50 Tips for Planning an AMAZING Road Trip

An inveterate road trip enthusiast shares 50 tips for planning an amazing road trip you'll remember forever.

I am obsessed with road trips.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to travel the country and tell its stories. After graduating with a degree in journalism, I moved to Chicago. In 2002, I created The Local Tourist as a hobby, and for the next fourteen years, I told Chicago’s stories. That was, and is, fun, but I wanted to explore more of the country.

In 2017, I made that little girl’s dream a reality and published my first book about a 31‐day road trip from the Chicago area to San Diego and back.

The next year, I published my second book, this one about a trip to the Oregon coast and back over 35 days.

Since then, I’ve published Midwest Road Trip Adventures, an anthology written by experts passionate about their home states, and COMPLETE Road Trip Guide (for grown-ups). I’m a frequent speaker at the Travel and Adventure Show about–guess what–road trips!

Like I said: obsessed.

Enough about me already. Let’s plan a road trip!

Another book I’ve written is unrelated to road trips, but it might inspire you to take one to Chicago. Living Landmarks of Chicago digs into the stories behind some of Chicago’s most historic and interesting landmarks.

50 Tips for Planning an Amazing Road Trip

These 50 tips on planning for a road trip adventure include choosing your ideal destination, saving money during your travels, and having the time of your life. Whether you're looking to drive cross-country or just need a weekend getaway, you'll learn how to plan a road trip you'll love.

I’ve broken these fifty tips into categories to make it easy to plan your amazing road trip.

We’ll start with the basics, then go into tools for planning and organizing. As an entrepreneur, I’m all about traveling inexpensively, so I’ve got several tips on road tripping on a budget.

Next, I’ll share some guidelines on traveling solo. And because my husband and I have taken two month‐plus long trips and still like each other, I’ve got some advice on surviving trips with others.

We’ll finish up with some of my favorite road trip tips.

Complete Road Trip Planner: Get 35+ worksheets, checklists, and itineraries to help plan your next road trip
Complete Road Trip Planner: Get 35+ worksheets, checklists, and itineraries to help plan your next road trip

Basic Road Trip Tips

Basic Road Trip Tips

1) Decide how long your road trip will be

Decide how long your road trip will be

The most basic of road trip tips is to decide how long you’ve got for your adventure. A weekend? A week? A whole month?

A monthlong trip is a whole different beast than a weekend tour. It’s the biggest determining factor in how far you can go.

For example, when we go camping for a weekend, we don’t want to drive more than about three hours, so that gives us a specific radius. If we’re going for a week, we’re willing to drive further to get there since we’ll be in one place for a few days. And, if we’re going for a month, our options are as wide open as the wide‐open road.

2) Figure out how much time you want to spend driving each day.

Figure out how much time you want to spend driving each day.

Do you prefer to drive long stretches so you can spend more time at a destination, or do you like to take shorter hops and visit more places?

We try to pack as much in as we can on our epic road trips, so that means we tend to stay at each place for one night. Because of that, we try to limit our driving time to four hours per day. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s our goal.

Of course, that means that it actually takes us anywhere from six to eight hours to get from one place to another. However, the beauty of a road trip is that you have the freedom to stop and look around.

So, your first step is to figure out how many days you’ve got. Then decide how many hours you want to drive each day, and then add half again as much for random stops.

Half again? Yes. Trust me on this.

3) Choose between getting there fast or taking the scenic route.

Choose between getting there fast or taking the scenic route.

We generally try to avoid interstates. When you get off the highway and onto two‐lane roads you see more of what this country offers. However, it takes longer (especially with all those historical markers), so that means our four hours of driving cover less distance because we won’t be doing 70+ MPH without stops.

If we can, we prefer taking two-lane roads. It’s easier to visit off-the-beaten-path locations and find roadside attractions. It enables us to see kitschy, cool, and unique things that aren’t visible from the highway, like a Volkswagen Beetle on stilts in a cornfield.

Most of the time, the slower route works for us. Sometimes, though, we just want to get to our destination. Whatever your road trip style, the type of road you take helps dictate how far you can go.

4) Plan your transportation

Plan your transportation for your road trip

If your vehicle is older, it might be a good idea to rent a car. While it could cost more for the trip itself, you won’t have the danger of your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

Things you’ll want to consider when trying to decide whether or not to rent a vehicle are mileage, safety, comfort, and wear and tear.

