Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Road Trip Checklist

Sunrise and the open road. Does it get any better than this?
Checklist For a Road Trip - Get Ready to Hit the Road!
By Tara Waechter

Now that the spring is well underway in the northern hemisphere, and summer is just around the corner, it is time to start thinking about making the ultimate road trip. In this blog post, Tara Waechter provides some great tips to get the planning process started. Tara has also previously written about her Five Golden Rules of road tripping on this blog, and her Road Trip Planning Commandments so make sure you read that entry as well.

This checklist for a road trip will make sure that nothing important has been forgotten when you're finally ready to jump in your car or RV and go. Most people think about what they need to pack, but there's so much more you need to do when preparing for a road trip.

The items on this checklist for a road trip have been placed in the order that they need to be attended to - so don't jump ahead!
  1. Select your road trip companions first - if you're going with your family or significant other, you can jump ahead to step 2. If you're selecting friends to take on your road trip, make sure you're truly compatible. That person that's fun to hang out with in a bar or go out with for the occasional coffee may not be someone you can handle on a 24-hour basis. Add all that time together to the close proximity you'll share during the ride, and tensions may mount. How do you know that they're the right person to bring? You want someone who generally shares your interests and attitudes, who is as much like you as possible or is complimentary, and someone who rarely (if ever) ticks you off. Watch out for any annoying habits or personal grooming issues - they will really get to you on a road trip.
  2. The next item on this checklist for a road trip is to select a destination that the entire group is excited about. It's not good enough for just one person or half of your group to be enthusiastic about where you're going. A road trip is often a week or more, and part of what keeps you going every day is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: your destination. You don't want some people in your group thinking that pot of gold is really just a pot of cheap gold-painted plastic coins.
  3. Map your road trip so that your route to your destination and your return route are different. This will make both journeys more interesting and give you more opportunities to see interesting sights, stay at different hotels, and eat at different restaurants - jazzing up your road trip considerably. Plan your route to hit sights, towns, cities, and various attractions along the way. A road trip is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. If you don't care about the journey, take a plane!
  4. Make your hotel/motel or campground reservations and print out all reservation information to have on hand in case there is a mix-up. Doing this has saved me many times when mistakes were made on the hotel's end - sometimes I even got an upgrade and some complimentary wine or a fruit basket for my troubles! If I hadn't had the printed reservation, I would have had to find other accommodations (and when you're in a popular area - that can often mean no accommodations).
  5. Pack your maps, any printed directions, and any reservation confirmations in a waterproof zippered bag that you'll keep in the car for reference. The waterproof and zipper part will come in very handy when you accidentally spill that soda or there's a downpour of rain when you're carrying it to and from the car.
  6. Get your car checked out and have any necessary maintenance work done. I recommend getting an oil change unless you just got one - better safe than sorry. Check the condition of your tires and replace them if they're worn. If you don't have AAA, consider getting it for not only the benefit of roadside assistance, but also the discounts most hotels offer to AAA members.
  7. Get both a roadside emergency kit and a first aid kit and put them in your trunk. Make sure the spare tire is in good shape.
  8. Arrange for your pets and plants - either boarding the pets or having someone stop in at your home to take care of everything. Have all mail and newspapers held or have a friend or neighbor take them in daily.
  9. Even if you don't have plants or pets, ask a friendly neighbor to keep an eye on your home. Let them know the exact length of your trip and also let them know that if they see a moving van in front of your house, call the police! I've heard too many stories of neighbors seeing a moving truck or van and thinking that it had something to do with the trip their neighbors were taking.
  10. Get an extra refill of any prescriptions if possible - it's good to have more than you need in case your trip runs longer for some unforeseen reason.
  11. Check with your cell-phone provider to make sure you'll have coverage where you're going and what the roaming fees are. You might want to check if your traveling companions have different calling plans and see if they are complimentary (they have coverage where you don't and vice-versa).
  12. Get or rent a roof-top cargo carrier if your car is too small for all of your stuff.
Now that you've completed everything on this checklist for a road trip, you're ready to get packing!

Tara Waechter owns http://www.planning-fun-road-trips.com - a website that covers every aspect of road trip planning including mapping tips, packing lists, road trip games and songs, trip ideas, recipes, tools, and in-depth articles. Tools offered include a road trip budget calculator and a printable checklist of to-do's to handle before you depart on your trip. Tara has traveled extensively in the United States as well as abroad, and has learned the knowledge she passes on in her website through the "School of Hard Knocks". She is also an office manager and meeting and event planner. She resides in Cary, North Carolina with her husband, Ash. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tara_Waechter

Below you will find a selection of great books to help you plan your ultimate road trip.

2 comments:

  1. Great List! While it can't help with everything, http://www.myscenicdrives.com/ is a fantastic resource for #2, #3, and #4, making it easy to find scenic routes, downloading those routes to your GPS and finding affordable Hotels.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Eric, I checked My Scenic Drives and love the concept. I wish I'd known about it when I drove from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon National Park last September. The Grand Canyon Loop (AZ) on the site has a lot of information I could have used at the time. Next time I'll know where to look before I head out.

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