8 Tips for Making a Road Trip a Success

Making a Road Trip a Success

By Maggie Reichel

A road trip is such a fun way to see the landscape of an area while you drive to a destination. You could be heading to a spot you’ve visited many times before, or somewhere brand new. The romance of a road trip is bolstered in America because of the incredible geography we are privileged to call home.

On the other hand, *planning* a road trip can be viewed as an exciting introduction to the journey, or a special kind of hell, depending on who you ask. I personally view it closer to the former, and while it’s not as exciting as the actual trip, gets me so pumped up that when the day actually comes I enjoy it even more.

In my experience, a successful road trip involves planning. And if you can plan things enough to give you a good start, it’s easy to deviate from the plan if something comes up! So here goes, these are my 8 tips for planning a successful road trip:

 

1 – Plan out your destination

I know, I know, you already picked a place that you want to go to. But where will you stay once you get there? Are you car camping on BLM land? Pitching a tent away from the crowds? Do you want a sunrise view to wake you up in the morning? Or would you rather be in some trees, protected from any passer-bys? Making sure you know your final coordinates helps you plan for when you need to leave to make your destination in a timely manner (pitching a tent in the dark is the pits if you ask me), as well as any local restrictions (maybe car camping isn’t allowed closer to town).

 

2 – Pick a route (but don’t be afraid to deviate)

Are you going to take the quickest Google Maps-recommended route? Or is there a way to go off the beaten path? When my husband and I were heading to our honeymoon in Sedona from Colorado, we realized we would be passing by the Grand Canyon on the way. Having some flexibility with our route gave us the freedom to make a 2-hr pit stop to take in the gorgeous views!

 

 

3 – Nail down who’s in the party

Alright, who’s coming?! Get a committed headcount so you know you have the space in the vehicle (which also has to fit your stuff!). Make sure everyone knows where you’re daily meet up spot is if you’re caravanning!

 

 

4 – Delegate responsibilities

If you’re got a crew tagging along, delegate responsibilities. Snack duty, music duty and directions duty are all critical aspects of a successful road trip. It’s a good idea to let those folks know how significant their role is. No one wants to get stuck driving through the dead zones of Kansas with nothing to listen to but that weird U2 album that was automatically downloaded to everyone’s phones (unless you’re into that).

 

5 – Pick your activities beforehand

Ok this is two-fold. Part 1 – activities for the car. Podcasts and good tunes will get you far, but if you’re really in for the long haul it’s good to mix it up. My best friend and I moved out to Colorado at the same time, but in different vehicles, we were about 2-6 hrs off of each other the whole time. She had the genius idea to create a scavenger hunt on the drive from Virginia to the Rockies. The list of about 15 items ranged from a tumbleweed to an armadillo (there’s a Brass Armadillo store right next to I-70 on the west side of Denver that I saw and it put me and my uncle 1 up on my friend and her boyfriend). It was such a great way to pass the time and keep us alert.

Part 2 – Any plans for once you reach your destination? It’s nice to have a short list of activities in an area. Over the summer we camped outside Buena Vista, CO and there was a bluegrass festival going on in town that we could walk to from our campsite. Are there multiple sites or hikes in the area you’re heading to? Having a list of possibilities is always fun to discuss with your posse around the campfire the night before.

 

6 – Make sure you have all your equipment

Now that you know what you’re going to do once you get there, you need to do a gear check! For my husband and I, we’re normally heading to a spot to go mountain biking. That means we need our packs, spare tubes, helmets, shoes, pads, shorts, snacks and…our bikes. Make sure you have a list of all the equipment you’ll need once you reach your destination based on the activities you plan on doing. It SUCKS knowing you just drove X hours and you forgot something important.

 

 

7 – Prep food beforehand

This one is my favorite! I love planning out meals and snacks for a trip and the idea of having plenty of good food options around me just makes me feel more comfortable ha! Prepping meals beforehand can be tough if your road trip is more spur of the moment, but even little things can go a long way.

