Planning a Big Road Trip

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When is the last time that you planned and took a big road trip?  If you have even planned one in the past, or even have gone on one, then you know the amount of work that is required for the trip to go smoothly.  But what if you aren’t a planner?  What if you have never been on a road trip?  What are the sorts of things that you need to be thinking about?  What are the sorts of things that you need to make sure that you have covered?

Well, first thing is first, road trips are fun.  They are not supposed to be stressful.   If you have made the proper planning and taken the proper precautions, then you are well on your way to a stress free vacation.  And, it doesn’t really take that much time to plan a road trip, and then to pull it off.  

So, where do you start?  Well, the first thing you need to figure out is how many people are going, and for the length of the trip.  This will dictate the size of vehicle that you are going to need.  Will you get by with a compact car, a mid-size vehicle, a van, an SUV or will you actually consider renting an RV.  These are the sorts of questions that you need to be asking yourself to make sure that you have the basics covered.  

Once you have this sorted out, then you need to decide on where you might like to go and the route that you might like to take.  Even if no one in your party is an avid navigator, you can get along just fine if you have a smart phone.  These phones now have built in GPS systems and there are market GPS systems that you can just punch in your destination address.  If you have ever been in a car when the driver or the passenger doesn’t know where they are going, then you can almost picture the scene from the Chevy Chase Vacation movies in which they are lost, with no idea where to go next.  A little bit of planning the destination and the route along the way can alleviate this problem.  (It is always a good idea to have a map in the car just in case modern technology might fail you as well).  It is also a good idea to know where the gas stations are for refueling along your way.

Once it’s sorted out where you are going and how you will get there, you will then want to sort out what gear will need to be packed. Is this an adventure road trip, full of hiking gear, backpacking, camping gear or activity gear (such as bikes)?  Or will this be more of a laid back tourist trip?  How you pack the car is important, ensure that you pack necessity items last so they can be found more easily and quickly if they are needed.

Once those three major items have been thought about, discussed and decided, it’s time to look at preparing the vehicle for travel.  Make sure that the vehicle is up to safety measures and all maintenance has been done to ensure the vehicle will be steady without any breakdowns throughout the trip.  Although that could be an adventure in itself, it might not be one that you would like or would like to spend your time doing.  Do a safety check on the vehicles including; oil, tires, fluids and safety car kit.

The next is the budget.  How much would you like to spend on the road trip.  Will you eat out for all your meals, what type of accommodation would you like to stay in?

Road trips and enjoyment can sometimes come down to how prepared we are for them.   Make sure that you know alternative routes (in case of accidents or construction), and it’s always a good idea to take a cooler of food with you to keep your body fueled for the trip!