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How to Embark on a Road Trip

Updated on February 12, 2013

Road trip navigators need to be on their game

Driving towards Seattle
Driving towards Seattle | Source

Seattle's Capitol

Road trip to Seattle's capitol
Road trip to Seattle's capitol | Source

Road trip with a destination and time limit.

Okay, so you've decided to go on a road trip. Cu-dos to you! You'll have a lot of fun, but to ensure that you do have fun, you've got a lot of research to do. Not to take you away from any of that fun, but you don't want surprises when you've made the commitment to go somewhere.

For instance, if your destination is a theme park, it would be a great idea to find out if it will be open on the day(s) that you plan to be there. If it is, find out if all the attractions will be open that day - like any park, they do close certain sections for maintenance. Just make sure that the attraction that you're wanting most to go to is not closed at that time.

You should already know how long the trip will last, if you need to book a hotel, make sure you can do this ahead of time for the best price. This will always give you peace of mind when you get to a strange town where nothing is familiar. Also, make sure that you take a look at the reviews, pictures, amenities, and make sure that the hotel is a good fit for you and your family.

Deciding who will go is always important. It's always nice to let people know about an upcoming trip so that they won't commit themselves to an activity. For most, at least two weeks time is plenty, but for a trip that lasts longer than a day or two, more advanced time will be needed.

Rental cars are great for road trips

Make sure that you get a car that's comfortable for the group of people that you're traveling with.
Make sure that you get a car that's comfortable for the group of people that you're traveling with. | Source

Should I use my car or a rental for a roadtrip?

If your car is a few years old, or if you feel the trip would be too much for your own personal vehicle, then by all means opt for the rental car. Your vehicle is too important to risk putting under pressure for a long trip if you use it to drive to work. A break-down will add stress to your trip if you can't afford your car breaking down and being so far away.

Using a rental car releases you from the pressure of babying your car, and worrying about what will happen if your car breaks down - or worse, if you have an accident. Opt for the insurance for peace of mind, but check first if your credit card or your existing auto insurance will cover your rental.

Know what to expect when renting a car before the day that you need to pick it up. Most rentals like working with people who have credit cards. If you only have a debit card, they will charge you for a refundable amount before they give you the car - usually around $200. Make sure you have that amount in your debit account, and still have enough for the road trip.

Use your time wisely, if you've got a few days before your trip, take the time to find the best rate on a rental for the time you need. Find out if those rates have unlimited miles, and avoid the hidden fees - that cheap rate doesn't look so good after you find out there are weekend fees, mileage fees, etc.

Seattle near the Public Market Center

Seattle - any body tell you it rains there?
Seattle - any body tell you it rains there? | Source

Have snacks will travel

We packed spam musubi for our Seattle trip.
We packed spam musubi for our Seattle trip. | Source

What do I need to bring for a road trip?

Depending on who is coming with you, will dictate what you need to bring. If it's just the two of you, your task is an easy one. If the family with kids are coming, the list becomes complicated, but if it's just for a day, that's not too bad. If the planned trip includes spending a night, you'll have to pack as if you'll spend two nights.

Everyone on the trip needs something to do, and to share the burden of planning, give them a responsibility suitable for each individual on the trip. Picture Captain will take all the pictures on the road, the Potter will call potty call when everyone has to go, and others that can take the boredom out of the long hauls. Most important, you need a dependable navigator and driver that can stay up and not nod off after a few hours of driving. Having a GPS is great, to back it up, you still need a navigator that can read a map and make quick adjustments should there be a road closure, or a signal lost in the city.

Know what the climate is like at your destination, and be sure to dress accordingly. If you are traveling with kids, it's a good idea to let them know what to pack along. Teenagers are notorious for dressing a certain way that is 'cool' to them - let them know what to expect so that they are prepared ahead of time.

A cooler filled with non-sugary drinks, and enough snacks to tackle the little hunger pangs between meals. Don't forget the necessary electronics that will make time fly - especially if you have kids on the trip. DVD players, video games, and games on the road that everyone can take part in.

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The first Starbucks in Seattle

Standing room only at Starbuck's first location in Seattle WA
Standing room only at Starbuck's first location in Seattle WA | Source

Establish a game plan for your road trip.

While you're planning for your trip, it's a good idea to accomplish what your trip is actually for. If it's for fun, make sure that you've included enough element to have made it fun. If you want to make it a learning trip, make sure that you've planned for a historical stop. If you're doing this road trip to celebrate a person's birthday, make sure you've planned for the cake and ice cream. If you're doing a romantic-get-away make sure you plan it that way, and for heaven's sake leave the kids at home.

Most of all, make sure that everyone knows what you're trying to accomplish ahead of time. It's not fun being hot, sweaty and tired thinking you're headed to a hotel when someone announces that there is a two mile hike trail coming up. Again, make sure everyone knows what the game plan is before the trip, and remind them what's in store for their day the night before.


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    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 5 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Thanks Jenna. Peace. Kawi.

    • Jenna Estefan profile image

      Jenna Estefan 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I love road trips! Useful tips for when going on a road trips. Voted up!