Essentials To Get Ready Before a Holiday Road Trip
Essentials to Get Ready Before a Holiday Road Trip
Guest Post by Alek Sabin
As winter creeps up on us, people start to travel a lot more, whether to take a seasonal vacation or go see family for the holidays. While many people plan on flying to their final destination, plenty of other families take the usually cheaper option to hop into the car and take a road trip! This comes with its fair share of logistical challenges, though. Here are some essentials that you should get ready when preparing for a holiday road trip…
Plan Your Trip
The first thing you need to decide is where you’re going. As fun it is to get in the car and just drive, it is always much wiser to have a plan. Here are some essential questions to ask to help you choose a destination:
How much time do you have?
How long is it going to take to drive round trip?
Is there a national park nearby that you’ve always wanted to see?
How much is gas going to cost? (Here’s some tips to make it go further.)
How many nights will you have to stay in a hotel?
If you’re going to be going somewhere far, can you handle the long days in the car?
Would it be better, cheaper, or less stressful to fly?
Will your car safely make the trip?
As you plan where you are headed, it may be a good idea to plan your stops as well, so that you have a general idea of where you will need to get gas, spend the night, etc. There are a few apps and sites to help you plan out your trip such as FuelMyRoute (to help you find the cheapest place to stop for gas), Roadtrippers, and AlongTheWay. While many phones and cars nowadays are equipped with GPS technology, it may be a good idea to bring a map along, just in case.
Book Ahead or Be Flexible?
You can either book your hotels in advance, or you can walk in and request a room. It might be cheaper to book in advance, and some hotels and campsites will be full if you don’t book ahead, but if you don’t know exactly where you’re going to end up at night, it may not be worth making a reservation (especially if there is a cancellation fee). If you are ok with being a bit more spontaneous, you can book your hotels as you are driving to them, but if you are not, you might want to plan your accommodations far in advance.
Get Your Car Inspected
Bouncing off of the last question, it is important to make sure that your car will safely make the trip. For example, what if your tires aren’t prepared to take on a long trip through potentially icy roads? It’s probably time to get them replaced. Take your car into a mechanic at least two weeks before you leave. Many auto mechanic shops do a pre-road trip inspection to make sure that everything is working just fine. It may be a good idea to get an oil change as well.
Before you embark, you will need to pack enough clothes and other supplies for your trip. Try your best to pack light so that everything will fit in your car, but also so that you will have better gas mileage. Practice smart packing as well. Put everything that you will need to reach quickly (such as phone chargers, food, and a change of clothes) right on the top so that you won’t have to go digging to find something.
Road trips can be boring if you’re not prepared. If you have interesting passengers, you can talk the day away, but if someone falls asleep, or if it’s been a long day, no one will feel much like talking. Download any games you want to play on your phone before you leave, and make sure that you bring plenty of movies and music. And of course, don’t forget your charger!
Finalize Who’s Coming
You need to get a head count of everyone who is coming on your road trip with you as soon as possible. This will help you decide whose car you should take (or if you should rent a bigger one), as well as help you calculate about how much you need to save for the trip. It might be a good idea to take a trip deposit from everyone so that they won’t bail on you last minute. If you are going to be traveling with someone who is especially high maintenance, you will also need to plan on having enough time in the morning for them to get ready.
Every road trip needs plenty of snacks to keep you and the other passengers happy. Before you go, make a run to the grocery store and get a few snacks for the road. Try to get everything that you would like beforehand, as it will be quite expensive to go out to eat for every meal, or buy snacks from a gas station. Get a small cooler for perishables (such as lunch meat or cheese), and keep the rest in a large box. Make sure that you also designate a bag or bin for garbage so that you don’t end up with a mess on your hands.