How To Plan A Road Trip in 2021
Now that the country is starting to open back up, you may be thinking about taking a much-needed trip to someplace new. Maybe you want to pick up a car at one of our locations and drive it to another somewhere else.
Whether you’re planning on going across the country or somewhere closer within your own state, we’ve got the go-to guide to get you started on the right foot before you’ve even pulled out of the driveway.
In this guide, we will cover things from actually planning your route to ensuring that you have a budget in place for your journey.
Planning Your Road Trip Route
Any worthwhile plan starts as an idea. That idea then turns into something even more significant than you originally intended. If you’re reading this guide, you probably have a rough idea of where you want to go and what you would like to see.
If you don’t have any ideas yet of where you would want to travel, we would suggest exploring different social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram to get inspired. For example, on Instagram, you can search different hashtags intriguing to you, such as #Roadtrip or #USroadtrip, to find similar posts about the topic. Another great option is to read through our travel guides that describe fun things to do in cities around the country.
Once you’ve got your destination in mind, an excellent tool to help you plan your route is Google Maps. It’s user-friendly, and after selecting your starting point and destination, it allows you to add stops along your trip. If you don’t know where you would want to stop along your way, a good place to start is to look at the major cities between destinations. They usually have a lot to offer, from sites to see to places to stay for the night.
The added stop feature factors in the time that each stop will add to your overall trip. But it is a good general rule to add 25-30% extra time to consider food breaks and traffic.
As with anything, the hardest part of getting something done is usually just starting, whatever the project is. So sit down to do this first step. Then, of course, after seeing all the fun things that the road has to offer, you’ll want to keep going through the planning process.
We offer some of the best prices when it comes to renting a vehicle for your next road trip, but after seeing how much you will be saving, you’ve got to decide how to spend the rest of your money on the trip.
There are a few different things to factor in when creating a budget for your epic road trip. So open up a spreadsheet and get ready to crunch the numbers.
Food and Drinks
When it comes to food and drinks, it can be easy to lose track of how much you are spending a day. Even when we go to the grocery store, we typically spend more than we intended before walking through those automatic doors.
A good way to stay on track is to decide beforehand the exact amount of money you want to spend on eating out and then, when possible, make your own meals. Even if you don’t stick to the set number exactly, having a goal will help you not go extremely overboard.
Although gas prices are rising again, don’t let this keep you from going out and having an unforgettable experience with friends and family on the road.
A good way to make sure that you will afford the cost of gas for your trip is to use a government-provided tool, the Trip Calculator. All you have to do is enter your starting and ending point, your model of car, and then it will give you the estimated trip fuel cost.
Depending on what part of the country you are traveling to, there could be more or fewer tolls along your route. Google Maps offers the options when creating your route to avoid tolls altogether if that is something you do not want to have to pay for.
While you can avoid tolls, something you can’t avoid is needing to take a break from driving to get some shut-eye. One way to save on the cost of a place to stay is to plan to camp out at places instead of staying in hotels. If you’re not all about the outdoors and like to have modern conveniences like WiFi and a plush bed, then try to book your hotels in advance. This can sometimes get you savings while also giving you a firm number to put down your budget.
If you’re traveling through and stopping in the inner-city, then plan on paying to park. Another good idea is to see the parking situation at the different hotels and camping grounds you plan to stay at.
The Fun Stuff
Since you have your route planned out by this point, you can go and look along it to find the different activities and entertainment spots along the way to make your trip even more memorable. Plan in advance where you want to stop, what you want to see, and what you’re willing to pay for. Don’t forget to add a little buffer in the budget if you come across something you didn’t account for but can’t pass.
You’ve probably heard the advice to have an emergency fund apart from your savings account to be able to pay for necessities should something happen to your main income. When it comes to taking a road trip, you should be in a similar mindset.
If you were to have a tire blowout on the highway, it could cost anywhere between $100 to $1000, depending on your vehicle. So keep this in mind and set aside a certain amount for emergency maintenance or repairs.
What to Pack in the Car
After you’ve decided what clothes and accessories you’re going to bring along for the trip to wear while you’re out and about seeing all the different sites, don’t forget to plan for things you’ll be needing inside the car.
This can be a huge lifesaver. A dashcam can’t lie and could keep you from being held liable in an accident that wasn’t your fault. While this can be a larger expense, it could save you a lot of money in the long run.
Your phone will be one of the most important tools on your road trip. You can’t risk it dying while you’re in an unfamiliar area. Get yourself a car phone charger to make sure you’re never without navigation or a way to contact emergency services should something unforeseen happen.
While driving down the highway, you don’t want to constantly have to be reaching for your phone to change the music or see what’s coming up next on the navigation. Not only is it annoying, but it also isn’t safe. Having a phone mount can help you see all the information you need at a simple glance.
These may seem obvious, but it’s a good idea to write these things down on your list to make sure you don’t forget them! It’s imperative always to have a spare key if it’s available, your insurance and registration, and of course, your driver’s license. Being caught without one of these can put a damper on your road trip in a heartbeat. Now let’s look at the last thing to do before you head out on your quest.
Check up on Your Vehicle
You’ve planned out your route, made a budget for all the fun things you’re going to do, and written a list of all the essentials you need to pack. The last thing you need to do before you hit the road is to make sure your car is up to the task.
Make sure that all of your lights and blinkers are functioning properly. Check your oil and tire pressure to make sure you won’t have any unexpected problems on the way. Another thing to look for is to guarantee you’ve got your spare tire and the tools necessary to change a tire should you need to.
Whether you’re planning on taking one of our great vehicle options across parts of the country or are taking your own vehicle, you hopefully know more now about what makes a successful road trip.
We’ve looked at how to plan the route of your trip, how to be mindful of your spending and make a budget so you can see all of your costs at a glance, what essentials are needed in your car to make it from point A to B without a hitch, and finally, what to check on your vehicle before you hit the road.