This article was published on October 1st, 2017
The most fun and memorable trips are taken by jumping into the car and taking off to explore the world around you. Road tripping is a fantastic and often inexpensive way of wanderlusting. The more you prepare, the better your road trip will be. Knowing what to pack, places to visit, ways to save money, and what to remember before you go is critical. Proper planning and packing for a road trip can make all the difference in the world.
Before you head out the door you need to prepare for your journey. Spontaneity while traveling is essential for a good trip, but a little planning will go a long way. Using a map, sketch out a plan of the route you would ideally take on your journey. You can determine which cities and towns along the way you can stop at, what sites you want to see, and potential places to stay. Ideally you would pre-book accommodation; however, with road trips, sometimes plans change last minute and you’ll end up on a detour to a new place based on what you learn along the way.
Knowing what you’re going and what you’re doing will help determine what you will be packing. For example, the climate will help you decide if you’re packing a parka, rain jacket, or hoodie, depending on if you’re in the Rocky Mountains or in the prairies. You could be travelling through multiple climates and ecosystems along your journey, so pack accordingly.
Going off the beaten track can be fun, if you’re prepared. Venturing off-road in a luxury car could have your trip stuck in the mud and stranded without mobile service to call for help. Or you may get stressed driving a giant Winnebago through narrow streets of major cities. Organize your trip to places that are appealing, within your budget, and that are comfortable to drive, based on the type of vehicle you’re driving, and what your fellow passengers are interested in.
When it comes to accommodation, there are plenty of choices. Scale up your vacation by selecting stays at luxury accommodations and resorts, where you can sit back and relax with a glass of wine after a long day of driving. Get adventurous and try glamping; a mixture of camping with all the modern amenities, in a lavish outdoor lifestyle. If you’re travelling on a budget and like to get the biggest bang for your travelling buck, camping is your best option; there are always plenty of campsites along most routes. Alternatively, if you plan ahead, Air B&B and misterbnb are other fun, less expensive options.
Pro tip: Driving at night when it’s cooler can save you on fuel costs and there’s less traffic on the road.
Going on a road trip is the one time where over packing is completely acceptable, and you never know when you might breakdown on the side of the road, where you could be stranded for hours. Pack blankets, pillows, water, lighter/matches, umbrella, hiking boots, protein bars, snacks, flashlight, and rope. These items may come in handy, when you least expect it. Be prepared.
Before you head out, do a quick check of your vehicle. Tire pressure can really impact the amount of fuel burned if tires aren’t inflated correctly. Checking fluid levels is important too; power brakes, power steering, coolant, windshield washer fluid, transmission fluid, etc. The last thing you’ll want is to break down on your journey. If you’re not sure how to do a pre-trip inspection, take your vehicle to a professional mechanic or dealership. Also, make sure you have a fresh oil change.
Lastly, before you roll, use a before-you-go checklist that involves filling up with gas, ensuring you have valid insurance and roadside assistance, you’ve packed all your gear and an emergency kit, extra water, spare tire, and that your vehicle is mechanically road-ready.
Now put your pedal to the metal and get going. The open road awaits.