A roadtrip can be a great way to make some unforgettable memories. Whether driving the entirety of historic Route 66 or visiting several epic national parks, roadtrips can be once-in-a-lifetime experiences. However, you can’t just hop in your vehicle and hit the road. There are some roadtrip rules you must obey if you want to ensure everyone on your trip has a great experience.
Today, we’re sharing five roadtrip rules you should stick to if you want to make the most of your time. Buckle up, and let’s get started!
How Do You Prepare for a Roadtrip?
Some road trippers enjoy jumping in their vehicle and hitting the open road without a plan. They find that part of the adventure is embracing spontaneity and figuring it out as they go. However, while that may be the case for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone. We do about half our trips plan free but we also love a good plan and enjoy the process of plotting our roadtrip adventures.
You should start planning your roadtrip several weeks or even months before your departure date. This allows you to create the best route, plan fuel and hotel stops, and research any fun roadside attractions you don’t want to miss. Give yourself plenty of time to make reservations at hotels or campgrounds and to make any adjustments in your route to see the sights. You don’t want to learn you missed out on seeing or doing something because you didn’t know about it.
As your departure day draws closer, you need to make sure you do any necessary maintenance on your vehicle. Change your oil, check your tires, and make sure there are no obvious signs of an issue with your vehicle. You don’t want to find yourself stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Some things are impossible to predict, but you can do your due diligence to minimize the risks.
Lastly, a week or so before your trip, start packing your bags and gathering any necessary supplies. Check the weather along your route, and remember that temperatures drop quickly when you climb to higher elevations. Don’t forget to stock up on everyone’s favorite roadtrip snacks and goodies. Beef jerky, sunflower seeds, and chewing gum are just a few of our absolute favorites.
When Is the Best Season to Start a Roadtrip?
There’s never a wrong time for a roadtrip. There’s no hard and fast roadtrip rules about when you should take your trip. However, some times are better than others. Typically, summer is the best roadtrip season. This is because schools are out, and many Americans take advantage of the time off to plan vacations. The warmer summer weather means not worrying about snow or ice in many mountainous areas. Plus, you can enjoy aquatic activities during your trip.
While summer may be the best time to start a roadtrip, there’s something special about a fall roadtrip. The fall season means cooler temperatures, which can be great for hiking and getting out in nature. You also can’t underestimate how stunning and impressive the colors can be when the leaves change colors. If you’ve never experienced this, it can be an incredible experience getting to see nature do its thing.
Pro Tip: Want to bring your furry friends along on your roadtrip? Use these 7 Tips to Avoid Mishaps.
5 Old Roadtrip Rules You Should Stick To
While some people feel restricted by rules, they’re essential for a successful roadtrip. A solid set of rules can help ensure everyone has a great experience roaming the country. Here are five roadtrip rules you should follow during your trip.
#1 Always Check Your Car’s Condition Before You Leave
This is our #1 rule for a reason. You must check your car’s condition before you leave. If you don’t know anything about cars, take it to a trusted mechanic and have them do a quick inspection. They’ll likely change your oil, check your tires, and top off your fluids. They’ll look for any obvious signs of issues you should address before hitting the road.
If you don’t inspect your vehicle, you could endanger yourself and your fellow road trippers. Your car could throw in the towel in a very remote area. If that’s the case, you could spend hours on the side of the road and receive an expensive tow bill. So do yourself a favor and ensure your vehicle is in good working condition before starting your trip.
#2 Take Regular Breaks on the Road
Whether you plan out your stops ahead of time or start looking after a few hours, you need to take regular breaks. Spending hours on the open road can be exhausting and mind-numbing. Take regular breaks to use the restroom, eat meals, and stretch your legs if you want to keep grumpy attitudes at bay. If you’re traveling with children, they may not find it enjoyable to sit for several hours at a time on your roadtrip.
Not only does taking breaks help you avoid bad attitudes, but it’s also a great way to stay safe. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 90,000 accidents per year result from drowsy driving. Regular driving breaks can help you stay alert and awake during long stretches of driving.
