Going on a road trip is a great way of traveling. How can you make it even more fun? Here are some tips on how to plan a road trip.
Road trip tips: what to arrange before you go
How do you properly prepare for a road trip? Make sure to arrange this before you leave.
Pick the right car
Decide what kind of road trip you are going to take. Do you want to drive from hotel to hotel? Then you won’t need the fanciest car, just the one that can hold your luggage. Are you planning on camping? Then you’ll probably need a bigger one because you’re bringing more stuff.
It’s always better to pick a bigger car over a smaller one if you’re not sure. And if you want to go off-road for a bit, it might be smart to get a 4WD. If you’re planning on renting a car, make sure to check the fine print of the car rental company, sometimes you’re not allowed to go off-road.
Get your car ready for the road trip
Will you be road tripping with your own car? Make sure your car is all set. Check the oil level, top up coolant and check tire pressure. You’ll hit the road with much more peace of mind with a well-maintained car.
Find out what documents you need
Of course, you’ll always need your driver’s license and car papers, but in some countries, you’ll need even more. Especially when you’re road tripping in Europe. For example, in many German cities, you need a special environmental sticker, and in Switzerland, you need a toll vignette to drive on the highway. You also need an international driver’s license in some countries. So it’s always good to find out in advance what you need in which country.
Know the local traffic rules
Yes, you have taken a driving test and know all about the traffic rules in your own country. These are largely the same abroad, but there are always rules you don’t know (yet). Do some research on the local traffic rules beforehand, so you won’t have any unexpected surprises.
How to navigate?
It’s always helpful to make sure you know where you are, so a map of the area or a navigation system is always handy to have. Personally, I always enjoy buying road maps to find my way around. But when you’re on a solo road trip, that’s not very convenient.
It’s always good to have a navigation system. Either get some good car navigation like Garmin DriveSmart or use your cellphone to navigate. If you use your phone, make sure to download offline maps before you go. Maps.me is a good app for navigation.
Get the right snacks
Oh, how I love my snacks! I always stack up and fill my car with everything I like. I hate being hungry, especially when you end up in a horrible traffic jam. The best thing is to put a cooler in the back, so you can always grab a cold drink.
Water is a must-have, and soda is nice for a change. For food, always bring fruit. Bring fruit that’s easy to eat while you’re driving, like apples, grapes, and strawberries. And crackers, cookies, and candy are must-haves as well.
Get the ultimate road trip playlist
Singing along in the car is one of the best things about a road trip, right? For every road trip, I make a new playlist on Spotify. For example, road tripping in the USA is obviously a different experience from road tripping in Cuba, so make a playlist that fits! If you have a paid Spotify account, you can play your favorite playlists offline as well. Need some inspiration? Check out this list with over 100 awesome road trip songs.
A few fun songs that always do well in a road trip playlist:
- On the road again – Willie Nelson
- Take it easy – Eagles
- Radar Love – Golden Earring
What is your favorite road trip song?
Put a charger in your car
Do you navigate with your phone or use your phone to listen to music? It is then incredibly annoying when the battery is empty. So make sure you have a charger in the car. Can’t you plug that in? Get a power bank.
Don’t plan on driving too many miles in a day
Are you planning a huge road trip? Planning a road trip is incredibly fun! It’s very tempting to start planning nice long itineraries with Google Maps, but make sure you don’t drive too many miles.
The best thing about road trips is stopping at unexpected places that might surprise you. So take your time. Personally, I try to aim for driving a maximum of 250 kilometers (about 150 miles) a day as an average for the whole road trip. Sometimes you’ll drive 400 miles a day, but you probably also want to have a rest day every now and then.
And you will always drive more than you plan in advance. For example, we planned to do a 3500-kilometer road trip in Southwest USA, and in the end, we drove about 5000 kilometers. How come? When you’re planning a road trip, you’ll always forget to add the short trips to the supermarkets, getting lost, and driving in national parks.
How to plan the perfect road trip? A good website to plan out your road trip is Roadtrippers.com, but you can also use Google Maps.
Do you have some car knowledge?
Most of the time you won’t have any problems, but do you know what to do if you have a flat tire? And what do you do if your car won’t start anymore? You can’t call roadside assistance everywhere, so figure out in advance how to solve this. Or how to quickly reach people who do know this.
During your road trip
Yes, you know how to prepare for a road trip now! But what to do during the road trip? En wat te doen tijdens een roadtrip?
Play fun games
Do you have a long driving day and are you a little bored? There are plenty of fun games you can play with your fellow passengers (or on your own). For example, look for a license plate that has the letter A on it. Found it? Then follows the letter B. Are you able to find the whole alphabet? Then you’ve earned a little treat!
Take plenty of breaks
Please take enough breaks if you’re on a long road trip, preferably every 1,5 or 2 hours. You will undoubtedly come across beautiful resting places along the way, make good use of them. You arrive at your destination more rested and then you can enjoy your vacation all the better.
Skip driving the freeways
Yes, using the freeway is obviously the fastest way to get to your destination, but is that a fun route? It’s so much more fun to take some smaller roads and see so much more of the area! The road trip itself is also an adventure and not just a means to get from A to B.
Get inspired for your next road trip
Are you in the mood for a road trip and looking for inspiration? These are a few books full of cool destinations for a road trip:
Fodor’s Best Road Trips in the USA: 50 Epic Trips Across All 50 States
Drives of a Lifetime 2nd Edition: 500 of the World’s Greatest Road Trips
On this website, you can also find several nice road trip itineraries. How about for example:
And check out these posts for useful travel tips:
- Traveling in bad weather: 13 tips on how to deal with it
- How to survive jet lag? 14 tips!
- This is why you should use a VPN for travel!
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This article was published in June 2017. Latest update with more road trip tips: July 2022.
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