Somewhere in the heart of the American spirit, there exists a desire to go. America is a country of roads and travelers. From its founding, people have moved freely from place to place, discovering things about the land and about themselves along the way. With this in mind, the American road trip has been placed on many bucket lists. Taking this trek is not for the faint of heart, though. If you’re going to go, there are some things you must know. Here are five tips that tried and true travelers will recommend to those who want to take the dive.
1. Make your budget specific and generous
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when planning a road trip is undershooting their budget. Often, they overestimate their fuel efficiency. They underestimate their mileage. They even forget about the little costs, like having to get another oil change while on the road. The key is to get specific with your budget, thinking about every potential cost. It’s also important to overshoot the budget. It’s always better to have too much than to find yourself under budget on the trip of a lifetime.
2. Plan enough, but not too much
There’s a difficult balance that all travelers must try to manage. On one hand, you want to have a plan or else you might find yourself wandering. At the same time, part of the beauty of any trip, and especially a road trip, is exploring the unexpected. Depending upon your appetite for adventure, you may be able to get by with more or less planning. Make sure you keep this balance in mind, though, so you can experience both the security of having plans and the beauty of finding the unexpected.
3. Both cities and wide open spaces
When some people plan the great American road trip, they focus exclusively on national parks or open spaces. Others just want to go to the big cities. If you truly want to see America, then you need a balance of these two things. Consider combining time in rural and urban spaces. Don’t just go to Glacier National Park. Also, find your way to Las Vegas or Disney World. America is all of these things and much more.
4. The biggest danger comes on the road
You might think that you’ll find danger on the cliffs of Zion National Park’s Angel’s Landing. You may envision the biggest problems coming when there’s a grizzly bear between you and your camp somewhere in Montana. The numbers say that you’re in the most danger when you’re in the car. Take these times seriously, and do everything in your power to make the driving as painless and safe as possible. This means breaking up the trip into manageable chunks. You shouldn’t be driving more than around eight hours per day. To stay safe, think up a driving rotation where you and your travel partners can share the load.
5. Road trip with someone you can stand
When you’re on the road, you’ll be spending hours on end with the same person. You’ll learn things about the other person that you never thought were possible. This can be both great and terrifying depending upon who your travel partner happens to be. Make sure you are road tripping with a person you know and can handle. If you’re going to experience a great time on the road, you’ll need a person who you can relate to, laugh with, and depend on for certain tasks. If you choose the right travel partner, your bond will be strengthened, and the trip can be extremely rewarding.
Road Trip Safety Measures
Alright, that’s it – you’re having fun. But it doesn’t mean you can just do everything wild and forget about driving safely.
Road trips are fun until something undesirable happens like getting a flat tire or being pulled over for speeding.
What can you do to avoid ruining your schedule? Here are some tips:
Even before setting out, make sure your vehicle is in good working condition by scheduling a quick maintenance check, whether you do it yourself or by visiting a local mechanic. Check the following:
- Tire pressure
- Tread levels
- Oil levels
- Fluid levels
Make sure to pack a car emergency kit, too. Include a spare tire and the tools you’ll need in case you need to change tires. You might think this is unnecessary, but you’ll never know what to expect when you’re on the road – it’s always best to be ready just in case.
Also, if you’re in charge of driving, make sure to get enough rest the day before the trip. If you’re driving for several hours, make sure you’re going with someone who can take your seat every once in a while so you can rest. Remember that drowsy driving is a common cause of road accidents.
It won’t hurt checking the road you’re going to take beforehand and come up with an alternate route, just in case there are unexpected road blockages you were not informed of. A quick scan on your phone’s GPS will do the trick!
Don’t forget to pack your essentials as well, and make sure you have everything you need for your trip. This includes food and drinks, toiletries and change of clothes, extra money, a first-aid kit, and ideas to keep everyone entertained during the long drive!
Lastly, drive safe. You only need to follow simple driving laws like following the posted speed limit and keeping a safe following distance. If you do, you can dramatically decrease your chances of getting involved in an accident.
Keep your eyes on the road when driving and avoid distractions as much as possible. You have companions anyway so ask them to do stuff for you like sending a message, answering your phone calls, or navigating your GPS so you can focus on driving.
Never drive while intoxicated, no matter how confident you are of your driving skills. It’s not just against the law, but it’s also a sure way of putting your and your passenger’s lives at risk.
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