Travel trends come and go. But if you look back at the past 50-plus years of American travel, you’ll see that one type of vacation continues to lead the way. We’re talking about the road trip, of course!
Road Trips: More Popular Than Ever
Each year, travel and tourism marketing agency MMGY releases the data from its research studies on where, how, and when Americans are traveling. And no matter the year, road trips reign supreme.
“Since 2015, the MMGY Portrait of American Travelers study has tracked a 64% increase in road trip travel,” Allstar Coaches mentions. “51% of all travelers took at least one road trip in 2018, up five points from the previous year, and 60% of travelers said they were likely to take a road trip this year. 62% of millennials intend to make one or more road trips in the next 12 months.”
Despite the increase in travel options – and the cost-effective nature of air travel – road trips are more popular than ever. So why not plan your own trip?
How to Plan the Perfect Road Trip
Theoretically, all you need is a car, some friends, and a tank full of gas to set out on a road trip. But if you want your trip to be fun, memorable, and cost-effective, you’ll want to plan ahead. Here are a few suggestions:
Set a Budget
Never plan a road trip – or any trip for that matter – without first setting a budget of how much you’re willing and able to spend. Here are some suggestions:
- Set a daily budget and a total trip budget. This prevents you from getting to the last couple days of your trip and not having any money to spend.
- Try buying a prepaid Visa gift card and loading it with the amount of money you plan to spend on the trip. Not only does this keep your spending organized, but it also ensures you don’t go over.
- If you’re splitting costs with your travel mates, keep a meticulous log of all expenses. You might even want to square up after every purchase. Venmo is the perfect tool for this.
Nobody wants a road trip to be defined by money. Start planning weeks in advance so that you can focus on the fun parts of the trip.
Service Your Car Before Leaving
Having your car fail you on your commute home from work is inconvenient, but it’s not the end of the world. Having your vehicle fail you on a desolate back road 2,000 miles from home is frustrating and possibly even dangerous. That’s why you should always service your vehicle before leaving.
It’s best if you take your vehicle into an auto shop to get a full inspection. If you can’t do that, at least give your car a visual inspection. This includes fluids, tires, and brakes. It’s also smart to inspect belts and hoses under the hood.
“Give the belts a squeeze to make sure they’re tight–there should be very little slack. Also look to see if there’s any visible cracking, fraying, or missing teeth in the belts, which indicate it needs to be replaced,” Popular Mechanics suggests. “Check the hoses to see if there’s any fluid leaking, especially near joining points. Having a hose fail in the middle of a drive can spell disaster for an engine.”
If you notice any potential problems or issues, don’t ignore them. You’ll want to schedule an appointment with a mechanic as soon as possible.
Less is More
A road trip is not the time to pack up your entire closet. It’s a time to pack light – very light.
Rather than viewing a road trip as restrictive, see it as a freeing experience where you don’t have to deal with clutter. You’ll find great opportunity in the fact that you only have a few belongings. It’ll add to the experience – if you let it!
Patron Local Businesses
You can stay at a Best Western or eat at a Chili’s virtually anywhere in the entire country. When you’re on a road trip, make a conscious effort to patron local businesses, restaurants, motels, and establishments. Not only will you put money into the pockets of local citizens, but you’ll also get a better feel for what these cities are really like.
Hit the Road, Jack
What are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time to pile some friends into your car and have the experience of a lifetime. And if you take some these tips into account, you’re sure to have an amazing experience.