I tend to get butterflies in my stomach before I go on a road trip. Especially when that morning arrives on the calendar and it’s time to leave my regular life behind for five or more days and drive across a new country.
What I adore the most about being on the road is the unpredictable aspect of it. Not knowing exactly what I might see. Not knowing what the areas I’m visiting will be like.
This small level of unpredictability can be enjoyed when you are used to planning trips. However, this comes with time and experience, so it’s important to get the basics right.
Planning a long trip on the road isn’t always easy. It can certainly be more difficult than a one to two-day trip, but don’t worry! In this article, I’ve included expert tips for all of you intermediates out there to experience the true magic of road trip travel.
How Long Will Your Road Trip Be?
If you’re an experienced road tripper, you can afford to make your trip a few days longer if you want to. A longer road trip will entail more preparation, so you’ll need a detailed plan.
This plan will include exactly how long you’re driving for each day, all of your desired stops, and what to do in case of a serious emergency. Remember that if you’re driving for multiple consecutive days, there’s a higher chance of encountering weather or vehicle problems.
The last thing you need on a week-long road trip is for your car to get a flat tire when you didn’t bring a spare. Even worse is if you’re stuck in a rural area!
You can avoid this disaster by making sure to bring everything on the packing list below.
What’s on Your Packing List?
A long road trip isn’t complete without the creature comforts that we all love and value.
As a kid, I remember always bringing my favorite snacks, pillows, and blankets during our regular family road trips. They served me unbelievably well on those long six to seven-hour journeys across the Welsh countryside. A pillow is much comfier to rest your head on than the car window, especially during those excruciatingly long drives!
One particularly awesome aspect about road trips is that you can pack an abundance of stuff compared to a backpacking trip. A vehicle provides much more room in general without having to carry all the weight yourself. This is a huge bonus in allowing you some extra space on your packing list.
After the absolute essentials, it’s important to make every additional item count. Those long road trips will usually mean more things to prepare and pack compared to shorter trips.
Here’s a list of extra items that I always bring with me as an experienced road tripper:
- Spare tire (most essential for covering those extra long distances)
- Physical map
- Wireless phone charger (one for each person if possible)
- Thick blanket
- Rain jacket
- Toilet paper
- Carseats or boosters (if traveling with little ones)
- De-icer (be prepared for difficult changes in weather)
- Antibacterial wipes
- Car manual
- Spare t-shirts
The longer your road trip is, the more likely it is that you’ll encounter vehicle problems. For this reason, bringing your car manual will be necessary, along with keeping an emergency car kit and a spare tire.
Where Are You Going This Time?
Are you a city person or a fan of the natural world? What is your motivation behind the miles that you’re covering?
The best road trips I love are the more challenging ones where I am exploring a new country. Canada and Australia are particularly epic because of how spacious and large they are.
There’s basically unlimited road space in either of these nations, making the amount of time you spend driving entirely up to you. Ultimately, where you go will depend on the sights that you want to see and your driving stamina.
Before choosing the place to drive to on your road trip, make sure to ask yourself these four questions:
- How long can I physically drive for?
- Am I fully prepared to make this trip?
- What fun activities can I do when I get there?
- Is it worth the long drive?
Questions like these will stimulate your mind if it isn’t already, and allow you to come up with a destination that you truly want to visit. Some of my most memorable road trips were a result of me asking myself the basics about the experience that I wanted.
Once you’ve chosen a place you would like to visit, it’s time to plan that challenging route!
How to Plan Your Long Road Trip
One of the great joys of modern technology is that it’s certainly made planning easier for us travelers. What was once a mammoth task that required a pen and paper has now become as simple as searching for a destination on Google Maps.
This is especially the case for planning those extensive road trips. The fantastic news is that a GPS or Google Maps will help take you there along with the right planning.
In addition to that, it’s possible to use either of these options to plan stopping points along the way to make sure that you’ll get adequate rest before arriving.
I’d personally advise purchasing a satellite navigation system when driving on the road for more than 8 hours a day. This will save you considerable amounts of needed cellphone battery, which you can then use for entertainment or other purposes.
I tend to find that most portable cellphone chargers tend to charge slowly. So, if you’re planning on using your phone as a navigator, I’d recommend bringing an effective wireless charger and a friend’s phone as backup, just in case!
Alternatively, you can also choose to plan your trip manually if you know the roads well. Assuming this isn’t your first road trip, this a secure option for getting to your destination safely in case modern technology fails you. I’d suggest doing this instead of relying solely on technology — which can be notoriously wonky at times.
Use Pilot to Plan Your Road Trip!
The best road trips are those that are well organized with timely planning. This saves potential disasters from happening. I love settling down in the car knowing all aspects of the journey are taken care of.