According to a New York Times article, the Great American Road Trip is more popular than ever, although these trips tend to be shorter than in the past. Even those who only have a few days for a trip, are driving hundreds of miles to explore new places. About 22 percent of all vacations taken by Americans in 2015 were road trips, but that number jumped to 39 percent in 2016. The majority of all American vacations happen right here in the United States (85 percent), and while road trip “nostalgia” may play a part in the increase in American road trips, practicality also plays a part.
People generally take road trips because they are financially more feasible, offer flexibility as far as being able to stop along the way, and the family can bring along whatever—and whomever—they wish. Airplane trips have become more expensive, plus security issues, hefty baggage fees and more time spent waiting have discouraged many from flying, making a road trip that much more appealing. So, before you head off on your road trip, consider the following tips for keeping your trip right on track.
- Prepare in advance for your trip. While you want to leave some free, unstructured time, having a basic plan can ensure your road trip goes as smoothly as possible. Planning interesting stops which coordinate with rest/food/bathroom breaks can make your trip much more fun.
- Prepare your vehicle for the trip. There are few things worse than having your car break down in the middle of a road trip. You are in an unfamiliar place—usually in a tiny town where you are likely to get gouged by the only mechanic around—and just want to get back on the road. Have your car thoroughly checked out before you leave, including the tires, and if you do not already have AAA or another roadside service, consider signing up for one before you leave. Clean your car before you leave as well as during the trip to avoid coming home to a totally trashed-out vehicle.
- Make sure you have your route planned out and that you are familiar with how to get where you are going. While GPS navigation systems are nice, you do not want to be trying to program in a destination while flying down an unfamiliar roadway. Step up your driving safety skills and drive defensively to avoid an accident—which could put a serious crimp in your road trip. Do your best to avoid rush hour traffic in big cities, which can take much of the fun out of your road trip.
- If you have children, plan accordingly. To avoid an endless stream of “Are we there yet?” make sure you bring along plenty of activities to occupy the children, appropriate to their ages. Consider bringing portable games—assuming that will not result in arguments in the back seat—as well as portable video players, books, water, snacks and toys.
- Relax and enjoy your road trip. Many people are so focused on their destination, they forget to enjoy getting there. There are lots of things to see and do in the United States—take time to really see those things along the way, and you will end up with memories you might never otherwise have made.
Bio: Rachel is a freelance content writer located in San Diego, California. She has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles and is currently writing for The Levy Law Offices. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga.