Top ten tips for the best road trip ever
There’s nothing more fun than an old-fashioned road trip. I love going out on the open road and exploring our country. Now, I’ve been a “road traveler” for quite some time, and although I love air travel, I love a road trip because that’s how you can really experience the country. So it’s time to whip up your favorite tunes and treats and plan your open-air road trip adventure with these 10 easy tips for road travel.
1. Plan your trip. First, you need to decide where you are going and then plan your trip. Planning doesn’t have to take long, but you do need to know which route to take and points of interest along the way that you want to stop and explore. Half the fun of a road trip is seeing the sites along the way. I like to use MapQuest on my road trip and use it as my main plan of attack on my road trip. GPS is very popular these days and I recommend it, but you can’t always rely on it when you hit construction zones or when accidents happen on your journey. This is why it is essential to have a real map with you of the areas you will be traveling to and to plan alternative routes if necessary.
2. Make your hotel reservations before you go. Part of the fun when traveling on the road is stopping wherever your heart desires, but there’s nothing worse than the “no room in the motel” experience on a road trip. You may not realize that there is a “Comic Book Trade Fair,” “Strawberry Fest,” or convention in town while you’re visiting and no rooms to make available for you. If you don’t book your reservations in advance, you not only risk sleeping in your car but also not being able to effectively manage your road trip budget. If you’re traveling with your family or a group of friends, consider staying in an all-suite hotel or even renting a time share, which is a great option for families on a road trip. Did you know that 90 percent of people who own a timeshare don’t use it on a regular basis? Many great deals can be found at some of the largest hotel chains that offer timeshare and many have washer and dryer. For my road trip to Scottsdale, I booked a gorgeous one bedroom suite with kitchenette at one time to share ownership directly through the hotel for only $100 a night including tax at the Sheraton Desert Oasis Villas.
3. Give your car a full tune-up before you go or consider renting a car. One week before you go on your road trip, take your car in for a tune-up and ask your mechanic to make sure the car’s fluids are top up, tire pressure is at optimum condition for highway driving, and any other necessary concerns about your car. The car is geared. If you need to fix something, it’s best to do it somewhere you can trust before your road trip. Plus, it can be more affordable when it counts. Also, be sure to bring a roadside safety kit just in case of an emergency. For me, this set includes the American Automobile Association (Premier Membership) membership card. If you have a car that is no longer under warranty or has automatic roadside assistance, an American Automobile Association membership is a must because it will save you a fortune in the unfortunate event that you break down and have to tow your car. If you’re at all worried that your current car isn’t a “road trip” car, you might want to consider renting a car for your road trip. I did this for my trip to Arizona where I found a great deal on rental cars and peace of mind for my road trip.
4. Pack your food and plan a picnic. I was addicted to stopping at fast food restaurants on a road trip. There was just something about being fun about being on a trip, but I’ve since learned that I’d rather pack my own food during my trip. Not only does it make me eat healthier, but it also saves money, especially if you’re traveling with your family. Also, if you plan ahead, you may find that there’s a great scenic picnic stop on your travels and packing in a picnic is much better than flying through the Drive-through. If you do stop by, either for a walk or to explore the amazing scenery along the way.
5. Bring great music or audiobooks with you! Music truly is the soundtrack to our lives and every road trip needs a soundtrack. I think of my trip to Seattle every time I hear Phil Collins’s “No Jacket Required” because that was the main music I was listening to on that trip. I think of Bahamas Harbor Island and the amazing walk on Pink Sands beach every time I hear Wilson Phillips music. It’s kind of like having a theme song for every holiday, but hearing the music even today will evoke fun memories of great travels. I also like to check out books I want to read but somehow I find it easier to just listen to. This is where audiobooks come in and you can download them to your mp3 player, iPhone or other PDA. !
6. Don’t forget to pack the baby bag. One of the things I learned from Emily Kaufman’s production of “The Travel Mom” on TV, is that if you’re traveling with kids, you need to make sure you have plenty to keep them entertained during your road trip. She calls this bag the boredom bag. Don’t forget to pack some children’s music that your kids love along with fun travel games that include magnetic board games. DVD players are an option for really long trips and as long as your child isn’t prone to car sickness. Of course, the electronic games will keep your kids busy but I encourage you to limit the time they last especially if you are traveling through some great scenic areas. It’s an excellent opportunity to bond as a family and your child’s memory of the trip will be lost if it gets lost on the Game Boy.
