How to Plan the Ultimate Road Trip and What to Pack

Planning the Ultimate Road Trip

Setting out on the open road for a multi-state, multi-city road trip has become a rite of passage for many adventurous spirits. But road trips aren’t exclusive to Australia or to the summer months, and the possibilities for an epic journey are nearly endless—whether you’re behind the wheel of a RV or packed in a cozy hatchback.

The open road is your oyster!

Of course, like any successful vacation, approaching your road trip with a healthy blend of planning and flexibility will help make it a memorable and enjoyable one.

So, break out your favorite sunnies, ready your travel playlist, and browse these tips for planning and packing for your first (or next) road trip.

Choose Your Starting and End Points, and Mostly Everything in Between

If your heart is set on taking a road trip, but you’re not quite sure where to go, don’t fret. There’s an app for that!

In fact, there are many, many apps for that:

  • Roadtrippers – This road trip planning app offers an all-in-one solution for your trip—from planning to lodging to turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Furkot – Consider this a modern update to the old-school atlas. Use it to map your overall itinerary, including stops and connecting routes throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
  • Myscenicdrives – If picture-perfect views are what your road trip dreams are made of, this app has you covered. Choose from numerous pre-planned itineraries to U.S. national parks with recommended stops.

All of these app options can also help you plan the meat (or meat alternative) of your road trip: the pit stops. While the final destination is the final meal, all of the small excursions are the tasty appetizers.

Pick a few major stops around monuments, attractions, or cities you’ve always wanted to pass through. If you need inspiration, browse a few guidebooks or ask friends and family for recommendations.

Once you get started, you’ll quickly realize that choosing where not to go will be the challenge. But you can always save stops that don’t make the list this time for your next road trip.

Pack Only the Essentials

Traveling by car gives you more flexibility than winter packing for air travel or backpacking, but don’t get carried away by filling every inch of free space with gear.

Pack just the bare minimum.

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Your list won’t be exactly the same as the next road traveler, but common essentials include:

  • Clothes for different weather – Don’t let the rain or frigid temps catch you by surprise. Pack a raincoat, a sweater, and a good pair of shoes, just in case.
  • Prescriptions and medications – Keep up with your normal routine with prescriptions, vitamins, and CBD gel caps—even if you’ll only be gone a week.
  • Cooler and travel mug – Snacks and cold beverages will sustain you between stops for meals.
  • Emergency kit – Prep essentials in case of a crash, such as blankets, a first aid kit, jumper cables, and a flashlight.
  • Chargers – Avoid a dead smartphone battery by packing plenty of charging cables or wireless charging options.

Crunch Some Numbers

One helpful way to edit your list of stops is to do a bit of number crunching to decide your travel budget.

The top factors to consider:

  • Trip length – Figure out exactly how long you want to be (and can be) on the road. Do you have one week or a month to work with?
  • Driving time – Divvying up time behind the wheel is fair, practical, and simply part of the fun of a road trip, so make sure the journey is manageable by breaking down legs by driving hours between you and your road-tripping companion(s).
  • Meal and lodging costs – Some impulsivity is always a good thing when traveling but booking rooms in advance and setting a food budget will help you stay on your timeline—and still enjoy those impromptu moments that you’ll capture on the gram.

Next Stop: Your Memorable Road Trip

A multi-leg road trip requires planning, and, sure, these tips can help you iron out the details. But it’s also important to avoid overplanning or fixating on every little possibility.

After all, spontaneity is part of the beauty of traveling, right?

Skip the flight and get ready to feel the wind in your hair, stop for once-in-a-lifetime snapshots, and enjoy all of the pleasant surprises (that you didn’t and couldn’t necessarily plan for) along the way.

Dave Peterson

Dave Peterson Passion for adventure and sharing his life long journey with as many others as possible. "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." HENRY S. HASKINS

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