Ways to make the most of a cross-country adventure

AAA World Article

Road trips can be some of the most fun, cost-effective and flexible types of vacations around. All you need is a car full of gas, plus family or a few friends—a big contrast to trips that require plane tickets, visas, and detailed itineraries. The next time you’re planning to hit the road for a few days, follow these six easy tips to ensure an unforgettable time.

On just about every road trip, you will find yourself dealing with something unexpected. Traffic that puts you four hours behind, a flat tire that forces you to repair your car on the side of a highway or even something as simple as deciding you don’t feel like driving any farther. Things happen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared ahead of time to avoid ruining your trip.

Start by making sure you have some sort of access to roadside assistance to help you get back on the road faster in the event of an emergency. Cars have problems when you least expect it, and it’s best that you are prepared in advance. If a traffic jam or car troubles put you behind, consider springing for a hotel room for the night so you can get a good night’s sleep and start fresh the next morning. Sometimes a little shut eye will make you forget all about the sea of red lights that made you want to pull your hair out.

One of the best things about a road trip is that there are no set schedules like there are on a plane or a train. That means you have all the time needed to explore without worrying about running late for something. Take that freedom as an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and do something different. Give yourself time to stop into random towns, see the world’s largest ball of twine, or sample some of the best roadside barbeque in your state. You’ll never regret those few precious hours with your best friends exploring a place for the first time.

It’s very easy to allow for your health and wellness goals to go out the window while on a road trip. Between gas station snacks and the plethora of fast food options you’ll find on the road, there is a lot of opportunity for enjoying some less than healthy snacks. In order to curb this, and save some cash along the way, be sure to stock your car full of healthy foods. Go beyond more common snack standbys like deli sandwiches, and create snacks that are just as enticing as a quick run to a fast food joint. Freshly baked blueberry muffins, crisp veggies with a dipping sauce, or trail mix are just a few options.

Most people take road trips with multiple people, and a great way to stay organized is to designate roles to each person on the trip. By putting one person in charge of the playlist, one person in charge of snacks, one person in charge of navigation, and so on, you’ll be able to share responsibilities and ensure the trip goes as smoothly as possible. The last thing you want is to make one person feel like they’re doing all the work, and this is an easy way to make sure that doesn’t happen.

One of our favorite things to do before heading off on any road trip is to see what sights and activities will be along the way. There are a few great apps out there, including the AAA Mobile® app, that can help you find interesting things to see along your journey.

When traveling with a group, whether beloved family members or favorite friends, rendezvous beforehand to talk about what each person wants to do and see in order to manage expectations during the trip. Also, be flexible to ensure everyone in the car has a good time and gets to do many of the things they want to along the way.