If you do decide to rent, your next decision is what type. Do you want to splurge and rent a convertible, go for more comfort with a luxury sedan, or allow for room for all of your stuff with an SUV?

5) Get your vehicle inspected

Get your vehicle inspected before taking a driving trip

Getting your vehicle checked is a requirement before leaving on any road trip. It’s not only a safety precaution, it can also save you money. Proper air pressure in your tires means better gas mileage, which means less money spent on gas.

By getting fluids, filters, etc., checked, you’ll make sure your vehicle is running at optimal performance and there will be less likelihood of car trouble.

6) Check the weather

Check the weather for your road trip destination

What will the weather be like when you plan to visit? This is a big, giant, important consideration. You’re probably not going to the desert in August, and many mountain roads are closed in the winter.

When we drove to San Diego and back, we left the Chicago suburbs in mid‐February and returned mid‐March. That impacted what we could do and where we could go.

For example, while I would have loved to camp at Mesa Verde, the campground didn’t even open until mid‐April. I also wanted to explore spots of Route 66 in Illinois that we missed in 2011, but February in Illinois is iffy, weather‐wise.

Likewise, our trip through the Rockies needed to be flexible because it was in early March, and who knows what’s going to happen through those high‐altitude passes.

The flip side is that the timing also meant camping at Joshua Tree was perfect, and our visit to Yuma, Arizona, was a lot more comfortable than it would have been in August.

7) Select your accommodations

Select your accommodations before you leave on your road trip

Where you sleep at night is one of the biggest choices, and can be one of the biggest expenses, on your road trip.

My husband and I are campers, so that’s one of our preferred options. Some of my friends think a hotel without room service is their idea of roughing it.

Know in advance if you want to camp or stay in luxurious accommodations, historic hotels, roadside motels, or cozy bed and breakfasts.

Each type provides a different experience. Knowing your preference will help narrow down your destinations and set your budget.

8) Define your interests

Define your interests - what do you want to see on your road trip?

Make a list of things that get you jazzed about traveling. I like roller coasters, farmers markets, and Carnegie Libraries. I love community museums. I want to pull over at every historical marker. I could see planning whole trips around those themes alone. My list goes on and on, but you get the idea.

Maybe you’re into sports, or shopping. Fishing or birding. Conservatories. Battlefields. Baseball. National Historic Monuments. Presidential Libraries. Antiques. Reenactments. Renaissance Faires. Golf. Movie locations.

The possibilities are endless!

As you’re looking at potential destinations, see if they’ve got any of that stuff that increases your pulse a few beats a minute. If they do, add them as potential stops. If not, strike them from the list.

Top Tools for Road Trip Planning

Top Tools for Road Trip Planning

I’m a list‐maker, so finding cool tools is my jam These tools are a few of my favorite things.

9) Attend a Travel Show

Attend a Travel Show to help you plan for a road trip

Travel Shows are a great way to find new destinations. While many people attend hoping to connect with someplace exotic (a.k.a. a place requiring several hours in a plane), travel shows are a wonderful way to find someplace a little closer to home.

Places I’ve visited as a direct result of connecting with destinations at Travel & Adventure Shows include Cottonwood, Arizona; Ridgeland, Mississippi; Bishop, California, and the Museum of Western Film History and the Alabama Hills.

The people working the booths at travel shows are, generally speaking, from that destination. They know more than anyone about their home and it’s their job to fill you in on why it would be a good place to visit. They’re a great resource, and can introduce you to new places.

I can speak to my soul only when the two of us are off exploring deserts or cities or mountains or roads.

Paulo Coelho

Find more inspirational travel quotes.

10) Search the travel sections at your local library and bookstores

Search the travel sections at your local library and bookstores to find destinations for your road trip

Libraries and bookstores are fantastic resources for helping you plan your destinations. It’s fun to browse the stacks to see all the possibilities. When it’s time to narrow down your choice to specific destinations, you might be able to find a guidebook. If a book you want isn’t available at your local library, you might be able to find it through a reciprocal lending program.

Booksellers are usually happy to special order books that they don’t stock.

It’s also fun to read travelogues for ideas and inspiration, and as an author, one of my biggest thrills is when someone tells me my books provided inspiration for their trips, especially when they go somewhere they never would have considered.

