Whether it’s an incredible cross-country trip lasting months or a short jaunt for a long weekend, a road trip always has a particular kind of charm. A large part of how enjoyable it will be, though, comes down to the planning. It’s rare that a completely spontaneous road trip will ever go smoothly and easily, so if you want to have the road trip you’ve been dreaming of, it’s worth investing a little extra time to do your research into it beforehand.
Read on to find out what you should look up before you hit the road.
Decide on the duration
Before you can commit to a road trip, the first and most obvious thing you will need to know is the amount of time you can afford to spend on it. This may be influenced by several different factors. If you are traveling alone, you may have more flexibility and choice, but if you plan to go on a trip with someone else, you will need to factor in their own commitments and needs before coming to a clear agreement.
The duration will also affect other preparations for the trip, from deciding what kind of vehicle you may want to use, the kind of equipment you choose to take, and how often, and where, you choose to stop over.
Duration can also be impacted by external factors such as commitments with work. Some may be fortunate enough to be able to work while still enjoying the adventure of traveling, but for many other people, compromises and choices may need to be made about the amount of time you can step away from your daily routine.
Pick a destination and route
Every journey needs a destination and a clear way of getting there. If you’ve never learned how to read a map, now might be the perfect time. While digital navigation systems can be an enormously useful tool, it is always a good idea to be able to use more traditional ways to get around in case of difficulties with technical equipment, a lack of reception, or simply to enjoy a slower pace of life.
If you are planning a short and simple road trip with only a few hours of driving involved, then you can afford to leave route-planning until closer to your departure. However, if you are thinking of an extensive journey covering large areas of the country, or even traveling internationally, then it is essential to research the route in depth. There are many factors that can affect your travel – such as weather conditions during different times of the year. Statistics and data about weather (click here for further information) can provide a useful indication about what kind of environmental conditions you can expect during your planned travel dates, and help you prepare adequately in advance. You may need to include additional equipment in your packing for instance.
Set a clear budget in mind
Road trips have a tendency of becoming a lot more expensive than you may have originally anticipated. Even if you have a well-planned travel budget to save up for the journey of your dreams, there are still many other factors that can affect how successfully you can afford to go away on a driving adventure.
One of the main outlays for planning a road trip is deciding the type of vehicle you want to use, as well as where you may decide to stop over, accommodation, and what kind of equipment and extras you choose to take with you. There are several options out there, from choosing a basic rental car and opting to camp along the way, to hiring a fully kitted out camper van that gives you the flexibility to enjoy the more remote parts of your journey without needing to hunt down a hotel.
Get all of your paperwork together
While you would rather hope that nothing untoward happens on your road trip, it’s always a good idea to be prepared and getting your travel insurance sorted out should be a top priority before you set off. There are several providers to choose from, all offering a variety of coverage and protection, so it is wise to do plenty of research beforehand and think about what is most suitable for your planned trip.
As well as insurance, you may need to check up on other types of paperwork, particularly if you are traveling between different areas with changing regulations or laws. Once your have checked and gathered all of the appropriate paperwork, ensure that you keep it all together in a safe place where it is easy to get to. If all of your important paperwork is on a digital device such as your laptop, phone or tablet, it is a good idea to keep a back up version in print, in case you are not able to power up or use your device in an emergency.
Start planning your trip
Working out the route and all the practicalities is one important part of setting the groundwork for the perfect road trip, and once that it all done, it’s time to move on to the more enjoyable parts. Take some time to plan any highlights and must-sees on your route or at your destination. Knowing some of what you’d like to see and do in advance can provide a useful structure to your time away and prevent you from wasting valuable time trying to work out what to do next or frustrated arguments between travelers.
Of course, there is such a thing as over-planning and the last thing you want is to map out every minute of your trip in minute detail. So while you may want to schedule in some key attractions, be sure to also leave plenty of room and time to enjoy more spontaneous discoveries, hidden routes and enjoyable moments. After all, those are likely to be the times that you will look back on with the fondest of memories and you can never have too many of those.