Who doesn’t love a good road trip? It’s a perfect weekend adventure, it’s affordable, and it’s a fantastic way to stumble across weird and wonderful places you might not see in a travel guide, or that you’d totally miss on a straight-shot flight or train trip.
Road tripping is also a favorite for travelers who aren’t huge planners—it’s fun to toss an overnight bag in the car and drive off in a new direction! And it can be even better if you incorporate these basics into your checklist.
Let’s get to it!
1. Know Your Budget
Before leaving, calculate what you’ll need for fuel, housing, food, attractions, and other expenses. If you’re on a tight budget, this can help with planning the main points of your journey—plus you’ll know your upper limit and wiggle room for any unexpected costs, or for fun extras like souvenirs or access to a roadside attraction that’s too cool to pass up.
2. Plan a Simple Route
You could take off and drive aimlessly, which we like to call playing “Let’s Get Lost!”—but of course the safe thing to do is some simple route planning. If you’re going on a multi-day trip, at least knowing your end point each night is a must. And sharing highlights with a friend or family member will ensure that someone knows where you should be if you’re unexpectedly off the grid.
3. Check Your Car Thoroughly
Before going anywhere, make sure your car is road trip-ready! This includes checking the oil, tires (including spare), brakes, battery, and fluids. Also, make sure your vehicle’s maintenance is up-to-date to avoid any mechanical issues on the road. If you’re not sure about your car, a site like edmunds can help you get the information you need about different cars and what works best for you. And finally, having a roadside emergency kit with essentials like jumper cables, a tire repair kit, and basic tools will give you peace of mind and a helping hand in case of car trouble.
4. Make Safety a Priority
A lot of the fun of a good road trip is in getting lost and discovering new things. But that unfamiliarity that makes an experience so exciting is also what can make it dangerous. Let a few trusted friends or family members know your plans (and how to stay in touch), and make a plan for emergencies—like having a roadside assistance subscription, a physical or downloaded map in case of lost GPS signal, and knowledge of basic car repairs.
5. Plan Your Overnight Stays
If you plan nothing else along your route, knowing where you’ll stay each night of your trip will be a good anchor for you. It’s cheaper than driving around finding a spot that’s open, and you can get creative with figuring out whether you’d like to stay in a hotel, campsite, Airbnb, or something else!
6. Pack Smart
We’ve covered packing a bit on Frayed Passport—read these two guides for highlights:
In addition to your general travel essentials, remember to take along a first aid kit, entertainment, chargers, and plenty of snacks for your trip. Organize your items in separate, accessible containers to keep your vehicle clutter-free.
7. Keep a Flexible Itinerary
Allow time for spontaneous adventures, extra stops, or just to rest if you’re feeling tired. Some of the best road trip memories come from unplanned experiences!
8. Bring Along Extra Entertainment
Download some playlists, podcasts, and audiobooks for your journey—and if you’re traveling with family or friends, there are tons of fun road trip games that everyone can play without needing a screen. And of course, remember your chargers and extra batteries.
9. Document the Journey
Take lots of pictures and jot down notes about your road trip highlights—and share your journey with friends and family along the way so they can enjoy your travels with you, even if they’re not there. Use this time to get creative! Here are a few posts you might like about sharing your stories:
Ready to go? Share your road trip tips and stories with the Frayed Passport community!
About the Author
As the editor-in-chief of Frayed Passport, my goal is to help you build a lifestyle that lets you travel the world whenever you want and however long you want, and not worry about where your next paycheck will come from. I've been to 20+ countries and five continents, lived for years as a full-time digital nomad, and have worked completely remotely since 2015. If you would like to share your story with our community, or partner with Frayed Passport, get in touch with me at email@example.com!
Featured image by Toni Tan on Unsplash