Decide Your Destination
The first thing you need to decide is how far you want to travel. This will depend on how much money you have to spend, how far you’re willing to venture away from home, and how much time you have to spend on your trip. And, think about timings too. You can go a lot further on Spring Break than you can on a three-day weekend.
The next decision you need to make is where you want to go. Are you feeling the beach, woods, or city vibes? If you’re camping, do plenty of research ahead of time and book spots in advance. If you’re more in the hotel or motel mood, again do research and plan where you’ll stay. Think about the needs of your fellow road trippers too and check in with them what they want from a place to stay. You can find hotel deals and discounts on lots of different apps, so do your research. And, if you’re traveling with someone that has a wheelchair, these tips will help make your vacation go smoothly.
Once you’ve chosen your destination, now comes a not-so-fun—but a very necessary, part of the preparation: budgeting. First, calculate how many miles there are there and back, then divide that by the mileage of your vehicle and multiply by the average gas price in your area.
Next, check the nightly price of the hotel or campground. After you have your total for gas and lodging, estimate how much money you need to spend. If your hotel includes breakfast, you won’t have to worry about that cost. Otherwise, you’ll need to set money aside for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner. You should pack as much food as possible, but if it’s longer than a weekend trip, you’ll need to buy food.
Breakfast is typically the cheapest, so $5-$10, lunch is a little more at $10-$15. And, dinner is typically the most expensive, so $15-$25. Depending on where you go, you might want souvenirs too. Postcards, magnets, and key chains are the cheapest options, so you can spend more of your money on the actual trip.
Draw up a budget list on your Notes app or use a cost-splitting app to help divide up any payments equally among all your passengers. This will avoid disagreements or awkward conversations about money later down the line.
When you’re planning your route, you should factor in stops not just for gas but to rest. Don’t drive for more than two hours before taking a break. It’s always a great idea to have at least two of you as drivers, but the more the merrier if you have several others willing to pitch in. This makes sure no one gets fatigued. But make sure everyone is insured that will be driving.
Plan stops around gas but also any tourist attractions too. For example, you could check out Mount Rushmore, The Grand Canyon, or Natchez Trace Parkway. Just take a look at what places are on the route. The United States is filled with places you can explore on your way to where you want to go.
The Fun Stuff
Next comes the most fun part of the planning: creating a playlist, packing snacks, and planning stops on the way. If you and your friends all love Taylor Swift, that will make it easier, but if you all have a mix of different tastes, make sure to include something for everyone. The longer the trip is, the longer your playlist is to keep things interesting. You should also pick upbeat songs. These will give you energy for the drive.
Next, plan your snacks. For example, individual chip bags, fruit, carrots, and granola bars are all great options because they are easy to pack for traveling. With two front pockets, the Granby is perfect for stashing snacks. Make sure to stay hydrated, too, so lots of water—the Lodo Pack is great for this because it has two water bottle pockets. You can also pack sandwiches for the weekend. Other options include packing charcuterie boxes, quinoa or pasta salad. Just make sure to keep things cold with a Lunch Bag or cooler. Bagels are also an easy option for breakfast. There are plenty of options to save you from buying food on the trip.
And, if you’ll be hitting the trails, make sure you pack all the essentials for your hike.
For more tips for your road trip, check out the best bags for a week-long trip.