11) Browse social media for inspiration

Browse social media for inspiration

Social media is a good exploratory tool. You can visit the platform of your choice and search for potential destinations. You can also get suggestions from other travelers and learn about places to add to your itinerary and others to avoid.

While you can use social media for general travel inspiration, if you’re specifically planning a road trip, it’s best to have a general idea of how far you can drive and look for ideas based on that radius.

For example, if I want to take a weekend trip and limit my driving to three hours one way, I can skip searching Missouri, Kentucky, or Ohio. Instead, I’ll look in southern Wisconsin and Michigan, eastern Iowa, and northern Illinois and Indiana.

With Pinterest, you’ll enter a destination or interest in the search bar and related pins will appear. You’ll also see suggested words that you can add to your search to narrow the results.

Instagram can provide travel inspiration, but it can be a little more challenging. If you begin by searching for a destination, you’ll see a drop‐down list of potential accounts and hashtags to follow.

A more efficient way to use Instagram is to check out the actual destination’s account. Generally, searching for “Visit {destination}” will help you find the location’s official site and social media handles.

Then, there’s Facebook. I’m hesitant to include this minefield, BUT it can be a wonderful tool for research and making connections. Almost every destination, or CVB, will have a Facebook page. But the real magic is in groups.

There are many travel‐related groups that you can join to connect with other travel lovers and get suggestions for places to visit. To find travel groups, visit Facebook.com and search for destination or interest + group.

For example, I searched Road Trip + group and results included USA Road Trip Group and See the USA via Road Trips.

Twitter is less visual than the other three, but it’s still a good way to connect with destinations. You can also find travel blogs, and there are many travel‐themed Twitter chats throughout the week.

Personal favorites include #MWTravelChat and #FoodTravelChat.

12) Get a AAA membership.

Get a AAA membership

One of my road trip rules is to always visit AAA before heading out. Why? One word: Maps. Even though GPS is great, sometimes, like in the canyons of Utah or the middle of the Mojave Desert, it doesn’t work. That’s why we always have paper maps.

AAA’s app is also a good resource, if you do have a connection, for finding attractions and restaurants. PLUS, they’ve also got roadside assistance.

When I was growing up, mom and dad would pick up custom‐made TripTiks from our local AAA. The association still offers these route‐planners, only now they’re online.

You can even specify how many hours you want to drive  in between breaks and it will suggest places to stop, as well as places that offer discounts to AAA members, including hotels and restaurants.

AAA is simply a great overall tool for any road trip planning.

13) Surf the web

Surf the web to find road trip inspiration

Surfing the web is such a fun way to plan your road trip, and I’m not just saying that because I publish a travel website. I love using sites like Roadside America and Atlas Obscura to find quirky attractions.

America’s Scenic Byways lets you browse by state or by drive. The Historical Marker Project has a map of historical markers near your current location. Careful – it’s a rabbit hole!

When you find places that interest you, one of the upcoming tools will help you keep them all organized.

14) Use Roadtrippers to plan your trip from start to finish

Use Roadtrippers to plan your trip from start to finish

Roadtrippers allows you to plug points into a map, but it’s so much more than that. Once you’ve added your starting point and your destination, you can then choose to either take the highways or avoid them. This visually opens possibilities of new destinations.

Related: check out our complete guide to Roadtrippers app and website

Besides plotting the route itself, there’s a ton of user‐generated content offering recommendations for attractions, restaurants, places to stay, and great photo ops.

There’s an app, too. The website is better for planning. Once we’re on  the road, I use the app as an itinerary. Both are free for a limited number of waypoints.

Visit thelocaltourist.com/go/roadtrippers and use code BTR5QTP to save $5 off a premium membership.

15) CVBs/DMOs and Visitor Centers are your road trip planning friends

CVBs/DMOs and Visitor Centers are your road trip planning friends

These gems are my travel planning secret weapon.

When you’re planning your trip, make sure you reach out to these founts of regional knowledge. In the “biz” we know them as CVBs ‐ Convention and Visitors Bureaus ‐ and DMOs ‐ Destination Management Organizations. These are the Mother Lode of local info.

Our visit to Yuma is a perfect example of why I consider these resources treasures. We talked with a representative of Yuma’s Visitors Bureau.

When we told her our route, she told us about the Museum of History in Granite and the Center of the World, and about Salvation Mountain.