We are totally spoiled in our Boreas camper, with a Domestic fridge and 2-burner stove. But even with that, at one point last summer I pre-cooked some spaghetti noodles so that when we got to camp I was able to use just one pan to heat up the noodles and sauce. This saved 40 minutes (exaggeration for dramatic effect) of waiting for the water to boil, not to mention all of the wasted water.

I am also a big fan of bags. Plastic bags (and I keep, wash and re-use mine!) are great for holding said soggy noodles and will fit into spaces that larger, stiffer containers won’t. And when you’ve used whatever is in the bag, it takes up basically no space, whereas Tupperware is still as big empty as full. I’ll also put something like asparagus in a bag with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I can just dump it in the pan when it’s ready to go instead of having to bring all of those things in their separate containers. Save space, save time, save clean up afterwards. That’s a yes from me.

 

 

Having meals lined out (or assigned to members of the party, see point 4) beforehand takes the pressure off once you arrive at your destination. If you have snacks and food ready to go (or even a menu so the trip to the grocery store has some focus) it’s nice to know it’s taken care of and you can head straight to camp (and potentially get a better spot!) then if you had to spend another hour stocking up.

 

8 – Have the knowledge

Do you have a map if you get out of cell service? Do you need a permit to camp? Do you know the rules of the area that you’re going? Could you change your tire if you got a flat? These are all things to know before you hit the road on your trip. Making sure you have all the right information on an area, especially those that are more delicate than others, is a great way to make sure you have a successful road trip.

Another way to get the knowledge is by attending events like Off-Grid Expo. Taking place in Golden, CO at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds October 2-4, 2020, there will be dozens of vendors with the equipment, knowledge and know-how to get you where you need to go (and back again safely!).

And there you have it, 8 tips for making a road trip a success. We hope that you found this list helpful to getting out on the road for your next getaway. We’d love to hear thoughts on different ways to make your road trips more enjoyable. Let us know what road trip tips you’ve found helpful in your own adventures by commenting below.

 

Guest Author at | Website

Maggie grew up in Virginia and spent 3 years in New York City before wanting more access to the outdoors. She moved to Colorado in 2014 and hasn’t looked back! A ski instructor in Breckenridge, she took to mountain biking during the summer. After moving to the Front Range in 2016 the adventures continued, with camping being a big theme.

Her favorite spot to camp is 18 Rd in Fruita, Colorado and her favorite camping buddies are her husband, Matt and their dog, Durango.

27 thoughts on “8 Tips for Making a Road Trip a Success

  • February 22, 2020 at 12:34 pm
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    Now that my kids are older, I no longer go on road trips because I just don’t have time for it. Your post brought back fond memories of our road trips with the kids.

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  • February 11, 2020 at 11:57 am
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    These are really very helpful tips. I love travelling too. I will remember these tips for my next trip.

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  • February 11, 2020 at 11:32 am
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    There are some great tips here for making sure a road trip goes well. I agree planning is key x

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  • February 10, 2020 at 10:19 pm
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    Excellent post! I’m a huge fan of road trips and so I was very excited to read this post. I like your points about planning the trip out, but also being flexible. I’m ALWAYS afraid to deviate from my plans, but you seemed to have success when you went “off course” for a bit, so maybe I’ll try that on my next trip!

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  • February 10, 2020 at 8:59 pm
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    planning is half the job done. It is so important to get as much information as you can before you head out .Great list!

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  • February 10, 2020 at 5:36 pm
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    Great post!!! You have indeed mentioned a lot of great tips , which I eventually learned the hard way through all these years of road traveling and traveling in general. I would love to share it with my friends.

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  • February 10, 2020 at 4:06 pm
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    These are great tips for the road trip. Definitely pack a ton of cold food, drink and snacks to kill boredom.

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  • February 10, 2020 at 12:41 pm
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    I love taking road trips! The best part about them is finding the little holes in the wall!

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  • February 10, 2020 at 8:28 am
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    I love road trips. I love planning road trips. I always plan in advance when we do road trips, I read from other travel blogs and research the places.

