A Five-Step Guide to Plan Your Next Road Trip

By Chasity Hobbs

Whether you’ve been planning a vacation or you spontaneously decide to get away, road tripping through the United States is a great way to see what this beautiful country has to offer! A cheaper alternative to flying and international travel, exploring your own backyard can expose you to hidden gems that you never would have known were there. But, before you hit the road, there are a few steps you should follow to maximize the chances of a safe and successful road trip. We’ve put together this simple five-step process you can use to plan your next road-tripping adventure!

1. Pick Your Destination

What’s your goal for the road trip? Do you want to visit family and friends in New York, relax on the beautiful beaches of Florida, visit a national park, or simply explore your local region? Picking your adventure destination is the very first step to planning your road trip. Once you start researching, you may be surprised by how many awe-inspiring places are just a short drive away!

2. Block Out the Dates

Next, plan in advance and know when you’ll be available! Is this going to be a weekend trip, or can you stack PTO and a long weekend so you have more time off to potentially go farther on the road? It’s also important to know if the places you want to see will be open, the family you want to visit will be available, and to make sure you leave time for the unexpected. 

Lastly, you’ll probably want to check the weather: some places have an off-season, so you’ll want to make sure you plan accordingly. Extreme heat or a snowstorm might not be ideal conditions for exploring and driving—unless you’re into that kind of thing. This leads us to the next step in our list.

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3. Itinerary Planning

Now you generally know where you want to go, it’s time to scout the specific locations, sights, and activities you want to see and do on your adventure! Once you’ve picked all the fun things you want to hit, throw them all into a GPS or cell phone map and see the estimated driving times, most efficient driving routes to get to each location, and whether it’s feasible to do everything in the timeline that you have.

4. Logistics

Things are coming along perfectly! You’ve picked your destination, blocked out the dates, planned the route and activities, so now it’s time to prepare for the nitty-gritty. The first order of business is to create a road trip budget. Depending on where you are going and how far, things can get pricey. Gas costs in California will be a “little” higher than in Alabama! Think about where you will be sleeping and make sure you get permits, tickets, and reservations for the activities you’ll be doing. Most importantly, have your vehicle serviced and inspected for safety, check that your insurance and registration paperwork is up to date, prepare your first aid and safety supplies, plan meals or buy groceries, and fill up the tank so you’re ready to go!

5. Hit the Road

This is arguably the hardest part because preparation may go perfectly, but more often than not something will wrong. But don’t let this deter you! Just like in life, things may never be 100% ready and perfect. Use this as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and make your next trip even more successful. Planning and executing a road trip will leave you with a newfound level of confidence in yourself and appreciation for this beautiful country and your own backyard.

Vacationing can have a profound effect on your physical and mental health and well-being. With so much to do during the workweek and all the stress that comes with living in a constantly connected, fast-paced life, it’s so helpful to disconnect and spend some time away, returning to “real life” refreshed, rejuvenated, and healthier. So, have fun planning your next road trip, get out there and see the sights, and happy adventuring!

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How to Plan a Stellar Southwest Road Trip

By Valerie Stimac Bailey

Second / Episode 2