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8 Tips to Make Your Road Trip the Best Ever

Is the open road calling your name?

Road trips with close friends or family can be unforgettable experiences. They provide a sense of adventure and challenge as you navigate the unfamiliar roads that weave across America. And with each mile, you gain something truly valuable — perspective.

OK, now that the sappy stuff is out of the way, let’s get down to business. How do you make your road trip a huge success? Here are some tried-and-true tips.

1. Don’t always take the highway

Some major highways have beautiful, scenic views that make for a pleasant drive. However, the majority of highways are much more mundane. Make sure you exit the highway once in a while and explore!

Secondary highways and back roads provide a much better representation of these new places. Sure, you’ll have more traffic lights and lower speed limits, but you didn’t take a road trip because you wanted to get somewhere quickly. (If that was your goal, you would’ve bought a plane ticket!) You wanted to see new people and places, and that won’t happen on most highways.

Make sure you have a map or a GPS before you take these “roads less traveled” so you don’t get lost. And if you’re using a GPS, make sure you have service and a battery charger before you start to wander.

2. Shop for groceries

Food is one road trip cost that can quickly get out of hand. Consistently eating fast food or at rest stops might not seem like a big deal in the moment, but it adds up in a hurry. Instead, stop at grocery stores along the way so you can prepare meals on your own, plus have snacks for the trip when a craving comes along. You could even bring a cooler along to store fresh fruits and vegetables so you’re not eating chips and crackers the whole time. After a few days of junk food, your body will be begging for something fresh to eat.

Now that doesn’t mean you have to prepare every meal. It’s still vacation! Most days, you could make breakfast and lunch on your own, and then treat yourself at dinnertime. Or, if you’re in an area that’s known for its food, you could splurge on local delicacies for one day and then cut back on eating out on the days when you’re on the road.

3. Get your car checked out before leaving

Take care of all car maintenance before you leave. Get your oil changed, top off all your fluids, check your brakes, and pump up your tires — including your spare.

The last place you want to get hit with car trouble is on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere.

4. Avoid rush-hour hot spots

Road trips without a plan can be liberating. But all it takes is getting stuck once in Washington, D.C. during rush-hour traffic and you’ll never do that again.

Plan your road trip routes to avoid getting caught in infamous rush-hour traffic hot spots. Only drive through these bottlenecks during off hours, or take alternative routes around the congestion.

5. Pack CDs and a map

Seriously. You never know when you’ll enter an area without cell phone service, and without that, your Spotify playlist and in-phone GPS aren’t much good.

Bring along a few CDs and a folding map as a back-up plan (or to limit your data usage). Folding maps also make it easier to get a big picture idea of where you are and where you’re headed.

6. Walk around new places

There’s no better way to explore than to get out of the car and walk around. So when you stop, give your legs a stretch. They surely could use it after all that driving, plus you may come across some really cool spots to check out.

Don’t be afraid to ask the locals where you should go — people everywhere enjoy showing off their local gems!

7. Chew gum while driving

It’s a road trip, so that means two things: lots of driving and little sleep. Mixed together, you’ve got a recipe for problems. Fortunately, studies have found that chewing gum helps increase focus while doing monotonous tasks. So pick up some packs of gum along the way to help you concentrate behind the wheel.

8. Take lots of pictures

Some moments might not seem picture-worthy at the time, but when in doubt, take the shot. In fact, take an obnoxious amount of pictures. That weird gas pump you saw in Iowa? Snap a pic. Your friend sleeping in the back seat? You bet. Years from now, pictures of even the most ordinary moments from your trip could put a smile on your face.

Also, this might be a good time to buy that nice camera you’ve been looking at to give your cell phone’s camera a break.

What to remember

Road trips can be both enlightening and liberating. And while these tips can help make the trip smoother and more enjoyable, there’s no “correct” way to take a road trip. All you really need is a list of places you want to stop, a car capable of making the long drive, a map or GPS, and a sense of adventure.

More information

Need help funding your next road trip? Opening a separate savings account for vacations like these is a great way to start. Click here to learn more about saving options, or call 1-877-360-2472.

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