If you are thinking of taking to the open road in a car or motor home, then you will need some tips for planning a road trip. There are a lot of factors to consider if you want your trip to be a success. You can't just pack your things into the trunk and head off! Planning really is important if you want your trip to work out happily. It's good to have some flexibility and willingness to go with the flow, but you also need to be prepared and organised. Whether you are moving from one state to another, following Route 66, or exploring the wilds of Canada, it's essential to be well prepared. So here are just some of the most useful tips for planning a road trip … Have you got the travel bug yet?
1. Vehicle Maintenance
One of the most important practical tips for planning a road trip is that you should acquire some basic knowledge of vehicle maintenance before you leave. Check out your local community college, which may offer courses in car maintenance for women, or ask a knowledgeable friend or relative to teach you. When you're doing a lot of mileage, your vehicle will need regular checks, and you should know how to carry out basic procedures such as topping up the oil and water, and how to change a tyre. This could save you from breaking down in remote areas where help is a long way off. It's also vital to belong to a vehicle recovery organisation, so that you can get assistance if your vehicle experiences a fault that you can't fix.
What is your aim on the trip? Do you have a fixed route in mind, and want to plan your itinerary in minute detail? Do you need to be in a certain location by a particular date? Or would you prefer to just meander and go wherever the mood takes you? If you have any "must-see" sights that you want to include, make sure that your route doesn't take you too far away from them. If you're travelling with a friend, you'll also have to work out an itinerary that suits both of you.
Unless you love solitary travel, you'll want company on your trip. Having someone with you means that you can share driving duties, and have someone to talk to during the long hours on the road. However, you have to pick the right travel companion, otherwise your dream trip could quickly become a nightmare! So choose your partner well. They need to be someone that you can bear to be with constantly for the duration of your trip, which could be several weeks, after all!
You might be lucky and get one of those jobs driving a car from one coast to another, but a road trip will involve a number of expenses. Travelling on a shoestring budget is fine in certain countries, but unless you plan to sleep in the vehicle, you'll have to pay out for motels. You'll also need to eat, and of course, a long trip will use a lot of gas. You should have ample funds to cover all your needs, and to deal with any emergencies that may arise. Don't try to travel without access to enough money, or your trip may be cut short!
5. Safety First
One of the top tips for planning a road trip is to always consider your safety. Never drive when you are tired; if you and your partner are both fed up with driving, pull over and take a break. Don't rely on coffee breaks to keep you going. It's better to stop at a motel for the night rather than push on. Also consider your safety as females (if you are an all-female party). Be careful in remote areas, and in unfamiliar towns find out the areas to avoid. Knowing basic mechanics, as I suggested in Part 1, can also help keep you safe, by reducing the chances of you breaking down somewhere remote.
While you do need to consider your safety, a road trip is all about adventure. So you also need to set out with the willingness to step out of your comfort zone. If you see a sign for somewhere that sounds interesting, why not go there? You can always rejoin your original route later. If you suddenly get the urge to head for Vegas instead of Dallas, or decide the mountains seem more appealing than the beach, go with the impulse.
Always do your research before setting off, especially if you are planning to head to a more unusual destination. Are there any areas that are dangerous, where travel is not advised, or that are not safe for women? Other practical issues include filling up when you find a gas stations, rather than waiting until the tank is nearly empty, and choosing a suitable time of year to travel. You really don't want to be stranded in extreme heat or snow, and find that you're 30 miles from the nearest gas station, with no signal on your cellphone!
8. Limit Driving
Your road trip won't be much fun if you spend all your time at the wheel. This is why it is very handy to have a travel companion who has a driver's license for the type of vehicle you are using. Don't forget to check that you are both fully insured before setting off! Sharing gives you both the chance to enjoy the passing scenery. It's also not safe to spend too many hours driving. You will grow tired and bored, and this could be risky. Decide beforehand how much driving each of you is going to do; around three hours is a good limit.
A road trip is something that many of us dream of doing, and it can be an amazing experience. Since it's something you only get to do rarely, you'll want to make it memorable. It's not something that you can do on the spur of the moment - most of us need to get organised first! Essentially you need a combination of common sense, adventurous spirit, and planning. Be flexible, and try to treat any hiccups as part of the adventure! Oh, and don't forget your camera to record your journey (and memory cards with lots of capacity!). You should also keep a journal, or even a blog, to remember your amazing trip. Which destinations would you include on your ideal road trip? The US is a huge country ideal for road trips, although there are a lot of other destinations (I knew someone who travelled around Europe in a motor home). Are you making plans yourself to hit the road?