Travel Advice for a Memorable Road Trip
A new poll conducted by a North Carolina-based travel agency found that while people are comfortable traveling, the vast majority – 72% – prefer to drive. Fortunately, road trips are an excellent way to travel. You get to experience lots of different things, fun road trips are typically more affordable than air travel, and physical distancing is built right in.
Beyond that, there’s something about a road trip that’s especially memorable. Maybe it’s the fact that with the best road trips, the journey truly is the destination. You don’t have to wait until you arrive to start making memories. On the contrary, off-key singalongs, unplanned stops, or even mishaps along the way often end up being the most memorable parts of the trip.
The Great Summer Road Trip is a time-honored tradition and will surely be the preferred method of travel for the foreseeable future. To that end, here are some tips to help you plan one of the most memorable and best road trips in the world.
The best road trips begin before they even start
One of the most appealing aspects of road trips is that you can take one almost on a whim and without having a rigid itinerary. However, a secret of the best road trip planners is that some planning will help guarantee the trip is a success.
While it can absolutely be fun to hop in the car without any specific destination in mind, it’s much more beneficial to decide on a “theme” before hitting the road. Approaching your trip this way will ensure that you still visit plenty of sites and attractions, but provides some loose structure for fun road trips. For example, if you’re a nature lover, choose road trip places that include national parks or bucket-list hikes. Foodies may enjoy creating a route based on hot restaurants – or divey roadside diners. If you’re seeking a relaxing getaway, the best places to road trip may be the mountains or beach.
The idea is to be flexible, but also set realistic parameters and expectations. Decide how much time you have, how much money you can spend, and what your must-see stops are, then build a rough itinerary that guarantees you’ll make it to them and leaves enough wiggle room to fit in some would-like-to-see places.
Another aspect of planning the best North American road trip (that’s admittedly not nearly as fun) is having your vehicle serviced beforehand. Even if it isn’t technically due yet, it’s important to get an oil change, have your battery checked, ensure your tires are properly inflated, and top up fluids. Don’t forget to check the condition of your spare tire and if you don’t have one, you should strongly consider getting one. Making sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape will not only give you peace of mind, but greatly reduces the chances of having car trouble on the road. If you’re renting a vehicle, double-check with the agency that they’ve inspected the car and don’t be afraid to ask when the last time it was serviced.
Stock up on the essentials while planning your road trip
Anyone who’s ever taken one knows that the best road trip is one that involves plenty of snacks and entertainment. Before leaving, create a fun road trip-worthy playlist and download any audiobooks or podcasts you may want to listen to. If you’re traveling with children, it’s a good idea to download games or movies to keep them occupied. There are also some free apps that serve as the best road trip planners, such as GasBuddy for helping you find nearby gas stations and prices, as well as RoadTrippers, which offers route suggestions and makes hotel and restaurant recommendations along the way. Double and maybe even triple-check before leaving that everyone has chargers for their devices.
Road trip snacks are a given, but it’s wise to put some thought into them. Consider having everyone pick one favorite junk food, but otherwise stick with easy-to-eat, non-messy snacks that are high in protein and fiber and low in sugar. Carrots, apples, nuts, trail mix, and pre-made rollups are all great choices. This will help prevent headaches and stomachaches, two issues you don’t want to deal with on the road. Don’t forget to stash some wet wipes and grocery bags in the center console so you can quickly clean up messes.
Find a new way to experience each stop
Remember that a huge part of the best North American road trips is the drive itself. It’s easy to pass right through tiny, run-down looking towns, but you never know what there might be to see or do (or eat!). Your trip will be much more manageable and enjoyable if you break driving into chunks of 2-4 hours and stop in between. Be open to new experiences and when you stop, ask local business owners for recommendations. Where would they take a friend that was in town for just the day? If possible, bring bicycles on the trip so you can get some fresh air and exercise while checking out the town. Larger cities will likely also have a number of bike or scooter rental companies.
To find out about local events, check the town’s Chamber of Commerce website. There may be a farmers’ market or street festival during your visit, which are great places to experience authentic local culture and cuisine at reasonable prices.
Expect the unexpected
Once you’ve decided where you’re going and you’re set on fun road trip snacks and entertainment, turn your attention to preparing for the unexpected. Create a DIY emergency kit with distilled drinking water (a good rule of thumb is one gallon per person), non-perishable snacks, a first-aid kit, blankets, a vehicle battery charger, and jumper cables. Make sure to test things like jumper cables and the battery charger before leaving so you’re familiar with how to use them in the event that you actually need to. You may also want to bring some toilet paper and if you’re traveling with young children, a portable toilet is a good idea also.
Finally, consider bringing some cash and small change. Not all places accept credit card payments, especially in rural areas, and you may encounter cash-only toll roads.
Whether you’re searching for the best Canadian road trips or the best road trips in the USA, Coast Hotels will be there for you along the way. We have nearly 40 locations throughout North America and promotions designed specifically for road trips, plus helpful trip-planning resources on our No Place Like Coast blog. Travel safe, and we look forward to welcoming you with a smile.