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AAA World | Road Trip
Make Your Next Road Trip the Best Yet

FROM PLANNING TO PACKING TO PHOTOGRAPHING, HERE’S HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR ROAD TRIP

There’s something uniquely American about road trips. Maybe it’s our pioneering spirit and innate thirst for adventure. Or perhaps it’s the nation’s 4-million-plus miles of scenic highways, byways and backroads just begging to be explored.

For my family, the beauty of road tripping is the rare opportunity for planned spontaneity. We choose our companions, set our own pace and peel off at our leisure to experience the best of each passing locale.

clam bake with corn and potatoes

Some of our trips have been all about the food—spicy Tijuana dogs, flaky-sweet Wisconsin kringles, New England clam bakes and other signature fare. Other times, we’ve gotten our kicks by checking off iconic stadiums from our baseball-lovers’ bucket list. On countless more meanderings, we’ve learned to find ourselves by getting lost in the untamed beauty of our national parks.

Indeed, road trips are what we make of them. But there’s one adage that rings true for us: The journey matters just as much as the destination—perhaps even more. Here’s some of the best ways my family has found for making our road trips safe, comfortable and memorable.

little girl playing with toy in car seat

KEEPING IT PERSONAL
KNOW YOUR COMPANIONS

Their age, activity level, time and budget constraints, dietary restrictions and travel preferences can all impact the experience. Setting expectations and limitations up front goes a long way toward choosing a destination and arriving at other key decisions.

PLOT YOUR COURSE
With your crew on board and destination in view, it’s time to drag out a road map. Start by circling all must-see spots along your route—and don’t be afraid to go broad. You can always cull your list later in the planning or even while on the road.

BOOK WELL IN ADVANCE
As you plan, keep an eye on events calendars for theaters, amusement parks, festivals, historic sites and popular restaurants that require reservations. In addition to saving my family time and hassle in the long run, my pre-trip research almost always uncovers special discounts and coupon codes, including those from AAA.

man in auto repair shop shaking hands with mechanic

GETTING COMFORTABLE
GEAR UP FOR SAFETY

Schedule necessary vehicle maintenance. Equally vital, prep your mind and body for the long drive ahead by hitting the road well-rested and properly hydrated.

A pre-trip checkup at any of 7,000+ AAA Approved Auto Repair Facilities nationwide. Learn more.

PACK FOR MAXIMUM COMFORT
From compression socks and breathable scarves to essential oil diffusers and foam seat pads, the travel product market is filled with creature-comforts that help you fight stiffness and fatigue and adapt to fluctuating temperatures inside the car. My personal favorite: a console organizer to keep lip balm, sunglasses and other driving essentials within easy reach.

OPTIMIZE DEVICES
Make sure phones and tablets are fully charged and equipped with the right tech. In addition to map and music platforms, we’ve used handy travel-centric offerings like the free Splitwise app, which tracks shared expenses and lets group members settle up later.

3 girls taking selfie next to car

CREATING MEMORIES
BRAINSTORM BONDING

Even besties can run out of things to talk about after a few hours. That’s why it never hurts to come prepared with a few boredom-busting word games, thought-provoking conversation starters and energizing playlists.

LIVE IN THE MOMENT
Road trips are about shaking off routines and trying new things, which can be challenging at times. I’ve learned over the years to embrace whatever the day brings—whether it’s a traffic jam or the best peach jam ever—as a memory in the making.

BUT DOCUMENT YOUR TRIP
We all know that person who lives life through their phone, snapping pics and videos of every waking moment. Don’t be that person. But do give yourself little mementos, whether it’s a hilarious commemorative photo, a beautiful bit of sea glass or a used ticket stub. You’ll be grateful for such tangible reminders as you look back with fondness on your best road trip ever.