Those two stops provided some of our favorite memories on our trip, and we never would have known about them without a local’s input.

Top Tools for Organizing your Road Trip

Top Tools for Organizing

These tools will help you organize your research and make planning a breeze.

16) Create a board (or boards) in Pinterest

Create a board (or boards) in Pinterest

Although it’s billed as social media, Pinterest is more of a visual search engine than it is a platform for making connections. However, it is a fun and effective way to not only find destinations, but to also organize them.

Let’s say you’re visiting San Diego. You can create a board called San Diego, and then create sections for restaurants, attractions, activities, things to do, etc.

Pinterest acts as a good bulletin board. To really organize your trip, you’ll definitely want to use the next tool.

17) Organize your entire road trip with Trello

Organize your entire road trip with Trello

Trello is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite tools. This easy‐to‐use website and app is basically, like Pinterest, a bulletin board. But it’s so much more! You create lists and then add cards to each list.

The best thing about Trello is that each person can individualize it based on what works best. For example, for our month‐long trips, I created a list for each state. Then I began adding places I thought looked interesting as individual cards.

As our plans finalized, I’d add a date and confirmation numbers. For shorter trips, I’ll create a list each for general research, accommodations, dining, attractions, etc.

Moving cards from one list to another is a simple drag and drop. You can also share your boards so that everyone going on the trip can see them and can include their own interests.

Visit thelocaltourist.com/go/trello to check out this cool tool!

18) Add your itinerary to Google Calendar

Add your itinerary to Google Calendar

Before you go, add your entire itinerary to Google Calendar. You can share it with anyone on the trip, as well as people you want to keep informed. You can set up notifications for each scheduled item on your phone, and if you include the location, can quickly access directions.

If you’re using Trello, the easiest way to add your itinerary to Google Calendar is with a bonus tool called IFTTT.

You can create a recipe that will add the information from a Trello card to Google calendar automatically. Basically, you tell IFTTT that IF you add a date to a card in Trello, then it should create an event in Google calendar.

19) Keep it analog with an accordion folder + a notebook

Keep it analog with an accordion folder + a notebook

In addition to all these fancy‐schmancy tools, I always recommend old‐school backups. My mom calls this the belt-and-suspenders approach.

If your phone battery dies, or you’re out of cell range, or you drop your phone and the glass shatters, you’ll still have everything you need to enjoy your road trip.

Print out your itinerary and confirmation numbers and keep them in an accordion folder. You can also use that to store any brochures or flyers you pick up along the way. It’s a good idea to keep a notebook as well, and you can record expenses, mileage, and other details.

Budgeting & Saving Money on a Road Trip

Budgeting & Saving Money on a Road Trip

As entrepreneurs who like to take epic trips, my husband and I have become pretty adept at traveling on the cheap.

20) Do the speed limit

Do the speed limit

I know, I know. That’s no fun. BUT, the faster you drive, the more gas you burn, and the more gas you burn, the more cash you use. Besides, road trips are about the journey, right? Take your time!

21) Avoid Tolls

Avoid Tolls on a road trip to save money

If you’re driving in rural areas, tolls won’t be a problem. However, if you’re driving around or near large urban areas, they might be. There’s an option to avoid tolls in most GPS systems. Set that before you go and you won’t have to worry about it.

Unless you’re in Oklahoma. On our 6,479.5-mile trip to San Diego and back we hit one toll – ONE – and it was in Oklahoma. Fortunately, it was a whopping $0.13.

22) Plan your route

Plan your route

This is one guideline I’ve been known to ignore. I mean, when you find out there’s a singing road twenty‐five miles the other direction, you go, right?

However, if you can plan your route ahead of time, you can avoid backtracking or driving further than you need, which saves you gas, time, and possible aggravation.

23) Take advantage of Gas Discount Cards

Take advantage of Gas Discount Cards

Most of the major gas brands have free discount card programs. Sign up for them to save money on gas and concessions. Even if it’s a chain that doesn’t operate  close to home, it’s free and could save you some money on gas during your trip.

24) Use GasBuddy to find gas prices

Use GasBuddy to find gas prices

GasBuddy is one of my most‐used apps. I use it at home. I use it on the road. I use it any time I might possibly need to put gas in a vehicle.

