What’s better than loading up into the car with your friends or family and hitting the road, bound for a destination unknown? The open road, the wind in your hair, nowhere to be, and no deadline to get there, it’s a great summer road trip. Whether you’re heading to the beach, into the mountains, or on a city adventure, they say travel is about the journey, not the destination, and nothing epitomizes that idea quite like a road trip. In fact, we can’t think of a better way to spend your summer holiday (but we might be biased).
Like with any adventure, preparation is key! And, to make sure this epic trip doesn’t go off course, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your trip on the road a success.
Our life is one big road trip and living van life full time, so we’d like to think we’ve learned something along the way. Here are our top seven road trip tips for preparing for a summer road trip.
Road Trip Tip #1: Get your Vehicle Ready for the Road
You want to spend your holiday on the road, not by the side of it waiting for a tow truck. Make sure your vehicle has been recently serviced and is in good condition to carry you there and back again safely. This simple and obvious road trip tip can seem like a bit of a drag, but there really is no better time than just before you set out for an extended drive to take care of the dreaded car service. Your car is your greatest tool on this adventure, treat it well and it will look after you in return.
Aside from your regular oil and filter changes, check your tires and make sure your car doesn’t have any mechanical problems. Let your mechanic know you are hitting the road and need a safety and mechanical inspection to make sure everything is in working order. Your mechanic will be happy to do a safety check and report back any issues that could compromise the safety of the vehicle.
As part of this safety check, be sure to do your research on your particular vehicle. Every make and model of vehicle has weak spots. Ask your mechanic if he knows of common problems, or, if they aren’t sure, a quick Google search should dig up the major gripes with your particular make and model.
If you are heading off the beaten path, you may even want to take some replacement parts with you. Ask your mechanic what he thinks you should take with you!
Pro-tip: Find a mechanic that you can trust. Do your research, ask friends and family for recommendations, and check the online reviews. Taking the time to find a knowledgeable and honest mechanic will pay huge dividends!
Road Trip Tip #2: Make Sure Your Paper Work and Memberships Are Up to Date
Okay, we are getting the boring road trip tips out of the way first.
Now that the car is in working order, it’s time to make sure our permits and paperwork are in order too. Make sure licenses, registration, insurance, toll permits, and road side assistance memberships are all paid and up to date.
Being caught out without a valid license or valid insurance could bring your road trip to a pretty quick and dismal end, especially in case of an accident! Make sure your co-drivers also have valid licenses and are ready to roll!
Similarly, road side assistance can be a godsend when travelling far from home where friends and family can’t come to your aide. Road side assistance can be very affordable and can provide peace of mind when a road trip goes, err, south.
Another great piece of advice, if you’re heading somewhere far from home make sure you know how the toll systems work and if you need any equipment or registration ahead of time!
Road Trip Tip #3: Read up on the Local Driving Rules and Etiquette
When it comes to driving in a foreign country, it is always a good idea to check the local driving rules and standards.
Different road rules, customs, and standards can create confusion on the road, and confusion leads to chaos.
Different places can have different rules about how to make turns on red lights, how to park, different conditions to use your headlights (or not use them), and even different days of the week you can and can’t drive! Heck some places don’t even drive on the same side of the road as you do! A little research can go a long way to keeping your road trip safe and hassle free.
Road Trip Tip #4: Check you have the right tools for a Road Trip
At the very least, make sure your car jack and tire wrench.
Other recommended safety equipment include a small portable fire extinguisher and emergency warning triangles. You may also want to consider packing a small tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, set of socket wrenches, tire repair kit, air compressor, some zip ties and some tape. These are some of the most obvious tool to get you get you out of 99% problems.
If your driving in a foreign area, check the laws, some places require drivers to carry mandatory safety equipment that isn’t necessarily required at home, and a police spot check could end up costing a lot!
Road Trip Tip #5: Assign a DJ to Take Care of the Programming by Downloading Playlists and Podcasts
The success of your road trip doesn’t rest exclusively on the tunes, but they certainly help!
We like to have a range of playlists,(including some classic sing along road trip songs) as well as some interesting podcasts pre-downloaded and ready to roll before we jump in the car.
Elect one member of the road trip DJ and task them with supplying the music and podcasts for the trip.
Arguing over radio could get nasty and cut a promising road trip short before it has the chance to get going.
If you’re riding solo, don’t despair! Even without a co-pilot / DJ, carefully curated, pre-downloaded playlists and podcasts will keep you company and soundtrack your adventure!
Pre-downloading your content on Wi-Fi before you set off will prevent the need for streaming. Streaming music on the go can use a lot of data quickly which can lead to expensive internet charges.
What’s more, if your road trip takes you off the beaten path and out of mobile phone reception areas, having your tracks and podcasts downloaded is going to save the day!
Having your listening sorted before you set out will be one less headache to take care of while driving and is one of the best road trip tips we can give!
Road Trip Tip #6: (Loosely) Plan your Route
Yes, there’s a certain romance that comes with setting off into the great unknown without a plan or even a map. But although it might seem romantic the results can be … stressful. So, why not have a backup plan in the pocket!
Having a basic idea of some things you want to see, spots you want to eat, and places you want to stay can give your trip structure and stop your trip from turning into hopelessly and aimlessly driving around.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be flexible! Stay loose, go with the flow, and be prepared to change plans on a whim, but a solid plan to fall back on can help make things less tense.
So, now you you have a basic route, an itinerary or, at the very least, some place names scribbled on the back of a napkin, well done. But without a reliable map, reaching these destinations is not assured. Mark your destinations and points of interest on your mapping app of choice (we like Maps.me) and download for offline use!)
Road Trip Tip #7: Pack the Best Road Trip Snacks
Okay, let’s be real, this could be the most important of the road trip tips in preparing for your epic road trip. Just like your car won’t get very far without petrol, you need to fuel up your body with the right selection snacks. A proper stockpile of snacks and supplies will help keep energy, motivation and moral up in the car and the wheels turning.
Like everything in life, planning the snacks for the road trip is about balance. These foods need to be delicious, easy to eat, no mess and healthy. Our go to snacks for the road are jerky, nuts, sunflower seeds, dried and fresh fruit, popcorn, rice crackers and a thermos (or keep-cup) full of coffee.
Don’t forget to pack the water bottles too! It’s important to stay hydrated!
Ok, I think it’s time to get behind the wheel and take this show on the road. Enjoy the freedom of the open road and take assurance from the fact that you are properly prepared for a fantastic road trip!
If you have any questions about our road trip tips, or if you have some handy road trip tips of your own, let us know in the comments below!
Want to save these 7 Simple Road Trip Tips for later? Pin ’em!