How to Plan a Road Trip

Travelling by car can be a real adventure – beautiful scenery, lovely roads, getting away – but it can also be the trip from hell. Be prepared and stay amused is my motto for getting my kicks on Route 66.

Be prepared

The inside of your car is where you’re going to be, so clean it. Make sure all the layers of dust are removed from both inside and outside the windows to give you a clean outlook. Give the whole car a thorough vacuum and throw away all the rubbish under your seats and in the glove compartment. Wipe down the instrument panel and make sure that you can read the speedometer – you don’t want be caught out going way too fast.

Check all the essentials: oil, fuel, tyre pressure, windscreen fluid. Make sure that you have a spare tyre, a spanner, a jack and some water for emergencies. Bring a spare set of car keys that you carry with you at all times – just in case. Keep any vehicle or insurance documents locked in your glove compartment, along with any roadside assistance cards. Keeping your car cool with car window shade creates a more comfortable environment for children and pets. Spare change at your fingertips is a must for any road tolls or quick phone-box stops. Keep an emergency first aid kit and an old blanket in the car: you never know when you might need them.

Know where you are going. Get out the maps and mark the pages. If there is a designated map-reader, make sure they do their homework and study the route before you begin. Tempers can flare when you’ve missed the turning for the third time. Remember to bring your reading glasses if you need them – they will be essential!

Stay amused

Keep the creature comforts close to hand. Ideally, your car will be equipped with a holder for your cappuccino and have a great stereo – two things that can make the trip seem like a holiday. Plan your tunes well; choose a variety of all your favourites to cover every mood, particularly if your journey is long.

Kids and pets need to be amused too. Children are easily bored and you do not want the holiday to start off with frustration or tears. Personal headsets, Gameboys or favourite toys can distract the kids for part of the time, but if you can, also play some car games as a group. Find the alphabet in order on number plates or play l-Spy – the old ones are often the best.

If you have pets, they need to see out of the window and have a good sniff of what’s going on outside the car. Cover the seats with an old blanket and bring along some chews and water. Never bring a squeaky toy – it will drive you to distraction. To let them drink without mess, keep a plastic bowl in the car that you can fill during the journey.

All but the kitchen sink

When packing, keep anything you might need during your journey or for an overnight stop in the boot, but if there’s no room for people when you’ve finished packing the car, stop in the name of love. If you’re not comfortable the chances are the trip will be doomed from the start. You need to go back to the packing basics. Make sure you’ve been decisive and limited yourself to the bare essentials. If there is still no room in the car, there’s no way but up: it’s the roof or nowhere.

Start with a good, solid roof-rack that you firmly attach to the car. Remember the laws of aerodynamics and make sure to minimise any wind resistance by always stacking luggage horizontally and distributing the weight evenly across the whole roof.

Put your heaviest suitcases on the bottom layer and keep stacking according to the weight of the luggage. When complete, cover the luggage pile on the roof-rack with a waterproof tarpaulin and secure it down at the corners and sides with bungee cords.

When driving, try not to make any sudden stops or you could find all your luggage crashing around your ears. And take care when driving around corners so that the weight of the luggage doesn’t unbalance the car. If you’re properly prepared, you’ll get to your destination with no trouble at all and will have had some fun on the way.

Filed Under: General How To's


About the Author: Carl Tackett is a travel enthusiast. He has traveled to over 50 destinations all over the world. Currently, he is residing in England. He loves to write about traveling and helping fellow travelers.

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