How to plan for a perfect road trip

Travel tips

Road tripping is one of the most fun ways to travel. I love the freedom, you can go wherever you want at any time. After road tripping in the United States, France, Cuba, and Canada, I consider myself to be a quite experienced road tripper. In this article, I’ll tell you how to plan for a perfect road trip.

This article is also available in Dutch

Pick the right car

Perfect Road Trip - pick the right car
Since I don’t own a car (you don’t need one in Amsterdam), I always have to rent one. Make sure to think about the kind of road trip you want to do before you rent a car. 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 (if the rental car company allows it), make sure to get a 4WD.

Don’t plan on driving too many kilometers every day

It’s very tempting to make long itineraries in Google Maps for your next road trip. But don’t plan too many kilometers a day! The best thing about road trips is stopping at unexpected places that might surprise you. So take your time. I always aim for driving a maximum of 200 kilometers (125 miles) a day (an average for the complete road trip). Sometimes you’ll drive 500 a day, but you can also have rest days on the days you don’t drive. And you will always make more kilometers than you plan in advance. For example, we planned to do a 3500-kilometer road trip in the southwest of the United States, and at the end, we drove about 5000 kilometers. While planning, you’ll always forget the trips to the supermarkets, getting lost and driving in national parks.

How to navigate?

Do you prefer maps or a navigation system? Bring whatever you prefer! But think about bringing navigation from Europe to the USA and the other way around, because usually you only have maps for a specific area, so it might not work. If you rent a car, it’s easy to rent navigation as well, but that’s quite pricey. For longer road trips it might be cheaper just to buy a navigation device. You can also use your phone for navigation, but make sure to download offline maps before you go (Maps.me is a good app for navigation).
If you prefer old-school paper maps (I do!), you can buy them in pretty much every gas station.

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 a Gatorade is nice for a change. For food, always bring fruit (the ones that are easy to eat while you’re driving, like apples, grapes, and strawberries). And crackers, cookies, and candy are must-haves as well.

Take a break

Perfect Road Trip - take a break
Please take a break if you’re on a long drive, preferably every 1,5 or 2 hours. You stay fresh for driving, which is safer (for you and for everybody around you). You’ll always find a place to rest for a while, grab a snack and enjoy the view.

Get the ultimate playlist

Sing along in the car is one of the best things of a road trip, right? For every road trip, I make a new playlist in Spotify (road tripping in the USA is different from road tripping in Cuba). There are a bunch of songs I put in every playlist, like Willie Nelsons On the road again and, I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) by The Proclaimers. If you have a paid Spotify-account, you can play your favorite playlists offline as well.

Enjoy your road trip!

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