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  • February 10, 2020 at 3:14 am
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    I have never done a road trip but I am always tempted to do one. Especially because of all the scenery I miss on my way to any destination. This is such a helpful checklist to help me plan my first road trip. Otherwise, I would not know where to start.

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  • February 10, 2020 at 1:41 am
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    Great tips, Road trips are something I have always wanted to embark on but don’t want to experience it alone or plan one by myself. But reading these tips puts me in the mood to actually give it a go!

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  • February 9, 2020 at 11:54 pm
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    Road trips are awesome, but they are also a lot of work. It really helps to be prepared and make the best of your travels.

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  • February 9, 2020 at 11:39 pm
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    We love road trips as a family. Now that my children are grown, we take turns driving, so that way really long trips don’t tire out one single person. Preparation is key and I love how you listed everything down in this post. Very helpful! Bookmarking for when we get to do another memorable one.

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  • February 9, 2020 at 5:46 pm
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    Planning for any trip is so very important to make sure you have the best experience possible!

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  • February 9, 2020 at 3:28 pm
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    I love to plan holidays well in advance so that there are no regrets later. Your tips are really very practical and if taken care of would ensure a hassle free trip. Delegating responsibility and prepping of food is so important.

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  • February 9, 2020 at 2:02 pm
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    Going on a road trip is my favourite thing when travelling. I too love to plan ahead the tour and the route through which we will be going. But yes to prepare for a detour or any deviation in road route is also a great idea because there can be any road closure or last-minute changes in the plan. For activities, I carry my favourite music with me as a road trip with great music is my favourite thing. I also load my car full of snacks and other essentials because sometimes we do not spot any roadside eatery for long distances and at that time my snacks bar becomes favourite of all.

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  • February 8, 2020 at 11:58 pm
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    I love a good road trip. When the weather gets better we are going on some road trips this year.

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  • February 8, 2020 at 9:49 pm
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    I love planning a road trip with fun stops along the way! This is what makes road trips fun!

    -Jennifer

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  • February 8, 2020 at 9:12 pm
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    I agree delegating makes life so much easier!

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  • February 8, 2020 at 5:11 pm
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    I’ve not been camping since I was a child. I think I’d really need to make this my checklist when I get brave enough to face the outdoors overnight.

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  • February 8, 2020 at 12:16 pm
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    Wow! Very nice post on how to have a successful road trip. The best part of a road trip is to be away from the crowds and I love to explore places by road where I have never been before. I totally agree that planning the destination is completely important before executing the road trip. Also, you need to be ready with all the accessories and food. However, I do not prefer packed food, so I will try my best to get fresh veggies and cook instead. Thanks for all the tips you have shared here.

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  • February 8, 2020 at 10:23 am
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    I haven’t yet tried a road trip but I would love too. When I travel I always Plan my destination I do read blogs and watch vlogs for the great tips and ideas. These tips would help a lot for me to apply in future road trips 🙂

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  • February 8, 2020 at 2:20 am
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    We don’t take many road trips, but when we do I do try to do as many of these as I can, they are such helpful things to do to make the trip easy!

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  • February 7, 2020 at 7:32 pm
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    I have to admit, when it comes to planning road trips for just myself or my family, I do all the planning, from the moment departing the starting point to the finish point, marking off possible gas station stops, rest stops, coffee shop stops on the way to even pulling over and take in some of the sights. I usually have a GPS for towns and cities but if it’s a long-distance drive say Vancouver to Calgary, I don’t even have a GPS on for that. Its just one road and its signposted. One thing is whilst reading this post and writing this comment, I can’t remember the last time I held a map book :O

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  • February 7, 2020 at 3:39 pm
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    This is super informative and great tips. I want to road trip now!!

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  • February 7, 2020 at 2:37 pm
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    We sometimes plan out everything for our road trips. And other times leave a lot of decisions to one or two days before we hit a new spot. Often depends on how long we are road tripping for. We certainly learned on our last road trip to plan our activities in advance. And book them too. We missed a few things we wanted to do because there was no availability when we arrived. We use a great offline map app that helps us when we lose cell service. Some good tips for planning for success.

    Reply

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