7. Remember, a road trip is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. One of my all-time favorite road trips was the day my niece, Jessica, and I hiked an enchanting 52-mile “Road to Hana” on the Hawaiian island of Maui. I’ll never forget that guide book said, “Remember, Hana’s isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.” Hana is about 52 miles from Kahului, but a typical trip to Hana takes at least three hours, as the road is quite winding with approximately 620 curves over 59 bridges, 46 of which have only one lane. This scenic road trip is an unforgettable journey that winds through a lush tropical rainforest dotted with tumbling waterfalls, black sand beaches, stunning lava cliffs, fresh fruit stands, and tropical cliffs. Jessica and I stopped at least ten times, including one stop, to picnic on that black sand beach. We took pictures by the waterfalls, delicious fruit stands, and beautiful tropical flower gardens. Have to be treated for you A road trip vacation the same way we did Our Road to Hana: Enjoy your road trip as a journey, not as a destination.
8. Take advantage of every stop. I like to plan my stops for fuel, food, and toilets so I can use my time efficiently and not waste my time making three stops instead of one. Perhaps the most important thing is that every time you stop, make sure everyone in the car uses the bathroom (even if they think they don’t have to). This will reduce the stops that you will make just for this purpose. Also, if you’re traveling with kids, and just need to stop for the bathroom, I’d recommend stopping at Starbucks. Parents can get coffee or iced tea, restrooms are clean, and there aren’t a lot of distractions for kids (like toys to buy) that might be found at a truck stop or gas station. Use the Starbucks Store Locator on their website to help you plan your stops before you go. Be a “good egg” and buy at Starbucks while you’re there.
9. Avoid trouble. When you’re on a road trip, you have to be street wise. Don’t be the target of crime by leaving your valuables on the seat in your car (DVD players, Game Boys, etc.) and don’t advertise that you’re on a road trip with pillows and blankets everywhere. When parking your car, stash away valuables and road trip amenities. If you’re proactive about keeping “I’m on a road trip” clearly hidden, any thief or trouble-maker should be walking right by your car. Other street considerations are always parking where there is good light and pedestrian traffic and making sure the windows are rolled up and the doors locked whenever you leave your car. You may also want to purchase items such as a “club” if you want additional safety insurance. Finally, while driving, watch your speed. Fast speed gives you a chance to get a ticket and most importantly reduces your time to react if the need arises. If you are the driver, you are responsible for your passengers. When you see signs that say, “Speed Limits Enforced With Pictures,” believe it. Other good driving tips include avoiding peak hours, especially in big cities, and whenever possible, taking turns driving with other people in the car. You’ll also want to avoid driving at night if you’re not aware of your surroundings.
10. Get Go City Card And save up to 55% on attractions and parks at your vacation destination. Last year, I took my 8-year-old niece Alexis and Tyler, my 10-year-old nephew, to LA for spring break (using Southwest Airlines Reward Miles, of course) and we took a road trip. to San Diego. That’s when I discovered the money saving Go City Card for San Diego. With this card, you’ve saved hundreds of dollars on admissions to Legoland, Wild Animal Park, the San Diego Zoo, and other attractions including Whale Watch in the Pacific once you purchase a Go San Diego Card.
Instead of paying individually for each local attraction, you pay one price for up to 40 attractions (depending on which city you’re visiting) and you’ll be able to create your own experience, tailoring your activities based on what you like to do, while also enjoying enormous savings. For example, with Go Los Angeles CardYou can choose a one, two, three, five or seven day pass at a low prepaid rate to access the 40 included attractions. This saves up to 55% compared to buying tickets directly from Universal Studios Hollywood, LEGOLAND California, Knott’s Berry Farm, Paramount Studios, Queen Mary and many other attractions. Go City Cards Available in many cities and vacation destinations in the United States including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Honolulu, Orlando, Miami, Seattle, Blue Ridge, and even Toronto.
Final tips: Don’t forget your cell phone and make sure you are “hands free” when using it while driving. In many states, this is the law, but it is also dangerous. Always use your “hands-free” cell phone when driving. Don’t forget to update your software on your mobile phone before you leave because you don’t want to be charged higher fees for roaming. Finally, it’s a really good idea to email a copy of your itinerary to other family members or friends in case of an emergency—and this is especially a good idea for ladies who are traveling together. Now, drive safely and have fun!
You can get more details at my website at Best Travel Deals – Tips – Advice.