Planning a Road Trip

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Summary: A road trip is a great adventure, but planning a successful one requires a lot of thought and strategy.

Though all vacations require organization and effort, road trips may seem overwhelming if you consider all the individual options and steps involved in planning a road trip. Consider vehicle maintenance, routes, stops and your budget on top of planning and packing for the destination.

Equally important to think about is how many people are going on the trip with you. Is this a solo journey, or are family or friends joining you? These are some of the major considerations that may be on your mind as you plan your trip.

You’re not alone. 43% of American households are also considering road trips, so you can understand the collective concern about getting it right. With proper planning, you can prepare for your road trip like a pro.

How to plan a road trip

There’s always a better and more effective way to plan a road trip. Think about it—you want to make the trip as memorable and successful as it can be. Here’s how:

Choose Your Route

When planning a road trip, the first thing you need to know is where you’re going. What makes road trips so special is that the journey can be just as exciting as the destination.

A good way to choose your route is to look at a map and see if anything you would like to see or do is between you and your final destination. Once you know your destination and specific places to visit, decide whether to plan more stops on the way there or on the way home.

Try working backward to your starting point to plan your route. If you need to be at your destination by a certain date, think about how far you want to drive each day and still see or do the things you’ve planned.

For example, if you have a 12-hour trip, it could take you anywhere between one and three days. You could drive straight through in one day, or break it up into multiple sections. Maybe you want to detour and drive through a national park, taking up four hours of one day, and stop at another attraction the next day. That might extend your trip to two or even three days.

Once you know roughly how much time it will take to arrive at your destination, start to focus on the details.

Set a budget

Planning a road trip budget can be challenging, because like most travelers, you likely won’t know every stop or the price of gas at every station during your drive.

Using the information you’ve already outlined, calculate how much gas you’ll need by estimating how many miles you’ll travel each day.

Don’t forget the cost of activities. That detour through the national park could cost you anywhere between $20 and $50 for admission (though many are free). Research the costs of attractions you know you’ll want to visit so that you can budget for those costs and have the correct form of payment.

Determine hotel costs in advance and add them to your budget. Though meals are harder to budget for, give yourself an estimated cost per meal.

You may also want to try bringing breakfast bars and snacks with you to keep costs down. Most travelers do that, as snack stops can add up over a multi-day trip.

Though setting up a travel budget can be time-consuming, it’s a great way to cut out unexpected costs and not overspend while on your trip.

Check your vehicle

Before planning any road trip, make sure your vehicle is ready to hit the road. Check your oil and fluids, and inspect your tires for wear and proper inflation. This can help prevent blowouts and ensure a smooth ride.

It’s equally important to have emergency supplies readily available in your vehicle. These may include a spare tire, jack, jumper cables, flashlight, first aid kit, and basic tools for minor repairs.

If you have these items on hand, they can add to your peace of mind and help you feel prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.

Taking the time to check your vehicle before departure not only enhances safety but also minimizes the risk of experiencing breakdowns or delays, allowing you to fully enjoy the journey ahead.

Whether you’re traveling solo, with family, or with friends, prioritizing vehicle maintenance ensures a smoother and more enjoyable road trip experience for everyone.

Incorporate technology

Think about how technology can help you on your road trip. Mobile apps for your phone can be helpful as you explore new places.
AAA TripTiks and other trip planners are great for planning your trips. The AAA trip-planning app helps pinpoint your route, provide real-time directions, and adjust your itinerary if necessary.

Input your takeoff point and destination and it shows you all the hotels, restaurants, gas or charging stations, and attractions along your route.

Roadtrippers is another tool that you can use to plan for stops along your route. It offers a free and paid version depending on the features you need. Waze helps keep up with traffic and reroutes, and iExit can find the right exit for your plans.

Consider integrating Furkot into your road trip planning. Furkot is a versatile and free platform that maps out your route and identifies key points of interest, optimizing your travel itinerary.

Using apps such as these can reduce the hassles associated with road trips, allowing you to focus on the joy of the open road.


1. What is the best way to plan a road trip?

Start by choosing your route, setting a budget, checking your vehicle, exploring points of interest, and packing well. Utilize road trip planning tools, such as Roadtrippers and Furkot, for a seamless experience.

2. Can you drive 1000 miles in a day?

While it’s physically possible to drive 1000 miles in a day, it’s not recommended for safety reasons. Breaking up long drives into multiple days allows for rest and enjoyment of the journey.

3. What are essential items to pack for a road trip?

Essential items include chargers, snacks, entertainment, weather-appropriate clothing, emergency supplies, and travel documents. Use a checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything crucial.

4. How can technology assist on a road trip?

Technology can assist on a road trip through mobile apps such as Roadtrippers, Waze, and iExit. These apps help with route planning, real-time traffic updates, finding attractions, and locating amenities along the way.

5. How do I save on road trip expenses?

To save on road trip expenses, create a budget, research attraction costs in advance, use hotel booking platforms for deals, bring snacks to minimize dining costs, and explore free or low-cost activities along your route.

Road trip planning at your fingertips

In the end, a lot goes into planning a road trip, and the more thought you put into it, the better the outcome. Whether you’re traveling with grandkids or friends, these tips will help ensure your journey goes smoothly and provide you with a fun experience of the open road.

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