What is GasBuddy? It’s a website and app that shows you gas prices in almost real time. If you’ve ever pulled over to fill up only to see a station a few miles later with much cheaper prices, you’ll understand why this comes in handy.

Check out my complete guide on how to use GasBuddy

Another reason I love it is because of Pay with GasBuddy. This card is tied to your bank account, and when you use it at participating stations, you’ll get a discount on gas. It often works in conjunction with branded discount cards, so you can save even more.

Pay with GasBuddy doesn’t work with all brands, nor can you use it on Native American reservations or at a warehouse club. Which is why it’s also a good idea to…

25) Get a Warehouse Club Membership

Get a Warehouse Club Membership

We have Sam’s Club and Costco near us, so we have memberships to both. Mainly because gas (always gas!) is SO MUCH CHEAPER. By twenty to thirty cents a gallon.

You can also save on tires and Costco has travel deals. Plus, there’s the whole buying‐in‐bulk‐is‐cheaper thing.

This one depends on your individual needs and location. If you’ve got a warehouse club near you, check to see if it makes sense for the rest of the year as well.

26) Skip Fast Food

Skip fast food

Skip fast food. Seriously. Or at least really really try to avoid it. A stop at McDonald’s for two people is around

$15. Do that every day, one meal a day, and after a week you’ve spent over $100 on food that doesn’t sit well with your stomach, your waistline, or your wallet.

It adds up quickly.

To put that into perspective, a National Parks Access Pass is $80 for the year. You could get into every National Park for an entire year for less than it would cost you to eat a Big Mac every day for a week.

Speaking of National Parks, check out these tips for visiting, plus a National Parks checklist

27) BYO Snacks & Beverages

BYO Snacks & Beverages

If you’ve ever bought snacks at a gas station, you know how pricey they are. Plus, even though road trip snacks have no calories, it’s still not a good idea to live on Fritos and Pringles (don’t tell my husband I said that).

Pack your own snacks and you can stave off any hangry episodes as well as save some money.

For our epic road trips, I make a bucket of trail mix and throw in a couple of individual serving containers so we can eat while on the road. We also have containers of grapes, string cheese, apples, and other healthier handheld snacks.

And, absolutely BYOBeverages and water. Get a refillable water bottle and keep a gallon (or more) container of water in the car.

Start the trip with a frozen gallon of water in the cooler and you’ve got an efficient, space saving way to keep your food chilled and store your water.

28) Pack a growler

Pack a growler

If you like beer, bring a growler! Visiting local breweries is one of my favorite ways to learn about a place. Not only do I get to try new beers, I get to meet the locals.

You can bring a glass growler, or my personal favorite is the uKeg from GrowlerWerks. It’s pressurized, so you can fill it in Deadwood, South Dakota, and have delicious, still carbonated beer at Devils Tower in Wyoming.

Looking for more things you should bring? Check out these road trip essentials.

29) Eat out at lunch

Eat out at lunch to save money on a road trip

If there’s a restaurant you want to check out, find out if it’s open for lunch. If it is, it will most likely be cheaper than it would be at dinner.

30) Sign up for grocery discount cards

Sign up for grocery discount cards

Check into the grocery store chains where you’ll be traveling and see if they have discount cards. It’s often worth the five minutes (or less) it takes to sign up. Some of them will have gas stations, too.

31) Book hotels with kitchens in the room

Book hotels with kitchens in the room

If you’re staying in one spot for a few days, getting a hotel with a kitchenette is convenient and can save money on eating out. Most of the time these suites will consist of a refrigerator and freezer, a microwave, and a stovetop.

They’ll also have pots, pans, and all the utensils.

On long trips, we’ll book one every few days to re‐freeze our ice packs and do some food prep.

32) Stay in hotels that offer free breakfast

Stay in hotels with free breakfast

Staying at hotels and motels that provide free breakfast cuts out your expenses for one meal of the day.

Just be sure that you’re not paying more for that hotel than you would if you stayed at another one and either got breakfast out or made your own.

33) Use discount sites

Use discount sites

Discount sites like restaurant.com, Groupon, Priceline, and TravelZoo can help you save a ton of money, and can help you find new places. We ate at a great spot in Bend, Oregon, that we discovered using restaurant.com, and we saved $15 on our bill.

Skip popular destinations and busy times of year

This is all about supply and demand. When more people want to stay in a place, there’s less availability and higher rates.

