Want to get the inside scoop and some of the best tips for long road trips? How long should you stay on the road before taking a break? How much should you bring? Where to go?
All this and more today as we explore some of the top tips to follow to ensure that your first long road trip is successful and that you do not have to learn the harsh rules of the road the hard way.
1. Grocery Stores, not Gas Stations
No road trip is complete without the obligatory parting of ways with a considerable amount of cash for not that much produce in return. Make your road trip budget last far longer by obtaining your groceries and snacks from a grocery store instead of a gas station.
No matter how many countries you visit, pretty much every single one will fall prey to gas stations that charge a whole bunch more for the essentials. Make your road trip adventure one to remember, even if purely for the majesty and discipline of its budget. This is indeed one of the premier budget travel tips out there.
2. Car Inspection
A sure way to make sure your road-tripping does not cost you a whole bunch more than it should while you are out on the road is to get your car inspected before you head out.
Most chain auto repair stores offer free inspections because they want your custom when they discover something wrong with the car anyhow.
This is simply an opportune moment to ensure that you are not caught with your proverbial pants down. Having your car break down in the middle of nowhere could devolve into something truly hellish. Why not get your tire pressure sorted out while you are at it? Then, you will not need a roadside rescue service to come and save your butt!
3. Daily Mileage
This is an integral part of the journey - this is a road trip after all. Taking the scenic routes is kind of what this is all about. You should not necessarily have as much of a destination in mind as to simply head in a direction and see where it takes you.
Thus, attempting to cover, say, 500 miles each day seems sure to go against the whole point of a road trip. Once you have taken the time to go to some national parks and used some road trip apps, then you have no chance of achieving that 500 miles. And that is the point!
4. Avoiding Rush Hours
Not that it should be a big rush, but sitting in congested traffic and/or waiting around for food at peak dinner times are two of the biggest ways to waste time on a long road trip.
Try eating breakfast after 9 am, then getting lunch at, say, 2 pm, and then consider having an early dinner at 4 pm or a late one after 7 pm.
Likewise, in following the times above, you are likely to avoid driving during the rush hours between 7 and 9 am, and 4 and 6 pm.
5. Pack Everything You Can Fit
You might immediately curse yourself for bringing too much - hikers are ever telling you to pack light - but in about a week or so you will begin to thank yourself.
At a certain point in the journey, you will wish you had brought whatever you were searching for. Plan ahead and try to preempt the kind of things you might miss.
Sure, it is indeed impossible to prepare for every possibility on the road, but try to do so anyway. Driving scenic routes might mean you come upon something that you need something for.
6. Gas on Monday
Studies have been conducted to assess the best and worst times to buy gas in the US, at least in terms of gas prices. The study concluded that Mondays were the cheapest day of the week on average to purchase gas, the best time being at around 10 am.
Unsurprisingly, the worst and most expensive day to purchase gas was on a Friday or the day before a major holiday. During such times, gas prices are likely to spike as soon as the station opens in the morning, to catch the unsuspecting customers when they need it most.
7. Cellular Service
Sure enough, the US is covered with more cellular spots and networks than ever before, and yet there are still plenty of spots around the country where cellular simply will not reach.
One look on Google maps will tell you that the US is a big, big place - and you should not need Google maps to tell you that. You should be ready and prepared to lose your cellular service at some point. Why not download your maps for offline use?
Having your own map is about as useful for getting around as having a spare tire. This is also a great time to learn how to travel alone, too!
Obviously one of the least fun concerns while on the road, doing laundry while you are journeying will save you a whole lot of discomfort. This can be especially useful to know you are driving a rental car. The rental company does not, after all, want its car returned to them smelling of negligence.
Rather than packing every single item of clothing you own, try packing only half as much, instead using laundry services along the way to get the most out of your garments. A useful notion is to bring at least 5 of each item of clothing.
You can scarcely do anything more valuable on the road than simply getting yourself organized. This goes for just about any aspect, whether you are thinking about your route, or all your clothes, your food, and even your packing space.
Take the scenic route as much as you like, safe in the knowledge that when you most need it you will be able to find your best sweater (and will not have to search at the very bottom of the luggage pile for it for a few hours).
A final destination is not entirely necessary but certainly helps dictate the general direction you take.
Something that a lot of people neglect when it comes to going on a long road trip is sleep. Especially if it is your first time out on the road, excitement can tend to dictate your sleep schedule to the point where you will want to stay up all night and all day exploring.
This might work for the first few weeks but pretty soon you will run on empty and begin to dissociate. This can soon sour what was meant to be a fun and liberating time out on the road. In these instances, car breaks can be vital to recovery.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are feeling a little more prepared to conquer the road yourself. These tips are sort of gospel but do not be afraid to interpret them for yourself. A road trip is about seizing the moment and doing what feels right at the time. Do not let a whole host of rules tie you down!
FAQs Tips for Long Road Trips
How long should you drive on a long road trip?
There is plenty of official guidance on this. One such rule suggests that each driver should not drive for more than 10 hours accumulatively during any 24-hour period. This still counts even if you have a break too. This does not account for how far you should travel, though. If you are on a spiritual road trip, then driving so much simply is not the point.
How often should you let your car rest on a road trip?
Official guidance suggests that a car should stop for at least 15 minutes every 2 hours. If it is well maintained, then a car should not need to rest, though the stopping is more for the sanity of the driver. In order for a driver to stay at peak condition and alert, then this is the advisable amount that they should rest on the road.