Perhaps you’re considering a road trip because it’s your way of taking a vacation. The great thing about road trips is that they’re often less expensive outright than traditional vacations, which can involve booking expensive stays and plane tickets. Furthermore, you can linger more on the sites that you’re truly interested in while on a road trip.

At times, people take road trips not because they necessarily want to, but because they must. Perhaps you’re traveling across the country to visit family, or to move to a new state. No matter why you’re taking a road trip, however, you can make the most of it, and ensure that it’s an enjoyable experience for all involved.

One of the key aspects to ensuring that you have a good trip is planning a road trip with stops. Although you could conceivably make spur of the moment, spontaneous stops during your trip, these can sometimes cut severely into your driving time, or even lead to you getting lost. In order to make sure that your road trip goes off without a hitch, it’s best that you do some real planning ahead of time. With that in mind, let’s look into how you should dive into planning a road trip with stops.

1. Tie Up Loose Ends Beforehand

No matter why you are striking out on your road trip, you need to ensure that all important loose ends are tied up before you embark. Anything can happen on your road trip, and you may not be able to return in time for appointments or responsibilities if you get diverted. Delays can occur, and in some ways they’re more likely to occur when you’re traveling a long distance by yourself (think of how easy it is to get stuck in traffic for hours!). Make sure that all of your important appointments take place before your road trip begins. For example, if you have a stem cell therapy appointment that needs to be taken care of, make sure that you attend that appointment before you begin your road trip.

Similarly, ensure that your workplace (if you’re returning home to your job after your trip) is aware that you are going on a road trip. It’s harder to be reachable during a work emergency when you’re the one driving. Tell them that you’re planning a road trip with stops, and make sure that your work is done and your coworkers are aware of your reachability, however much that is. Have a coworker designated to take over your work while you’re gone. The more you prepare them for your absence, the less likely you’ll be to get a call with questions while you’re on the road. You need to be able to focus on your trip, and this is the best way of ensuring that you can.

2. Have Your Household Prepared

Again, assuming that you are returning back home after your road trip, you should make some preparations for how your home will function while you’re away. If you’re leaving family behind, or have a house sitter, this will be a bit easier. People will be able to take care of your house for you. But if you’re traveling for a shorter period of time and live alone, it may not be worth it for you to take some preventative measures in advance. For example, you should have your heating and air conditioning services shut off while you are gone. This will cut down on the amount that you would spend on electricity. The only reason why you should maintain those services is if the weather is going to be particularly hot or cold, and you are leaving pets behind in your home.

Pets in particular need to be addressed as you’re planning a road trip with stops. If you have a pet sitter visit your home on a regular basis, you can keep them where they are without issues. But if you’d rather have your animals boarded (which is advisable if you plan on being away for an extended period of time) you’ll want to make sure that your house is in good condition when you leave it. Nobody will be there to notice issues arising while you’re gone. If you need a garage door repair service handled, ensure that it’s taken care of before you leave. Taking these steps will allow you to travel with peace of mind.

3. Make An Itemized List

You need to have an idea of what you’re bringing with you well before you begin planning a road trip with stops. There’s no point in going on the trip if you don’t have what you need with you. Make an itemized list that you can check off as your prepare; this will make your planning process much less stressful. A lot of this will depend on the type of trip you want to take. If you’re planning on traveling to a place that has a lake, and you own a boat, you might benefit from taking your boat with you. But you can’t simply take your boat with you and not prepare for what comes with that. You’ll need to be aware of boat storage facilities in the places that you stop.

There are more basic concerns to prioritize as well. As you travel, you may want to cut down on costs by packing your own lunches and snacks. Bring these along with you in your car in a safe and secure place. Think about investing in a cooler as well to keep them fresh. During that time, you should also put aside anything valuable that you’re traveling with. Ideally, you shouldn’t take anything overly valuable with you as you travel. But if you must, make sure that they are put away in locked boxes. You wouldn’t want your sterling silver dangle earrings to be stolen while you visit the sites! Keep in mind that no matter how carefully you tend to planning a road trip with stops, anything can happen. No place that you park your car is truly secure, unless it’s in a locked garage. So don’t leave anything that could be valuable in your car for an extended period of time.

