Traveling by plane is relatively simple; there is limited weight for carry-on bags, you know exactly what time your plane is set to depart and arrive, ticket prices are pretty straightforward, etc. Road trips, on the other hand, can have much more unexpected factors. Gas prices vary at every other gas station, cars tend to be fine one minute then steaming the next, and it’s quite easy to get lost or off course. But by following these simple & cost-effective tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your summer road trip experiences while remaining stress free:
- Make sure your car is inspected. Before you set off on your road trip, make sure your car is inspected and anything that needs fixed is fixed. Check the air pressure in your tires (if you don’t know how to do this, learn!), make sure your spare tire is in good shape, and purchase a spare tire if you don’t have one. Preventing possible problems is key for road tripping.
- Know what to do when something goes wrong. If you’re not a “AAA” member, you need to be before you leave for your road trip. They can help you in any state for almost any car problem. For small things, make sure you have jumper cables or a jump box. A roadside emergency kit is also a must-have for long trips in the car. These things are often relatively cheap and can even be found at Wal-Mart.
- Write a list. Make a list of what you need to bring with you that includes things such as clothes and toiletries, snacks, a camera and batteries. Pack ahead of time and set the most important things near the top so you can access them easiest. Personal identification, driver’s licenses, debit cards, and cash are all things you definitely don’t want to forget. If you list it out ahead of time, it’s less likely that you’ll forget something when it comes time to leave.
- Plan out where you want to go. If you want to go the traditional route, buy a large map and mark the major cities or town you’d like to stop at then trace the roads to take between them. One of the simplest ways to plan your trip is by using roadtrippers.com, which allows you to create start & end points but tells you where to go and stop along the way.
- Figure out where to stay. You’re probably not going to spend the night in every city or town you stop at. If you have friends or family in other states, ask them if they’d be willing to let you stay in a guest room or on the couch for a night. Privately owned motels are usually cheaper (though usually less luxurious) than large hotels. If you do decide to stay in a hotel though, use websites like hotels.com that will compare prices so you get the best deal. Since plans may change hourly, it’s hard to make reservations ahead of time.
- Download the appropriate apps. If you decide to use roadtrippers.com to map out your trip, make sure you download the app too. AAA also has a mobile app in which you can request roadside assistance from or even use discounts at over 114,000 locations throughout the country. The GasBuddy app tells you where to find the cheapest gas in the area. All of these are available to download for free and can save you lots of expenses and hassle!
- Ask the locals. Most of the time, people who live in that area know the best-kept secrets. Ask some random people about the best places to eat, the best attractions, or something you must do or see before you leave. Often times they’ll give you answers that wouldn’t come up in a Google search for “places to visit in ______.” Lots of times you’ll get the name of “mom and pop” shops or little hole-in-the-wall restaurants you’d miss otherwise.
- Have fun and capture the memories. Buy the cheap souvenirs like shot glasses and postcards, take as many pictures as you can, and record yourselves on video camera. Learn about the country; see national monuments, parks, and landmarks. Meet and talk to strangers; listen to their stories. Eat great food that is terrible for you. Collect and from beaches, coasters from bars, seashells, napkins, menus, or anything you want to take and can without getting arrested!