before.
Plan for stops
Any journey longer than one hour will require regular stops. Not only is this logical but it has been made into law in many countries. For example, Aussie drivers are allowed to drive a max of 12 hours before a long rest. They plan their routes according to this timetable and know exactly where they will stop to use the restroom and grab a bite to eat.
The same principle should apply to your road trip, as you need to have a vague idea when and where you are going to make stops. If you’re taking the kids with you, then these stops should be more frequent and at places, they can get a good run-out. This is why it’s important to know where you are going, as underlined earlier.
Keep all travel documents on you
If the road trip will take you across national borders, then you naturally need a passport. Even if you’re planning a trip within your homeland’s borders, you still need a driver’s license, registration, and car insurance.
Also, if you make any traffic violations and get fined for them, immediately pay the state what you owe it: the same goes for parking tickets, as benign as they might seem. In some countries, it is impossible to cross the state border unless you pay traffic fines.
Take the car to the mechanic for an inspection
A road trip can easily come to an abrupt end if your car breaks down in the middle of the road. There is nothing romantic about getting towed away, so make sure your four-wheeler is road ready. Some checkups you can carry out on your own, such as confirming the spare tire is properly inflated or that jumper cables are in the trunk.
On the other side, a major checkup necessary for a road trip requires you to get car service quotes before setting out. Once a mechanic confirms your car is ready for the road, you can plan a route and roll out of the garage.
Don’t forget to clean the interior of the car
Confirming that your vehicle is mechanically safe to drive isn’t the whole story, as you need to clean it up. Taking it to a carwash is desirable but the real problems lie inside the vehicle. Namely, you going to spend a lot of time inside the car during the road trip, so littering is inevitable.
However, if you already have all sorts of junk lying around the floor, the mess is going to escalate to the point that the ride won’t be pleasant anymore with gum wrappers sticking to your shoes or the rancid smell of a spilled cocktail.
Entertainment on the go
If you have passengers in the back, you need to keep them entertained. Chatting adults is always an option but kids need extra stimuli. One solution is to mount tablets in the headrest of the front seats.
The alternative is to teach your children how to play the license plate game, just like you did with your old folks. Remember, a road trip is not your typical holiday, as having fun on the road isn’t just a pastime but the heart and soul of the trip.
Always have a backup option
If you plan the road trip to the best of your abilities, things can still go terribly wrong. You cannot control hospitality services, the elements, or the traffic but you can have a plan B.
For instance, when you book a hotel room, take a look at hostels and motels in the area in case your reservation is canceled at the last minute.
Also, take a broader look at the road map, so you can immediately come up with an alternative route if there is a roadblock of any sort.
A road trip doesn’t lose any of its major if you preplan it. By making sure everyone is safe, the car is fully operational, that you don’t wander around, you are creating the perfect conditions for an adventure of a lifetime!