How to plan a road trip in 10 easy steps
You always wanted to go on a road trip but you don't know where to start? Then, you're in the right place. In this guide, we will tell you how to plan a road trip.
Now that the borders are opening for travel you may be itching to travel again. Or maybe you prefer driving to flying. No matter what the situation, this guide will help you plan a road trip.
Table of Contents
- How much time do you have?
- Select your starting point
- Choose your destinations
- Create an itinerary
- Ensure your car is fit for the trip
- Prepare your documents
- Create your budget
- Select your accommodation
- Plan for the unexpected
- Entertain yourself while you're on the road
- Summary of tools to use when you plan a road trip
How much time do you have?
The first and most important thing to know when you want to plan a road trip is how much time you have. For instance, if you only have a couple of days, you should limit your destinations, so that you can get to enjoy the attractions. However, if you have two weeks or longer, then you can definitely widen your search. In order to be able to enjoy yourself during a road trip, you should not drive more than 3 hours on average per day.
Select your starting point
The second step in planning your road trip is to decide if you are leaving from your home or not. This means you should decide if you will use your own car or if you will rent a car. Moreover, the starting point is important in order to help you choose your destinations.
This step is important to help you figure out if you must start and return to the same destination. That is in case you choose to drive your own car. By contrast, if you rent a car you have more flexibility as you usually can drop-off the rental car in a different spot.
Choose your destinations
The next step when you plan a road trip is to choose your destinations. You may already know where you want to go, but if you don't, here are a few tips for choosing your destinations:
- Get inspired from travel blogs or Instagram on beautiful destinations
- Make a list of places and attractions you always wanted to see
- Categorize them in blocs depending on the proximity and prices or any other important aspects
Check out GetYourGuide.co.uk for amazing attractions and tours.
Create an itinerary
Here, Google Maps comes in handy. Add all the destinations you chose in the previous step in the tool in order to see the trip duration between your destinations. This will help you figure out:
- When and where you should stop
- Where you should stay
- Any other attractions along the way that you can explore
Ensure your car is fit for the trip
This step is mostly useful if you are using your own car for the road trip. The best thing to do is to take your car for a full check-up prior to your trip. The most important things to check are:
- Proper functioning of all lights
- Check all liquid levels, such as water, oil, brake fluid
- Verify tire pressure and tire age
- Make sure you have the spare key with you (helpful in case of emergency)
- To have the necessary toolkit for changing tires or anything else
- To have a spare tire
- Make sure you also have a car medical emergency kit
Prepare your documents
We had issues with this step twice. Therefore, we want you all to avoid the trouble of not having the necessary documentation when you plan a road trip. First, ensure you have all the car documents and make sure your car has cover in the destinations you're passing through. Secondly, check your validity on your driver's license and ID/passport.
This will help you ensure you're good to travel and that you don't need to renew any of those one day before you leave. It may also be good to have a copy of all with you.
Create your budget
Although a road trip may sometimes seem less expensive than flying to your destinations, there are a few things you should consider. We recommend creating a rough budget in order to know how much you should spend in each place, on accommodation, food, and so on.
So, the things you should consider in your budget are:
- Gas costs and refills
- Insurance - check out True Traveller or Heymondo for the best insurance policies
- Tolls - check out this toll calculator if you plan to drive through North America or India, or this one for Europe
- Parking fees
- Food prices
- Accommodation prices
- Attraction fees
You can use Google Maps in order to see which routes have tolls. In addition, we use Numbeo in order to find out the rough prices in each destination. We prefer to add an extra 20% on top of the costs we find, just to leave room for unexpected costs.
Select your accommodation
After you created a budget, you should know how much you can spend on accommodation. We usually use booking.com or Airbnb in order to book our stays. If you plan to use a tent, you can also search booking.com for camping sites. The most important thing when choosing your accommodation is to make sure you have parking included. Otherwise, you may spend more on parking fees.
Plan for the unexpected
You should be prepared for your plans to change unexpectedly during your road trip. Therefore, we recommend you to:
- Use Waze in order to stay up-to-date with traffic on your route
- Choose accommodations that have flexible cancellation policies
- Check with your hotel if the have flexible check-in and check-out times
Entertain yourself while you're on the road
Last but not least, make sure you have fun whether you're driving or you're in the passenger seat. Ensure you have a playlist that you can use offline when the radio signal is not great. You can also download some audiobooks to keep you entertained. Another thing you can do is to search for games to play during your road trip.
Summary of tools to use when you plan a road trip
|Itinerary planner||Google Maps|
|Attractions and tours||GetYourGuide.co.uk|
|Route and traffic planner||Waze|
|Travel insurance||Heymondo or True Traveller|
|Cost of living||Numbeo|
|Accommodation||Booking.com or Airbnb|
Tollguru for North America and Indiatolls.eu - toll calculator for Europe
If you enjoyed reading this article, check out our other posts on planning your travels.