6 Tips for Planning the Ultimate Road Trip


Thousands of families eagerly look forward to summer and planning a road trip. From those who can’t wait to reach their destination to those who believe the journey is the destination and everyone in between, there are certain steps that can be taken to make the trip easier. If you’ve never gone on a road trip, or if you have and they’ve gone less than spectacularly, these tips will help you have the ultimate road trip this year.

Know Yourself and Your Family

If you know one of your children gets carsick or that your children always fall immediately to sleep in the car than plan accordingly. Some people throw this out the window and simply say they’ll battle through whichever issues come up however, making adjustments can help make the trip just as enjoyable as the final outcome.

Map it Out

In the day and age of GPS it’s easy to completely leave off this step. But, sit down ahead of your trip and look at the route you will take. Also look at alternate routes and what types of things you can find along the way. For trips that will have you in the car multiple days look at a few places you might be able to stop each night, just in case.

Use Technology

Even though a paper map is a vital tool to have on a road trip technology also has a role to play. There are dozens of apps that can help you. Roadtrippers is a great tool. You input the start and end locations as well as the dates and it maps out a route, including what to do and see along the way. If you’ll be in a specific city you can also just type in the name and it will populate the things to do nearby.  It’s also worth downloading your favorite hotel booking app. Many times they offer discounts when you book via mobile and there also can be extra discounts on the hotel for last minute booking. Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, and Hotels.com all have apps that provide this option.

Plan Ahead When Possible

Not all travelers are comfortable with last minute plans and in peak seasons that’s a good thing. If you will be camping or if there are certain things you’d like to do and see, make your reservations as soon as possible ahead of time. You will save money however you won’t have the flexibility of planning on the go.

Feeding the Family

One of the biggest travel costs families experience is food. To decrease your food bill do some meal planning before you go. You can pack snacks for the car, and even picnic meals while you’re traveling. When you reach your destination, choose a hotel or rent an apartment that has a kitchen or cooking facilities. Plan and prepare simple meals at home to cut down on your bill dining out. While one meal in a restaurant can easily cost $50 or more, you can likely feed your family for $100 or less for a week by choosing other ways to eat.

Make Yourself Comfortable

You’ll be spending a lot of time in your car so don’t neglect it! Be sure to have blankets and pillows so everyone can relax while on the road. Consider buying some organizational seat back hangers so that everything can be put into place and you aren’t left digging through a bag in the trunk to find the hand wipes or CD’s. Bring plenty of activities to keep everyone busy. A variety of CD’s and audiobooks will help everyone – including the driver – relax and enjoy their time. When you stop take a few minutes to clean out the garbage and pick up the car so you don’t end up with a mess at your final destination. One other quick hint – avoid tie shoes for time in the car. Slip on shoes are easy to take on and off and this simple trick will make things easier for everyone.

I would love to hear if you have any tips to add!

Happy travels!


  1. I encourage my daughter to take her own pictures- either with the tablet or her own little camera. That way she gets in the game. Sometimes I make up a scavenger hunt list and see if she can take photos of everything on it.

  2. hmrcarlson says

    With small children, frequent stops are helpful just to stretch legs and break the trip up a little. Maybe look online ahead of time for some fun places along the way like a potato chip factory or a train museum that you could incorporate into your trip.

  3. Judy Cowan says

    All great tips! We love going on road trips and use many of the trips when planning.

  4. nicolthepickle says

    These are good tips. My kids love audiobooks so to take them on a trip would be nice for tired times.

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