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Road trips can be a great way to spend time with your family and friends. But they can also be a lot of work! From packing to driving to managing a budget, there are a lot of things to plan for. To ensure that you have the best possible trip, we’ve compiled 7 important steps for planning a successful road trip.

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

Planning Ahead

The first step to a successful road trip is planning ahead. Packing for a trip can be a lot of work, so it’s important to start early.

How much time will you spend at each destination? Who will be the designated driver and will you switch off? Who will be in charge of the snacks?

The first step is planning your itinerary and making sure you have the necessary equipment to transport everyone comfortably. Another good idea is to make sure your vehicle is in good shape, you have an emergency kit and roadside assistance.

Be sure to plan for downtime and adequate rest at each destination.

Finally, make sure you have all of the information about your destination including directions or GPS coordinates if needed.

Choosing a Route to Take

The first step in planning a successful road trip is choosing a route. This choice will be based on where you want to go, how much time you have, and the distance from your starting location.

For example, if you’re going on a long weekend trip with your family, it’s probably best to decide on an area close by so you won’t spend too much time driving.

Maybe someone in your party has destinations along the way they want to visit. It is best to collect this information before solidifying any plans.

Woman packing suitcase. Photo by Vlada Karpovich
Woman packing suitcase. Photo by Vlada Karpovich


One of the most important steps in planning a successful road trip is packing. But packing for a long car ride can be difficult if you don’t know what to bring.

You may want to ask yourself the following questions: What location will you be driving through? What time of year is it? Is there space in the car for all of your luggage?

If you’re driving through snowy regions, then you’ll want to pack heavy winter clothes and other cold-weather accessories. If it’s summer or you live in an area where it never snows, then there should be less concern about packing for cold weather.

If there are multiple people on the road trip, it can be a better idea to pack lightly to make sure there is ample room in the vehicle for everyone’s luggage.

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Keeping Your Car Clean

It goes without saying that you don’t want your car to smell like dirty socks or last week’s food. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your car clean.

To ensure things go smoothly, do a pre-road trip car cleaning. Remove any crumbs or trash from the car. Vacuum the floor mats and seats. Wash the windows and mirrors. Clean the dashboard by wiping down all surfaces with a damp cloth and glass cleaner.

It is best to designate a trash collection bin or bag before the road trip starts. This will keep your car organized and help mitigate any trash buildup during the trip.

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Getting There on Time

One of the most important steps in planning your trip is ensuring that you know when to leave. Make sure to schedule enough time for travel, but also make sure not to overbook yourself.

To help you better plan ahead, track the weather forecast at your destination. Leave early enough to accommodate any delays or sudden changes in plans. Also, plan on stopping every two hours and taking a break.

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Budgeting for the Trip

It’s important to plan your budget for a road trip before you leave. This way, you won’t have to worry about overspending while on the trip. It’s also a good idea to take some cash with you in case any unplanned expenses arise.

What is your goal for this trip? Are you looking to spend less than $500? Do you want to spend more than $750? Whatever your upper limit is, it’s always best to know what it is before you start budgeting and packing for the trip.

There are a number of gas cost calculators available on the internet to help you estimate how much you will be spending on fuel. Also, you can reduce your food expenses by stocking up at the grocery store at the start of the trip.

Budgeting. Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Budgeting. Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Managing Discomfort Along the Way

Some people find that after a few hours on the road, they’re feeling restless and uncomfortable. If you find yourself feeling tired while driving, try switching drivers. Sharing driving duties will help reduce fatigue.

Also, try to drive during daylight hours.

Keep your eyes peeled for rest stops or small towns where you can stop for a break or grab some dinner if need be.

Explore ideas for your next road trip with more of our articles:

Author Bio: Sandy Page is a life-long adventurer. In her free time, she reads and consumes copious amounts of hot beverages.

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