Road tripping is one of my favorite things in the entire world. I love doing the driving and the riding. (But if I’m riding, I’ll have my nose in a book, not out the window. Call me crazy but I love to read in the car.)
What I love about road trips is that there is so much you can explore by car. You don’t have to have a big budget to plan the perfect road trip. And technically you don’t even need more than an hour or two to plan one when you’re feeling spontaneous. You can travel by car for months at a time or just a weekend. It comes down to this: There are lots of ways to take a road trip. Here are my tied-and-true steps to road trip planning. // susannah
Decide where to go.
If there’s nowhere nearby you’ve been dying to check out, get out the map, close your eyes and pick a spot. Just kidding. (But not really.) You could go toward a city, a small town, the beach, the lake or the mountains. Maybe all five! Or maybe it’s a side trip of another vacation. Check out the Hidden Gems series, which is written by real bloggers about their own cities, to see Feast + West‘s top road trip picks.
Make a budget.
Knowing what you can spend will help you figure out what you can do and how long you can stay. Estimate the mileage and gas expenses, lodging and food costs. Decide where you’ll stay — it could be camping or a hotel, an Airbnb.
Get your vehicle checked out.
There’s nothing worse than traveling with a potential flat tire. That’s an accident waiting to happen. Take your car in to your local shop and get them to look it over before you add major miles to the odometer.
And don’t forget to fill the tank! (Trust me on this. I have a ran-out-of-gas horror story that my best friend would rather I didn’t share with you, I’m sure.) GasBuddy is a free iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry app you can use to find cheap gas along the way, too.
Plan your itinerary.
If you don’t like to go with the flow as far as things to do and food to eat, plan ahead. Roadtrippers, free on iOS and Android, helps you discover interesting places along your route. Foursquare and Yelp are also great for finding restaurant and attraction recommendations from other users .
Make a packing list.
Even though you could always pick up something on the way, it’s better if you try to plan ahead. I’ve got the ultimate packing list just for you, too. Once packed, double and triple check that you’ve got everything you need. And don’t forget the snacks! Or the Mad Libs.
This isn’t planning, I know. But always leave yourself a little wiggle room to stop and take an Instagram, visit the teacup museum you stumbled across or eat at the diner with the prettiest neon sign. The spontaneous memories are always the greatest ones from my road trips.
How do you plan the perfect road trip?
P.S. Wouldn’t you just love to go on a road trip in that star-studded bug? Me too, man. Me freakin’ too.