Dreaming of the great American road trip is a fantasy almost as old as the invention of the automobile itself. Who hasn’t had this ambition at some point in their life? With a diverse landscape, culture and scenery unique to each state, the experience is bound to be one that will create unforgettable memories!
With international travel likely to be restricted for a while to come, many are revisiting the idea of a road trip. It’s the ideal getaway, and a perfect chance to bond with family. The key to a successful road trip though definitely lies in proper planning! There’s certainly an art to pulling off a smooth road trip, but the good news is that it’s a skill which can be learned.
Mapping out your journey minimizes the chances of any mishaps, ensures that you have a comfortable, safe journey and also means that you get to see all the places that you wanted.
So, what goes into planning an ideal US road trip?
Car Or RV? The US is a huge expanse of land, and the reality of the American road trip is that you will be spending many hours behind the wheel. You have a choice of using a car or a Recreational Vehicle (RV) to explore – either your own, or one that you hire. You’ll have a different experience depending on your choice of transport.
If you decide to go for a car or a van, it means being able to access things on the road like parking spots at popular attractions much more easily. Some people also find the driving less stressful in a car or a van, as you need a lot of confidence to steer something the size of an RV. While space is a lot more limited in a car – meaning that you’ll have to be a lot more selective with what you take along for the ride – you can still travel in comfort. You can use a rooftop tent to provide sleeping space – just make sure you look for the best roof top tents and invest in one with great reviews!
The alternative is a traditional pitched tent, or planning your driving around motels. Drive an RV and you get additional space and comfort, not to mention additional amenities. You’ll be able to stock up on food before you leave, which means that you won’t have to rely on restaurants and convenience stores for food. This allows you to save money on the food bill! It’s all about economizing in some areas, but knowing when to treat yourself in others!
The choice of vehicle is really a personal choice, but it’s best to take into account the locations you’re planning to see. For example, an RV may be the better choice if you’re planning to visit more remote locations and national parks, whereas a car may provide more convenience if you want to visit some major cities.
Plan Out Your Route– There are a lot of options when it comes to selecting a route for your dream road trip. You should always map out your route in advance, keeping two factors in mind – what your absolute ‘must see’ sights are, and how much time you have to complete your trip. Sometimes the route itself is the main goal of the trip, such as when people choose to drive Route 66 or the Pacific Coast Highway.
Your travel itinerary needs to be built around destinations and timings, to make sure that you get to experience everything you want to along the way. However, you should allow for a little spontaneity along the way too! Having a plan in general actually makes it easier to do this, as you can re-plot as you go. You may find that there are places you didn’t expect to captivate you that you want to spend a little more time at, or diversions that occur to you en route. The main objective is to explore and have fun!
Prep Your Vehicle- As well as stocking up on snacks, bottled water and chargers for tablets and phones, you should also carefully check over your car before departure. Change the oil, top up the fluids, and check your wiper blades, battery and tires. Make sure your AC and heat are running well, and check your spare tire and jack. Make up an emergency kit with items such as a flashlight, jumper cables and items such as a warning triangle and foil heat blankets. You will also want to make sure that you carry a medical kit stocked up with painkillers, Band Aids, antiseptic spray, sterile dressings and antihistamines. Things can and do happen, and these items can save a trip to the doctor along the way. Finally, don’t forget a road trip playlist!
Luggage to Pack– When packing for a road trip, it’s a good idea to have a hard shell suitcase that won’t be crushed by all of your other belongings. I am a big fan of my carry-on sized Clavel rolling suitcase. It is lightweight, expandable, and will keep your items from getting crushed when you have it packed into your trunk.
I also have three items from the Dailys collection from Delsey. These three items come as a set, have straps to easily slide on to the rolling suitcase, and are expandable. The backpack was nice for hiking, but also works well for business travel. The duffel bag can count as a “personal item” if checked on the plane, and can hold a surprising amount of clothes in it! I also recommend the tote bag to keep in the front seat with you as a “purse” for those items you will be using while in the car.
Read my other travel item recommendations
As always, all reviews and opinions are my own. Please note that the Delsey luggage set was gifted to me in exchange for review and promotion.