The road trip is a phenomenon seemingly as old as the automobile itself. Way back when, a road trip was simply to the next town over. These days it is possible to travel across an entire country. While a road trip with your buddies or significant other may differ in purpose and content from a family road trip, it will always be an affordable way to see the sights and spend time with the people who you care about.
That said, what seems like a simple concept (get in the car and drive) can often be derailed by unforeseen circumstances and poor planning. While there are many things you cannot prepare for, there are several ways to get ready for a road trip that can make the trip run more smoothly and make it much more enjoyable for everyone. If you are planning a road trip or intend to soon, below are 5 things to consider.
- Destination and Route: While many people just want to hit the open road and see where destiny takes them, not having at least a general destination in mind can result in disaster. Multiple route options are ideal as well. Weather could make the scenic route more treacherous, but on the other hand you could miss a lot of landmarks if you do not plan to drive past them. This plan does not have to be especially rigid, but it can help you prevent unintentionally driving several 8 hour stretches. This is much easier than it used to be with today’s technology with such planning apps as Roadtrippers or TripIt.
- Budget: While driving to a destination is much cheaper and more about the journey than flying, expenses can add up very quickly. For example, you may want to meander around an area to see the sights, but gas prices can accumulate, so best see what you can on foot. Apps like Gas Buddy can help you save money on gas. Prepare as much as you can to eat beforehand and share rooms if possible. There are several online travel calculators that can assist in this process.
- Parking: While you are driving to most cities or towns, once you get to that destination you will probably want to get out and explore. Unfortunately, in many places parking is not always easily accessible or the rules are unclear. For example, Chicago parking rules differ from New York City parking rules. Fortunately, Parqex has a very helpful parking app that can help in that area. If other cities do not have similar apps, try and scout ahead for discount parking or places you can rent parking for the day. Downtown parking can be especially difficult to find in certain places so take into account the size of the city.
- Cash: Even though many people do not like to carry a lot of cash with them, it is important to have some on a road trip for multiple reasons. Toll booths seem to appear in the most random places, and many parking stands still only take cash so make sure to carry both bills and coins. It is also a good idea to keep this in a place other than your wallet in case it is misplaced or stolen.
- Stay In Touch: Make sure a friend or family member has a copy of your general itinerary and check in regularly to keep them updated about any changes. This way in anything happens to you or you fail to check in, there is someone who is aware that things may not be ok. Turning on apps like Find My Friends alerts people to your location at all times if assistance is needed.
Of course, there are other important considerations such as proper packing and making sure your car is in the best possible shape. Road trips are a shared common experience that unites us as both individuals and as a culture. That said, it is true that many people look back at their road trips growing up and only recall the broken down car or fighting siblings, so make sure to prepare adequately in order to avoid a negative experience. Contact us to learn more about parking options or any other ways we can help make the trip one that your family and/or friend will remember with a smile.