For example, in June, 2018, a motel in Arco, Idaho, cost us less than $40, but a motel in Portland, Oregon, would have cost us $200.

Fortunately, we found the last campsite on the coast on a strip of grass in an RV park (it was also the most expensive one of our trip!).

Tips for Road Tripping Solo

Tips for Road Tripping Solo

Most of the time I travel with my husband, but I do often travel solo. I also know lots and lots of solo travelers, so here are a few quick tips if you plan on venturing out on your own.

35) Share your plans

Share your plans

Absolutely make sure you share your itinerary with someone you trust before you go. Especially if you’re a woman traveling alone, it’s good to have a friend who can make sure you’re where you’re expected.

36) Share your location

Share your location

While you’re on the road, share your location with someone you trust. You can set this in Google maps. If you don’t want them to always know where you are, you can turn it off when you get back home.

37) Talk to strangers

Talk to strangers

My favorite part of travel is the people. If you tend towards introversion, like I do, an easy way to interact is to ask the people you meet where they go to lunch, where they take family when they come to visit, etc. This could be the gas station attendant, the cashier at the grocery store, the concierge at your hotel, or the host of your B&B.

I’ve always found park volunteers to not only be great resources, but also super nice people who always put a smile on my face.

38) Know your limits

Know your limits

Be honest with yourself about how long you can drive and remain alert, how often you’ll need to stop for bathroom breaks, and plan ahead. When you’re traveling solo, it’s more important to plan your route, especially if you’re going to be driving through rural or remote areas.

Road Tripping With Others

Road Tripping With Others

My husband and I have taken a couple of month‐plus road trips, and we also put our belongings in storage for six months and traveled. We’ve spent a lot of time, just the two of us, with nowhere else to go, and we still like each other! You could say we’ve learned a thing or two about how to not only survive traveling together, but also have a great time.

39) Everybody gets a say

Everybody gets a say in what you do on a road trip

When you’re planning a trip with other people, it’s a good idea to let everybody have a say in where you’ll go and what you’ll do.

Start by having each person create a list of their ideal destinations and activities. Rank them as

  1. Must Do
  2. Would Really Like To Do
  3. Would be nice, but not necessary.

Then make sure everyone gets the same number of their own Must Dos. The rest are negotiable. (And road tripping with others is definitely about compromise!)

40) Set your road trip budget before you leave

Set your budget before you leave

Money is the great relationship breaker, whether it’s friends or families. Know the budget before you go and save any fiscal heartaches.

41) Establish guidelines for dealing with tension

Establish guidelines for dealing with tension

Just like a wedding, something’s going to go wrong on a road trip. There is also likely to be tension. Plan how you’re going to diffuse any uncomfortable situations. I’ve got a whole guide on how to travel as a couple.

42) Set expectations

Set expectations before traveling on a road trip with other people

Different people have different travel styles. Some like driving straight through and others (like me!) want to stop at everything interesting. Put me in a car with someone who just wants to get there, and we’re probably going to have some issues. If we know that ahead of time, we can compromise.

You’ll also want to consider food. If one person sees fast food as a road trip treat, and the other wants to stick to healthier and less expensive options, it can cause problems. Discuss these ahead of time and find a balance between any differences.

43) Apologize

When all else fails on a road trip, say I'm sorry

If something does go wrong, the easiest way to move past it and get back to enjoying the road trip is to apologize.

That goes for everyone! When you say I’m sorry, mean it. Don’t say “I’m sorry you didn’t understand me,” which is a non‐apology.

Say “I’m sorry I did this that caused you pain/hurt/anger. That was not my intention.”

The important thing is to remember that this trip is a once‐in‐a‐ lifetime experience. You’re only doing this trip, this time, once. If there are underlying issues that need to be addressed, sometimes it’s best to do that once you get back.

While you’re on the trip, try to make the most of it.

My FAVORITE Road Trip Tips

My FAVORITE Road Trip Tips

These last few tips are a hodge‐podge of my favorites.

44) Give yourself a break

Give yourself a break

Sitting in one place for any length of time is not good for your body or your mind. If you’ve got a long driving stretch, try to stop every couple of hours.

Get out of the vehicle, shake things loose, and get back on the road with a bit more energy.