#3 Plan Your Route Ahead of Time
Planning your route ahead of time ensures you create an efficient route and don’t miss anything. Using resources like Roadside America can help you find some unique places to stop during your trip. You can plug these locations into your route and avoid backtracking or wasting fuel and time. Consider any major attractions, like national or state parks, that you might want to build into your route as well.
Not planning your route can be a recipe for disaster, especially if you’re in a large vehicle or RV. Not all roads are big-rig friendly; if you’re driving a big rig, you’ll quickly discover the value of this roadtrip rule. Mountain passes, low clearances, and crowded streets can be challenging in a big vehicle. You may want to plan your route to avoid them in some cases. So do yourself a favor and research your route ahead of time.
#4 Stock Up on Supplies for the Whole Journey
Is it even on a roadtrip if you don’t stock up on snacks and other goodies? This is one of our favorite parts of every roadtrip! Head to the store and grab a few favorite snacks for everyone in the vehicle. Put them in a bag that’s easily accessible so you can help younger road trippers ration their snacks.
You don’t want to just stock up on snack supplies. Consider any other items that will help keep everyone entertained and comfortable during boring stretches. Crossword puzzles, coloring books, and similar activities can be great for travelers of all ages. These supplies can help you avoid a chorus of constant whining from the backseat.
#5 Drive During the Day Whenever Possible
As we said in roadtrip rule #2, drowsy driving can be hazardous, and you should avoid it at all costs. One of the best ways to avoid driving while tired is to only drive during the day. Plan your stops so you can find a hotel or campsite before dark. This can help you get some rest at the end of the day and prepare for the next day’s adventures.
Driving during the day also makes it easier for the driver to see. Improving your reaction time by a second or two can make the difference between hitting an object or avoiding an accident. Some animals are more active during night hours and will cross the road for no obvious reason. Hitting a large animal like a moose or deer can seriously damage your vehicle and, in some cases, be deadly.
Pro Tip: Drive the National Park to Park Highway route on your next road trip adventure.
What Gear Should You Have for Your Next Roadtrip?
You should have a few essential pieces of gear for any roadtrip. Things like phone chargers, a cell phone mount, a GPS, a first aid kit, and a car safety kit can all help keep you safe while on your trip.
Keep your cell phone battery charged, especially if you’re using it for navigating. Some states have restrictions regarding how drivers can use cell phones while driving, so check the cell phone laws for the states along your roadtrip.
Safety items like the car safety kit and first aid kit are important because you never know when you’ll need to use them. However, if you need to use them, you’ll be glad you have them.
Another essential roadtrip rule is to always have some food and water in the vehicle, especially when traveling in remote locations. Your vehicle could let you down, and you could find yourself stranded on the side of the road. Depending on your location and the time of year, going without air conditioning or food and water could be very dangerous. If you’re traveling in colder weather, pack some extra warm clothes and keep a blanket in your vehicle.
How to Plan Your Roadtrip Route
Whether traveling in a passenger vehicle or an RV, the route you choose for your roadtrip is important. Passenger vehicles can plug their stops into an app like Google Maps or Apple Maps, providing them with the fastest route. However, you should always double-check the route as even Google and Apple can be imperfect from time to time, especially in remote portions of the country.
While Apple and Google Maps are great options for passenger vehicles, RVers can’t trust them. This is because RVs are often much larger. Those driving or towing an RV must worry about low clearances, weight limits, and tight turns.
We recommend using RV Trip Wizard to help plan RV roadtrips. You can input your RV’s dimensions, and the software will create a safe route. You can do all your planning on your computer and then pull up turn-by-turn directions on your phone.
Pro Tip: Use this guide on How to Use RV Trip Wizard to Plan an RV Road Trip to make your planning easy!
Stay Safe on Your Next Adventure on the Road
Safety should be your highest priority, especially on a roadtrip adventure. While roadtrips can be unpredictable and exciting, following the five roadtrip rules we’ve discussed today can help you stay safe. If things go wrong, you’ll have the necessary gear and supplies to make the most of a bad situation. Do yourself a favor and spend plenty of time planning your roadtrip so you can make the most out of every second and mile during your trip.
What are your go to roadtrip tips and tricks? Tell us in the comments!
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