This past summer, my family embarked on a 9 day road trip along the East coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts and back. This was a very memorable trip, and proper planning with these tips helped to make it a great experience.
Tips to Plan a Summer Road Trip
Several Months Before the Road Trip
- Use a calendar and a map to determine your travel dates and travel route.
- Request time off from work.
- Be sure the children have time off from school or camp.
- Look at the estimated drive time, but always account for traffic congestion and pit stops along the way.
- Determine the amount of time you can comfortably drive, and plan your stops accordingly.
- Use the Internet to your advantage, and research restaurants and other sights along your journey in advance. No need to waste your limited vacation time reading through tourist brochures or debating where to eat.
- Contact family or friends you plan to visit or stay with during your trip.
- Make hotel reservations: research online hotel reviews, amenities and parking fees.
1-2 Weeks Before the Road Trip
- Prepare your car by having a mechanic look at it. Be sure the air conditioner is working and that the oil has been changed recently. Make sure you have enough cargo space for the trip, if not, consider renting a car and make those reservations.
- Update your GPS software. If you use a mobile device for GPS navigation, also have a paper map in the car, just in case you’re somewhere without reliable cell service.
- Check the weather forecast for the locations where you are traveling. You may need an umbrella if it will be rainy, or a sweatshirt for chilly nights.
- Make a list of everything you need to pack: clothes, toiletries, electronics, chargers, etc.
1 Day Before the Road Trip
- Go grocery shopping. To save time and money, you can pack a cooler with lunches and drinks. If you don’t want to stop for breakfast, buy fruit, muffins or donuts at the grocery store to take with you on the road.
- Pack a small bag for each overnight stop on the road trip. Have everyone put the clothing for night 1 and day 2 in one small bag, put night 2 and day 3 in another bag and so on; that way you don’t have to lug a week’s worth of clothes to every hotel room.
- Pack 1 small bag of toiletries that you will bring to every hotel room.
- Fill up your car with gas.
- Review your packing list, and begin packing the car.
During the Road Trip
- Try to plan all stops to take place at the same location. Fill up with gas, find a restroom, and get a meal in the same place to eliminate many stops on and off the highway.
- Always expect the unexpected on a road trip. With proper planning, you will be more prepared for the unexpected, and can better enjoy your trip.
Packed car photo from Flickr user pinprick