45) Don’t rely on cell service

 Don’t rely on cell service

I don’t care what those cell coverage maps say, they’re WRONG. I’ve checked them several times before road trips and there has never been a time when the coverage has been accurate.

Cell phones are great, but it’s a really good  idea to plan on losing your connection. Have those paper maps, know where you’re going, and print out anything you might need, like addresses, phone, and confirmation numbers.

46) Book National Park (and other) campsites in advance

Book National Park (and other) campsites in advance

Many National Park campgrounds book up weeks and even months in advance. We booked Yellowstone National Park nearly two months before our visit and were lucky to get a spot.

If you’re camping, it’s a really good idea to book your site before you leave. Otherwise you’ll end up like us, scrambling up the coast of Oregon until finding the last possible site.

Don’t be like us.

47) Be sustainable

Be sustainable

Granted, a road trip inherently is carbon‐expensive because of all of that gas required to get your there. However, there are other ways you can make less of an environmental impact.

Fortunately, most of those are also going to save you money. By skipping fast food, you won’t be using all of those single‐use papers and containers. Same with using refillable water bottles, reusable utensils and plates, and avoiding leftovers and food waste.

Getting your car checked so that it’s running optimally not only saves you money on gas, it means you’re burning less fuel and your road trip emissions are lower.

Practicing sustainability is good for the environment AND your wallet!

48) Take LOTS of pictures and video

Take LOTS of pictures and video of your driving trip

Get a big ol’ SD card and put it in your phone, because you’ll want to take LOTS of pictures. That way you can go back and relive your trip any time you want.

49) Be present

Be present

You’re on an adventure. Make it meaningful by taking some time to soak it all in.

50) Keep a journal to remember your road trip

Keep a journal to remember your road trip

Jotting down some notes at the end or beginning of each day is a sure way to help you remember your experiences. You’re only taking this one trip this one time. Even if you take the same route, it won’t be the same.

BONUS – 51) Be flexible and HAVE FUN

Be flexible and HAVE FUN

As I mentioned earlier, something’s bound to go wrong on a road trip. But you know what? A lot MORE will go right!

By being flexible, you can adapt to any situation, whether it’s dealing with inclement weather, or stumbling upon an amazing roadside attraction that might put your schedule off, but will create lifelong memories.

This is by far the most important tip of all, and will keep you planning – and loving – road trips for years to come.


I hope you’ve enjoyed these
50+1 Tips for Planning an Amazing Road Trip!

Ready for plan your road trip adventure? Get COMPLETE Road Trip Guide (for grown-ups).

Ultimate Road Trip Guide Cover Mock-up

Raise your hand if you love road trips!

There’s nothing like the feeling of freedom, of adventure, of limitless possibilities when the wheels start spinning and you head towards the horizon. Whether you’re solo or traveling with others, this no-nonsense guide will help you have the time of your life.

Thing is, while it’s romantic to think you can just jump in the car (or truck, or SUV) and GO, it’s a little more complicated than that.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find everything you need to plan, enjoy, and remember your next road trip adventure. 

  • Where will you go?
  • When’s the best time?
  • How will you get there?
  • How can you save money and still have a trip you’ll remember (fondly)?
  • How to stay safe?
  • How do you make sure you don’t miss out on something really cool?
  • What do you need to bring?
  • What will you eat?
  • Where can you stay?
  • What will you do?
  • How do you make it back home with your relationships and sanity intact?

The Local Tourist’s COMPLETE Road Trip Guide (for grown-ups*) to the rescue!

Get the answers to all of the above, and more.

Written by a true road trip enthusiast (as in, slightly obsessed), this guide covers the bases and gives you insider tips. Theresa L. Goodrich has traveled thousands of miles, is the author of the Two Lane Gems travelogue series, and contributed to Midwest Road Trip Adventures anthology. She’s also spoken at the Travel & Adventure Show and the Chicago Auto Show – about what? Road Trips.

She even got married on 6/6!

(See? Obsessed.)

She’s turned that obsession into a complete road trip guide.

The Complete Road Trip Guide (for grown-ups) is your all-in-one resource to help you plan your perfect road trip.

Like these road trip tips? Pin it for later!

These 50 tips on planning for a road trip adventure include choosing your ideal destination, saving money during your travels, and having the time of your life. Whether you're looking to drive cross-country or just need a weekend getaway, you'll learn how to plan a road trip you'll love.
Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00