4. Have Your Car Inspected

The point of planning a road trip with stops is that you’ll be cutting down on the amount of time you would have spent in the air, and spending much more time in a car. This isn’t an inherently bad thing. But the reality is that not all cars are made for road trips. Some older, more out of shape vehicles that are perfectly acceptable for regular commuting are much more difficult to take on long distance trips. The last thing you want during your road trip is your car breaking down. While, again, anything can happen, you can get a good idea of whether your car is ready for a road trip by having it inspected prior to your trip. You don’t need to have an official inspection conducted if you’re within the time limitations of your last inspection. But nonetheless, you might be better off moving forward with an early inspection if you have any doubts about the functionality of your car.

One thing that you should keep in mind while planning a road trip with stops is that you have to factor in the cost of gas. While you may very well be saving a lot of money on airfare, if your car isn’t efficient in terms of gas, you may end up spending more on a long road trip than you expected. If you have multiple cars available, it may be time for you to choose the more practical car over the gas guzzling, flashier vehicle. Your AC Cobra kit car cost may have seemed minimal at the time that you bought it. But will your Cobra be the right car to take on a long road trip? Perhaps not.

5. Select Your Stops and Organize Your Excursions

Needless to say, one of the most important aspects of planning a road trip with stops is planning your excursions. Planning your excursions for a road trip is a bit more complex, as you’ll essentially be re-routing yourself somewhat whenever you go off of the straightforward path. Depending on the trip that you’re taking, you may be going fifteen minutes off your original path; or you could be driving as far as half an hour to your stop in order to reach it.

Either way, you should have these stops marked on your map, and you should have targeted times at which you want to visit them. It may become a bit easier to do this if you book tickets ahead of time to the excursions that apply. Furthermore, you should think about timed tickets if possible. If these would add unnecessary stress to your trip, skip them. But if you think that they would help you stick to a schedule, consider taking this additional step when planning a road trip with stops. Yes, you’ll need to make sure that practicalities are handled ahead of time at home, making sure that you have sewer camera repair services or drain cleaning services taken care of before you go. But once that’s done, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

6. Plan Your Meals

How much do you want to spend on food? Are there any special restaurants that you want to stop at? These are the types of questions that you should ask yourself when planning a road trip with stops. In some cases, restaurants may be among the stops you plan. If the restaurant is in high demand, you should certainly make reservations head of time.

But if food isn’t particularly special to you, it could be an opportunity to save money. As previously mentioned, you can save time and money by storing snacks and meals in your car. But you could also get fairly cheap, quick meals simply by going through a drive through. You could plan these meals for the times that you stop for gas or an excursion, so that you don’t make any unnecessary stops along the way. While planning a road trip with stops, you should focus on what is worth seeing, and what isn’t.

7. Book Your Accommodations

The last thing you want is to go on a road trip without your hotels booked. Some treat planning a road trip with stops as a grand adventure, during which they won’t sleep and will take few breaks, even sleeping in their car rather than staying in a hotel. Not only is this illegal in many cases; it’s also simply dangerous. You could put yourself at risk of falling asleep at the wheel, or being harmed while you sleep in your car. This is why many risk reduction classes counsel against driving for too long without accommodations.

You don’t have to spend a lot on hotels. Look up reviews on sites like TripAdvisor to find hotels that are cost-efficient and comfortable. You can certainly find budget accommodations that are safe and easy to stay within. They may not all have the water conditioning systems that you’d expect at home, but they’re well worth the stop

8. Keep In Touch

When planning a road trip with stops on your own, it can be easy to focus on the fun parts of the trip. But you need to make sure that your trip is as safe as possible. Give a friend or relative your detailed itinerary, so that they have an idea of where you should be and when; and stick to that itinerary.

Additionally, you may want to give them access to your GPS tracking in your phone. This way, they can literally know where you are at all times.

While planning a road trip with stops can be stressful, ultimately it’s highly reward. Just plan ahead and enjoy the trip!

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