There are many ways to travel these days, and while some people prefer flying because it’s fast and convenient, there’s something alluring and exciting about hitting the open road. Whether traveling with friends, family, or colleagues, road trips are a great way to get some quality time in with the ones you love.
According to an article from Consumer Reports, nearly two-thirds of American families planning to travel this year are expected to take a road trip (this is more than 56 million people!)
While road trips are great fun and excitement, it can take some prep work to ensure your trip goes without a hitch. We’ve compiled some tips to help you plan the perfect road trip below, so you can have a stress-free and relaxing time on the road with your friends or family.
Decide On The Vehicle
One of the most important things to consider for your road trip is what kind of vehicle you’d like to drive. If you drive a large truck, SUV, or van, you may want to consider other vehicles because these don’t get the best gas mileage. If you plan on traveling with more than three people, make sure you have plenty of room for your passengers so you’re not spending hours cramped in the back of a van.
Take The Time To Plan Your Route
Before you pack your bags and hit the road for your trip, you’ll want to figure out a few logistics first. If you’re traveling with family members, take the time to discuss the possible destinations you would like to travel to. If everyone is up for hiking and outdoor activities, consider taking a road trip to Colorado. On the other hand, if beaches are more of your style, you can plan a trip to Southern California. In order to set the right expectations for yourself and your passengers, ask yourself the following questions:
- How many days do you plan to be on the road?
- Do you want to drive straight to your destination or make pit stops along the way?
- Will you bring your own snacks or do you plan on eating out during your travels? Keep in mind, eating out for three meals a day can be quite costly. We recommend bringing some of your own snacks and stopping at a few new restaurants on the way.
- How do you plan to divvy up the driving responsibilities? Will you switch drivers when someone gets tired or do you plan on an hourly rotation?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a clear outline of the road trip ahead.
Download Road Trip Apps
If you’ve never planned a road trip before, you probably feel a bit of pressure when it comes to mapping out your trip and itinerary details. Luckily, smartphones can do much more than call and text. If you have an Android or Apple cell phone, there are a variety of apps you can download that will help with your trip planning. Some of our favorite road trip apps include:
There’s nothing like driving in a rural area on an empty gas tank wondering when the next gas station will pop up. iExit is an incredible tool that you can use to find restaurants, WiFi, restrooms, gas stations, and more on the road. When you open this app up on your smartphone, it will automatically find your geo-target on the highway. From there, it will show you all of the upcoming exits, along with a variety of fun icons that represent what amenities are offered where.
If you’re trying to calculate how much money you’ll need for tolls during your road trip, you’ll want to download TollGuru to your smartphone. With this easy-to-use app, you can easily calculate how much tolls and gas will cost for a wide selection of vehicles (including motorcycles, cars, RVs, and SUVs). It’s important to note that this app will only help with routes in the United States and Canada.
With a new city, comes new parking obstacles. Finding affordable parking lots in places like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles can be a real hassle. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be when you download the ParkMe app on your Android or Apple phone. This app will show you all of the possible parking garages and street parking spaces around your area (or anywhere you want to search on the map). You also have the option of filtering your search by the cheapest parking spots available. Once you find a parking space, there is a simple built-in timer you can set to warn you when your meter will expire.
Bring A Real Map
While smartphones and GPS systems can come in handy on the road, what happens when you lose WiFi or cell service in the middle of nowhere? Do you keep driving in hopes that you’ll stumble upon a hotspot? To avoid this all-too-common problem, we highly recommend bringing a real map with you on your road trip. If you’re traveling with young children, they’ll get a kick out of learning how their parents used to get from point A to point B, and they may have some fun studying the atlas in the backseat.
Find Unique Ways To Save Money
All road trips require a budget. If you’re looking for ways to save a little bit of money on the road, there are a few things you can do. Your most expensive necessity is going to be gas, so make sure you do some research on the gas prices on your route. You can also consider:
- Filling up your road trip vehicle with gas the day before you leave. You should have an idea where the best gas prices are in your area. This will give you a nice start as you head out on the open road.
- Driving the speed limit at all times. This is not only significantly safer for you and your loved ones, it can save you money in gas. According to the US Department of Energy, drivers that drive the speed limit can save anywhere between 5 to 30% in gas mileage on the highway.
Schedule Routine Maintenance For Your Car
Before you hit the ol’ highway, take the time to make sure that your vehicle is in tip-top shape. You don’t want to hit the road at eight in the morning, only to have the check engine light go off a few miles down the road. Do your car some due diligence and schedule an appointment at your local auto mechanic shop. A professional mechanic will be able to make sure your vehicle has all of its vital fluids, and they’ll be able to tell if you a major repair is needed before you leave for your trip. It’s also important to make sure you have the necessary tools and equipment to change a flat tire, should you get one during your travels.
Don’t Be Afraid To Be Spontaneous
Once you’ve taken the time to map out your trip, remember that one of the best things about a road trip is the fact that you get to be spontaneous. Be sure to build a little bit of freedom into your itinerary. If you plan on driving for ten hours one day, take the next day to explore some new restaurants, attractions, or must-see parks.
Make A Fun Playlist To Jam To
While a quiet car can be nice at times, you’ll definitely want to listen to some quality jams while you’re driving cross-country. Before your trip, make sure you set aside some time to create a driving playlist or two so you’re prepared before you hit the road. You can use your smartphone, iPod, or MP3 player to make a list of your favorite songs. If you plan on traveling with friends, ask them to make their own playlist as well so there is never a shortage of good music.
We hope that this article has been helpful as you start to plan your road trip. If you plan on flying out of the Denver International Airport (DIA) and you’re looking for a safe and secure place to park your car, reserve a parking space with ParkDIA today. We offer uncovered, covered, and valet parking spaces near DIA, and when you download our easy-to-use mobile app, you can easily reserve a space online. Be sure to browse our parking rates and options.