Whether you are a seasoned pro or a novice newcomer to the world of interstate travel, planning a road trip can be more time-intensive than you think. If you are about to embark on a cross country adventure or a coastal tour of the Atlantic, there are a few important things to consider before you hit the road. With a little planning and forethought, your trip should go off without a hitch.
Preparation for a road trip should start weeks in advance. Beyond saving up your money for the trip, you must also make sure that all of your bills are paid and animals are taken care of while you are gone. You should begin contacting possible house-sitters well in advance, especially if you are planning to take your trip during vacation season. At the least, you will want to arrange for someone to pick up your mail, and to give the appearance that your house isn’t just sitting empty for weeks at a time.
Another thing you should do in advance is to make sure that your car is in good working order. Most automobile service shops offer trip checks that include checking your brakes, tires, transmission, belts and hoses- all of the things that could leave you stranded if something were to go wrong. They will also change your oil and fill up all of your fluids to prepare your car for putting on a lot of mileage. Once your car is checked out and ready to go mechanically, you should then make sure it is legal. Make sure you have an up-to-date copy of your insurance card in the glove box, and make sure your registration sticker is current and properly placed on your windshield. Also, it is a good idea to bring an extra set of keys in your wallet or purse just in case you accidentally lock them in your car.
Planning where you are going is the next step in preparing for road trip travel. There is a lot of flexibility in this step, because it is all up to you. One of the beautiful things about a road trip is that you can go wherever you want whenever you want without being confined to other people’s schedules or destinations. If you are adventurous, you could just get in your car and start driving wherever the road takes you. Just be sure to bring a good map in case you want to find your way back. However, if you are a planner by nature, you might want to plot your route out on a map. Consider how long you’d like to be gone and what you would like to see, and you can use mileage charts to figure out how long it takes to get from one place to another.
Once you are finished with the preliminaries, it is time to start packing. If you are not sure where you are heading, it would be wise to bring a variety of clothing choices, both for hot and cold weather. That way, you won’t end up in a snow storm with only Bermuda shorts to wear. However, if you know you are driving to the desert or the beach, be sure to plan accordingly. Pack sunscreen, cool clothes and several jugs of water for those long desolate stretches.
You should also remember to bring a camera and several rolls of film or memory sticks to document your journey. Once you are back in the real world, you will only have photographs and memories to remind you of your trip. Also, be sure to bring along a wide variety of music, as even your favorite tunes can start to get old after several hours of driving.