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5 Hacks For Planning The Ultimate Road Trip, According To Travel Experts

With the start of the new semester, you’re probably already dreaming of having time off. Think about it: No overwhelming workload or schedule, so you can finally embark on an epic road trip with friends or family. Sounds ideal. Spring break may seem like an eternity away, but before you know it, it’ll be around the corner and you still won’t have thought of how to prep for your time on the road…though I may be slightly self-projecting here. Whether you’re already searching for the perfect bikini for a possible trip by the pool or you’re going to procrastinate until right before spring break, you’ll probably come across some lingering questions about how to even initiate planning a spring break road trip. 

Let’s be honest — planning is a struggle. And while it might be tempting to bank on the lucky girl syndrome to miraculously drop the perfect spring break plans into your lap, you’re going to need to do some work here, bestie. Don’t worry: I’ve got you covered with different tips and tricks to help the process go smoother. Here are five hacks for planning the ultimate road trip during spring break and beyond, according to two travel experts.

Start planning details of the trip ASAP.

“Generally speaking, the sooner you start planning, the better,” advises Pradeep Guragain, co-founder of the travel guide website Magical Nepal. “This is because the more time you have to plan, the more likely you are to come up with a well-thought-out and efficient route. Additionally, starting to plan early gives you more time to research different aspects of your trip, such as where to stay overnight and what attractions to visit along the way.”

I understand how tempting it is to wait until the last minute and go on a spontaneous road trip with your friends, but sometimes, a little planning ahead of time can save you a headache later on.

Know in advance where you’re going to sleep.

“I find great peace of mind if I know where we will sleep each night,” Hanna Ashcraft, travel blogger for Moderately Adventurous Travel Blog, tells Her Campus. Determining what kind of accommodation or potential campgrounds you might be headed to as a pit stop or destination during your trip, according to Ashcraft, can be one of the best pre-planning strategies. “By planning in advance and choosing where you sleep before you head out, it reduces stress [since] you’ll know and creates milestones that you need to reach by the end of the day because you can build your day around how far you need to drive to reach your [sleep] accommodations.”

Check out accommodation websites like Hotels.com that can show you the amenities and rates for hotels, hostels, and more along your route in your price range. Make sure you get your much-needed zzzs so you have enough energy for all the fun activities this spring break!

Bring a cooler for on-the-go snacks.

Have you ever been in the middle of a trip and suddenly gotten extremely hungry? You could be miles away from the nearest restaurant or gas station for any type of food. Instead of letting your stomach rumble on your next road trip, Ashcraft recommends bringing a cooler filled with necessary snacks.

“Bring more snacks than you think you need,” she says. “The variety will be exciting after hours of driving! I’m also a big fan of bringing food with me on trips, so we spend less time in restaurants and more time at our destination. Sit-down restaurants can be a nice break, but they are also a time suck. Consider bringing a cooler with food that is easy to assemble on the road (e.g sandwiches or snack kits), a variety of beverages (e.g., water, coffee, smoothie or juices, soda, etc.), and snacks galore.” A cooler like this Coleman Ice Chest from Amazon ($40) will help keep all your items in one safe place.

Switch drivers regularly.

Ashcraft advises taking turns at the wheel if you have a travel buddy on long-distance road trips. “That way, no one has to power through a section when they are tired,” she explains. And if everyone is too tired to drive, consider pulling over for a nap.” Switching drivers is a great way to consider everyone’s safety on the trip, and it will allow the trip to continue without many pit stops. A win-win!

Try using different planning tool apps.

“There are a number of different planning tools available for first-time travelers, including Google Maps, Road Atlas, and Roadtrippers,” Guragain says. “All of these tools can be helpful in different ways, so it’s worth taking some time to explore each one before deciding which one is right for you.” 

Road travel apps are a convenient way of navigating the direction of your trip and planning your itinerary. Ashcraft recommends apps like GasBuddy to find the nearest gas station for a quick pit stop, as well as entertainment apps like Spotify and audiobook apps like Audible, Audiobooks.com, and Hoopla to make the long drive bearable and enjoyable. “It can be fun to choose a book that everyone has wanted to read, or a book where the location is set where you’ll be going,” Ashcraft suggests.

Happy planning, besties, and safe travels on your vacation!

Siobhan Robinson is a member of the Her Campus national writing program. She works on the Entertainment and Culture team, covering the most recent pop culture events, trends, and entertainment releases. Previously, she worked as an Entertainment and Culture intern during the Spring 2023 semester, where she was supervised in writing breaking news verticals, live coverage of events such as the Grammys and Met Gala, and interviewing emerging Gen Z talent for Her Campus's "Next Questions" segment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Spring 2024 with a B.A. in Communication Studies from San Jose State University and received communication honors for completing a graduate-level course during her undergraduate studies. While in college, she was an active member of the SJSU chapter of Her Campus, serving on the executive board as Editor-In-Chief. In this role, she supervised a team of writers, senior editors, and copy editors, and assessed their articles for the site. Previously, she served as a senior editor, supervising a team of 4-5 writers, and also worked as a campus correspondent for the entire chapter. Additionally, she contributed to the school's publication magazine, Access, and became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. In her free time, Siobhan enjoys scrapbooking, hanging out with friends, going to concerts, and, of course, writing for fun! A die-hard fangirl, she loves sharing everything she knows about her favorite boy bands, even if you don't ask. If you need her, you'll likely find her binge-watching the latest K-drama or catching up on pop-culture social commentaries on YouTube.