Road Trip 'Do's and Don'ts'
Travelling across the US by road is surely on pretty much everyone's bucket list – and if it isn’t, well, it should be. We doubt there’s any better way to explore America, not just because you get to legitimately listen to ‘Born to be Wild’ on repeat in an open top car, but because you’ll discover hidden gems that you may not otherwise spot.
So, get the motor runnin’, and head out on the highway – but not before you’ve read our top tips!
Do: Plan, plan, plan
Now, we’re not saying that you should over-plan your trip, as that could be pretty boring, but there are a few things that you’ll need to prepare in advance to avoid hassle on the way. Do some research on the cheapest hotels, and places to buy petrol, food and water, and you’ll be able to save a large chunk of your budget.
Don’t: Rely on your smartphone
Mobile phone signal is generally quite good in the US, but you’re bound to run into a black spot at some point, especially when driving through sparsely populated areas (remember, it's a big country) and if you’re relying on Google Maps to get you from A to B then you might end up in trouble. Invest in a good quality map of the areas that you’ll be exploring, and learn how to read it.
Do: Save money by camping
Consider interspersing the hotel stays with the odd night in a tent, and you could eke more from your budget to spend on having fun – and you can even camp for free if you plan ahead. If you're taking a motorhome, all the better. Of course, you’ll want to plan accordingly for the season – winter camping may require a few extra blankets!
Don’t: Forget the snacks
It’s likely that you're going to have a fair few long stretches of road to travel down during your journey, so remember to stock up on both savoury and sweet snacks that will help to keep your energy levels up during the long drives. If you shop at a supermarket, you’ll save lots of cash compared to buying snacks on the road. Invest in a decent, large flask too for hot drinks, and an ice box for sandwich fillings and cold drinks. And – this is essential – make sure you have plenty of water. If for any reason you get stranded in the desert, that water could literally save your life. Take as much with you as you can. This point brings us neatly on to...
Do: Arrange roadside assistance
When you’re travelling a long distance, roadside assistance is essential. Even if your car is in good shape, it could still break down; or, in a moment of madness, you could lock your keys in the car and lose your mode of transport. The recovery people can save the day in these situations, and will be worth their weight in gold – though subscription doesn’t actually cost too much.
Don’t: Forget to check your car
In an ideal world, though, of course you’d rather not need those recovery people. If at all possible, take your car to your local mechanic and get it checked over before you travel. Essentials include fluid levels, tyre tread and pressure, and oil levels. If you’re renting your car this should be done for you, but be sure to check that all is as it should be yourself if you can.
Do: Take extra
This goes for food, money, and especially water. Plan how much you think you’ll need of everything, then take a little bit more, if you possibly can. Taking a few extra bags of crisps may prove to be a lifesaver – not literally, but you know what we mean. And water literally could be a lifesaver! (Sorry to mention it twice, but it really does bear repeating.)
Don’t: Choose your driving partner(s) on a whim
Just met someone who you think is awesome? That’s great – don’t go on a road trip with them. You need to know that you can handle being in your buddy’s company pretty much constantly, for a long period of time. Lifelong friend, or sibling? Yes. Guy you met in a bar last week? Maybe not. The experience may end your friendship before it’s begun.
Do: Relax and have fun!
If you get as much of the hard work done as possible before your trip, you’ll be able to enjoy your journey that bit more. The most important thing, at this point, is to make the trip a memorable one. Make sure that you have an absolute blast – especially as this could be a once in a lifetime experience. Make the most of everything. Keep a journal, if you can, to record those memories. Photos are wonderful, but they can’t always capture what’s going on inside your head.
Blogger Profile - Betty Peng
I grew up in Southern California near LA and spent most of my adult life in Northern California in San Francisco. (Oh believe me, there is a big difference between the two locations!) In my early twenties, I was very fond of road trips and have camped and climbed most of the National Parks in the western part of the United States. I have always been amazed by the dramatic change in scenery a few miles brings when driving throughout the U.S. There is always something remarkable around every corner! I recently moved to London and hope to continue my travel whims in Europe.