planning a road trip

How to Plan a Great Road Trip

The classic road trip vacation is back on the menu for millions of Americans this year, and it’s easy to see why. Traveling in a personal vehicle is a simple way to maintain social distance from strangers in these strange pandemic times. Plus, adventuring across the country with friends will help you to make lasting memories to treasure forever. A road trip is a great compromise vacation between an outdoor adventure vacation and renting a VRBO/AIRBNB.

So, how should you go about planning your road trip getaway? Follow our top tips to make the most of your vacation and avoid any mishaps.

1. Plan your road trip destination

Road trips are about much more than the ultimate destination. However, picking your pitstops wisely will ensure the vacation goes smoothly. Make sure that your final stop is far enough away from your starting point to warrant a road trip, but close enough to avoid excessive traveling. 

The most popular road trip destinations in the US include the National Parks, Las Vegas, the South Oregon Coast, and Northern New England. Feel free to experiment, however, and don’t be afraid to select a more urban destination if you’re traveling with a bunch of city-lovers. 

2. Create a fun road trip itinerary

One of the most foolish things a road tripper can do is to set off without a plan. Before heading off, have a meeting with your travel companions to discuss issues such as:

  • Where you will make pitstops and how long you plan to spend at each one. If you’re a keen sightseer, it may be worth planning your stops around attractions or natural wonders you wish to experience. 
  • How you will divide up the driving responsibilities.
  • How to split the cost of gas.
  • Where you plan to stay at night. If you’re a hardy adventurer, you may wish to sleep in a tent or campervan. If you wish to sleep in a hotel or rental apartment, however, it is sensible to book well in advance of your trip.

Websites like Roadtrippers can assist in planning the perfect itinerary.

3. Choose your road trip companions wisely

Only travel with people you know you’re going to get on with. Spending 24/7 with the same small group of people could spark tension or animosity if your personalities don’t gel. Don’t feel obliged to invite anyone, and make sure that your group lays some ground rules before setting off. You may wish to keep noise to a minimum at certain times of day, for example, or determine rules surrounding personal space. 

4. Create a Budget for your Road Trip

It may sound a little boring, but budgeting carefully will ensure you make the most of your vacation. Expenses to incorporate could include:

  • Meals
  • Lodgings
  • Snacks
  • Activities 
  • Souvenirs
  • Drinks
  • Tolls
  • Gas

5. Choose Your Toad Trip Music Carefully

A road trip just isn’t a road trip without music. It is important, however, to ensure everyone’s tastes are catered for. Sure, you may not appreciate the sound of your friend’s heavy metal band ringing in your ears, but you can always get them back with your favorite pop tunes. You never know – a little bit of diversity could spice up the vacation!

You can use some great playlist tools to help you cultivate the perfect audio experience for your road trip.

Try out some of these fun playlist toys:

6. Pack some great road trip snacks

Even if you plan to purchase meals at restaurants or other food outlets, you won’t regret bringing plenty of snacks with you. Fruits, nuts, protein bars, and a little bit of candy will ensure you don’t get too hungry on the road, while a big bottle of water will prevent dehydration. 

7. Plan for emergencies on your road trip

Emergencies are rare, but it always worth planning for the worst. There’s a reason why so many horror movies get made about badly prepared road trippers! Emergency items pack could include:

  • A spare tire
  • A first aid kit
  • Extra oil and wiper fluid
  • Jumper cables
  • More water than you need
  • A blanket
  • Contact details for emergency services and mechanics

8. Keep a Road Trip Journal

Keeping a journal is generally a good and healthy thing to do. Keeping a journal just about your road trip is a great way of locking in your memories. This is particularly great if you are road tripping with friends. Keep one journal for all of you, passing it around and adding your own observations, musings, poems, and drawings to the official journal of your trip.

Once the trip is done, the journal can be copied, printed with photos, and transformed into a keepsake using services like Scrapbook to Share.

Resources to Help You Plan Your Road Trip Getaway



What are your suggestions to have a great road trip? What is the most important aspect of a road trip?