The perfect road trip is a free and easy experience that quenches your thirst for adventure as you drink in the sights and sounds of new environments. Whether you're planning on a weekend foray to a neighboring state or intending on spending weeks on the road, a little planning of the right kind ensures smooth sailing. Following are six strategies designed to keep the stress out of your road trip and let the fun shine in.
Map Out Your Route and Estimate Costs
Knowing where you're going and where you'll be staying once you arrive may not be quite as exciting as free ranging your road trip, but it won't be as expensive, either. Use a road trip budget calculator to estimate the cost of campsites, activities, motel or hotel accommodations, gas, and food.
Invest in a Roadside Assistance Program
Even if your mechanic has deemed your car in tiptop shape for your upcoming adventure, investing in a roadside assistance program may be a wise idea, particularly if your travels are going to be taking you a long way from home,
Grocery Shop at Home
If your trip involves camping out in National and State Parks or other wilderness areas, you'll be bringing most of your own food. Grocery shopping options in these areas tend to be limited as well as expensive. Even if you'll be traveling through towns and cities, you won't know where the stores with the best bargains are, and driving around looking for good places to shop eats up valuable gas. Bringing your own food means that you'll only have to worry about procuring perishables, so look for farm stands offering fresh, healthy fare to fill that gap.
Have Your Vehicle Inspected Prior to Hitting the Road
Circumvent costly and stressful vehicle malfunctions and breakdowns by having your car thoroughly inspected prior to hitting the open road. Repair costs seem to rise proportionately the farther you get from home, and unless you're a crack mechanic or have one with you, you'll be stuck paying the costs in order to be able to move on. Asking your mechanic to ensure that tires are properly inflated will result in a smoother ride as well as save you money on gas. Ask your mechanic for a copy of your vehicle's service record on the off chance that you experience difficulties on the road. This helps mechanics who are unfamiliar with your vehicle provide better service.
Shop Vehicle Insurance Plans
If you've had the same car insurance carrier for years, you're probably in a routine where you simply pay the bill each month and don't give the situation much thought. However, you may be eligible for discounts that you aren't aware of. Ask your agent if you qualify for reduced rates, and if not, don't be afraid to shop around for other plans and compare cheap car insurance quotes. Many insurance companies give discounts to non-smokers, while others may offer savings to those who complete voluntary drivers safety courses. Also, keep in mind that if your current insurance company realizes that you may be taking your business elsewhere, they may come through with a reduced rate offer after all.
Leave Room in Your Budget for the Unexpected
The best road trips involve at least some element of the unexpected, so be sure to leave room in your budget for surprises. This ensures that the stories you tell about your trip later on invoke happy memories instead of causing you to feel stressed because of bad memories. For instance, not having to dip into your fun money to get that flat tire fixed makes the whole thing seem more of an adventure than a hardship.
You'll probably also find that being properly prepared provides the feeling of confidence necessary for an exciting road adventure. Don't let stress get the best of you -- prepare, relax, and go forth into the fun.