By Jack & Megan Dunn
There is nothing we love more than packing up the car and hitting the road. Whether we’re exploring famous landmarks or planning a trip that takes us to lesser-known destinations, the sense of freedom a road trip can bring is unlike anything else.
With so much to see and do, planning a trip can quickly get overwhelming. Though, with today’s technology and a few tried-and-true tips, we find that it’s never been easier to plan the ultimate road trip. We know, all too well, the strong desire to explore, so if you’re itching to get back on the road, here are a few of our essential tips for planning a stress-free getaway.
Do you have an idea of where you’d like your end destination to be but have no idea what to see along the way? Good thing for the Internet. When we plan our own trips, our first step is to visit the tourism website of our destination. Quite often, these websites will have blogs with a great deal of information, including the best landmarks to visit and different activities you can participate in.
Our next step is to head over to Instagram—our favorite app. Instagram is a great planning tool if you utilize the “places” search option and save photos of bucket list locations to your own private albums. You can also use Pinterest in this stage of planning and personal travel blogs. Some locations we discovered from these sources have set the scene for our most cherished memories. One standout place we would not have known existed without Instagram is Sugarloaf Rock, a huge granite rock emerging from the ocean. The rock itself was great to visit but what made this location so special was sitting together and watching the sky glow with golden color as the sun set over the ocean.
Once we’ve chosen all of our desired locations, we’ll enter each stop into Google maps. If you’re anything like us, you’ll have added far too many destinations! But don’t stress, there is an easy way to condense them.
First, start with the must-visit locations. If there are any stops you don’t mind missing, cross them off your list. If it still seems like there are too many, check the pins that will take you well off course and decide if the location is worth the extra driving time. Over the years, we’ve come to realize that a road trip is so much more enjoyable when you take your time to create memories at special locations rather than cramming in multiple destinations.
Once we have our basic route mapped out, we then look into accommodation. We’ll structure our days based on driving time first and then look into available accommodations in the area. For more remote road trips, these steps will often need to be reversed as there are fewer options.
Deciding on your accommodation will depend on your style of travel and your budget. We personally prefer camping at national and state parks. There are a lot of great camping apps out there that allow you to find safe campsites with the help of reviews from fellow road trippers. Some great choices include WikiCamps, The Dyrt, and FreeRoam.
If camping is not really your style, there are countless websites and apps to book a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast stay.
Weather is a big factor to be mindful of when planning your road trip. It can influence not only the gear you’ll need to pack but also the roads and any outdoor activities you have planned. Make sure you are checking an accurate weather app or website prior to your road trip in case you need to make any adjustments.
Gas—one of the main requirements of any road trip. It’s not something we need to pay much attention to in our normal day-to-day life, but it’s something that should remain front of mind while planning your ultimate road trip. The further you venture from towns and cities, the more uncommon gas stations become. We recommend planning gas stops along with your route, just to be safe.
We tend to travel to very remote locations, so this factor comes into play quite often for us. We suggest taking screenshots of all your booking information for accommodation and activities, just in case you can’t access your emails. You can also download Google maps for offline use, and a lot of camping apps have an offline setting as well. We also download audiobooks, podcasts, and music ahead of time for those long drives with no service.
And the number one thing we account for is ensuring our vehicle is safe and road-ready. We recommend using a certified mechanic to inspect your vehicle prior to taking off—the last thing you want to do is worry about car issues while driving in the middle of nowhere! We plan ahead with these tips to ensure our trips are more enjoyable and less stressful.
And our last piece of advice: Don’t be afraid of spontaneity! Regardless of having a plan, the unexpected can sometimes happen. However, this is part of the fun of life on the road.
Now it’s time for you to start planning your ultimate road trip! By using these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to a stress-free adventure—and don’t forget, the best spots are usually down the roads less traveled.
PLACEHOLDER: <links below> TBD
Five Things to Consider Before Planning Your Next Road Trip
Road Trip USA: Driving Cross-Country in an Ice Cream Truck