In 17 days I’m going to Montréal on a 13 hour road trip. I love road trips and I love driving so for me a 13 hour road trip is not a problem. Some people hate them and I can understand their reasons but it’s important to go through the proper steps when planning a road trip to make them more manageable. When they are more manageable they are more fun and even if you’re going through the boring corn fields in the middle of nowhere… it will still be an adventure.
Below are the steps that I take in planning a road trip. Some steps are not for everybody or required but all are helpful. With that let’s start planning a road trip!
Planning a Road Trip
Step 1 – Where do you want to go
Well obviously you need to go to somewhere. Where is a place you’ve always wanted to visit and how far is it from where you live? How much time do you have to travel? The thing about road trips is that they take a while and usually need at least 6 or 7 days. But that’s why you need to do a road trip!
Step 2 – How much money do you have
Money will dictate most travels and it will decide how far you can get down the road. Gas is expensive and renting a car (like what I’m doing to go to Québec) is expensive so I understand that for many people it’s hard to even take a road trip. Make your dollars go further by finding ways to cut back on the hotels and find a place to road trip that is close by. Spend your money on activities and exploring. That’s always worth it.
Step 3 – RoadTripper.com / Google Maps
When planning a road trip you need directions and maps. Fire up your search engine and look for roadtripper.com and get Google Maps up. First type into Google where you are leaving from and traveling to. After that you can start planning your route and the places that you would like to visit. The good thing about Google Maps is that you can always change the route by clicking a section of the route and then dragging to the destination you want to go.
Once you got your route figured out you should go on roadtripper.com and map the same route that you just did on Google Maps. RoadTripper will then give you options for activities you can do like nature, history, shopping, etc… as well as looking up great places to rest and great places to eat. RoadTripper also lets you save your information so you never forget. Once you completed your route it will also give you a estimate of how much money you will spend on gas.
Step 4 – Preparation
Once you have your route figured out it’s time to pack for your trip. Obviously your clothing and travel gear well depend greatly on where you are going but one universal truth is that you always need to pack smartly. The one benefit about road trips is that you can bring as much as whatever can fit in your car but do you really want to have to keep track of all that stuff?
I would choose to just take the essentials and to leave room for things that you may want to buy on your travels. Traveling light is always a better travel experience.
I found a good website that would help in planning a road trip. It shows you a checklist so you don’t forget anything and even has a checklist for your car to make sure it’s running properly.
Also you’re going to need to find hotels and food along your journey. Having done road trips in the past I remember that food can be iffy on the road and it’s hard to find a decent place that is healthy to eat. So this time I was on top of it and looked at potential places I could eat at and make a stop. That way I know ahead of time where I’m eating and how far it was away. Now I know when breaks are coming and I’m prepared to stop. There is no time wasted looking for food.
However if you’re planning a slower paced road trip than perhaps you just want spontaneity and find a place to eat at. I do think it’s a great idea to at least look at a map and have an understanding of the area you’re passing by or visiting to know what is potentially around.
Also it’s important to look out for hotels and you should probably book before you set out on your road trip.
However it could be fun to just go spontaneously and if you don’t know where you will end up that day then perhaps it’s okay to just forget about booking. Many people road trip and sleep in their cars although I probably would never do that unless I was going on a camping trip or something similar.
Also leave time to be spontaneous and allow for side trips that may take up some hours. It’s a great idea if you want to get off the highway and see things more out-of-the-way.
Always bring music or something that is entertaining. Car games are there for a reason. I could never road trip without good music and some entertainment. It helps me get through the long hours. Find a way to hook up your music player/iPod to your car so that you can play it through the speakers.
Stay positive and alert. No point in doing a road trip if you’re going to be grumpy all the time.
Cameras are always a must so you can document your travels.
And ps, always carry change and cash because you never know when you will hit a toll.
Step 5 – Go Road Trip
After planning a road trip, go road trip! Make sure you drive safe and understand the laws to wherever you’re traveling to. For example, in Canada, they use kilometers and liters and they have laws about having winter tires (only in Québec).
I also assume that everybody driving could potentially be dangerous so I’m also looking around me on guard. It’s not like I’m stressed out but more comfortably alert. I just don’t assume that an accident can’t occur from somebody else and accidents do occur randomly. After driving for 8 – 9 years, I’ve never been in an accident because I feel I never have put myself in danger. I speed up past trucks and cars that seem sketchy and I never hang out with a group of cars. Sometimes it’s better to get off the highway.
Also look out for the weather and always pull over if you’re going through something severe like a downpour or a blizzard. Risking your life isn’t worth it and you could always use a rest on a road trip.
So take out a map, prepare your car, bring a friend, grab some snacks, play some music and hunker down for a long but exciting road trip!
images by: neerav