One of the biggest, if not the single biggest, appeals of the road trip is the idea of getting out there, exploring, and having a truly organic trip not restrained by usual confines of the vacation. However, set off without any kind of plan, and you can find yourself getting turned around or, worse yet, seeing absolutely nothing of interest on your trips. Here, we’re going to look at striking the balance of putting a plan down while still enjoying the freedom of the road.
Pick your essential stops
First of all, start with the must-do stops of the road trip. We’re talking about the places to sleep, the places to eat, and most important of all, the places to refuel. You can sleep and eat in the car with enough planning, but you can’t improvise some gas. Road trip planning apps can help you see all the options near you and pin them on a map so that, no matter where you roam, you know how close you are to your next essential stop.
But feel free to explore
So long as you have those key points plotted on the map and you’re always aware of how far away you are from a stop and whether or not you can get there with the gas in your tank, get creative with your plans. Research some of the most interesting sights and stops near you and start plotting them on the map. Leave it so that if you have more time than expected or you’re feeling like the road’s getting boring, you can take the occasional detour.
Know the road ahead
If you head out onto the road, especially on major roads or near city stops, without a plan, then you can expect the unexpected. Road works, traffic jams, collisions, all of them can slow your pace down to a slog. It’s always wise to have an app or website that allows you to check driving conditions for the area and to see what kind of state the road you’re on and the one you’re heading to is in. It’s better to identify and avoid a problem route ahead of time rather than to try to craft a solution when you hit it.
Make sure everyone’s involved
Lastly, when you’re putting stops together, especially when travelling with friends or family, consider at least one destination for everyone involved. If you can get a natural consensus on all the stops, then that’s perfect. In most cases, however, people are going to be split in at least some of what they can see. Any stop is going to be a lot better with friends, but if everyone is at least involved in the process of deciding where to go and what to see, it will be a lot more satisfying for everyone involved.
Make room for detours, impromptu stops, and the occasional night under the stars during your road trip. But make sure you’ve got a few key destinations planned and that the road ahead is going to be smooth riding. That’s your best bet of having an excellent roam along the road.