Planning the Ultimate Road Trip: Road Trip Essentials from the Experts

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Planning the Ultimate Road Trip

Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of a road trip. From the Great US Road Trip to shorter Australian road trips, I’ve got something of an enduring obsession with the open road and the off the beaten track adventures you’ll find along the way.

If you’re planning on going on the ultimate road trip, whether alone or with friends, you’re going to need a few tips from the experts to ensure you have the best time imaginable. Although in an ideal world you’d be able to jump into your car/campervan and go, you do need to think of a few things first.

european road trip

Mapping & Navigation

Downloading Google Maps could help to get you out of sticky situation, whether you need food in the middle of nowhere or you’re trying to get a basic route worked out. It can help you in terms of where to go next, but also allow you to stay flexible if you want to go off on a little detour and explore.

If you’re worried about using up all of your data or battery life, consider downloading an offline mapping program such as maps.me. This handy little app lets you download the maps of a country so you can navigate even while offline.

Lastly, when it comes to planning a road trip, check out sites like Furkot to help you with finding accommodation, choosing the ideal route, and occupying yourself along the way.

road trip pacific coast highway

Your Vehicle

The kind of vehicle you choose will depend on the destination you’re visiting.

How many people will be going with you? You may need a simple car, or something more durable, like a caravan or campervan. An RV is going to save you a lot of money when it comes to accommodation during your trip, so consider an RV rental to better manage your budget.

Make sure you sort this out far in advance, get the mileage right, and research the best insurance. Make sure everything is in order before you set off too – don’t just trust that the place you’re hiring the vehicle from has it in the best condition.

Looking for caravan, campervan, and motorhome service and repairs, while you’re on the road will take a lot of time, but maybe necessary if you don’t double-check. If you already have your vehicle, make sure you do all of the necessary checks yourself. It may be worth dropping into a garage before the big day to be sure.

Entertainment

You can’t do many things while you drive, but you can listen to your favourite music and sing at the top of your lungs. Create playlists for the journey, or take some of your favourite CDs.

Spotify is great for this, as it can also create playlists on the fly based on your tastes and listening history. If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you can even download your favourite playlists for offline listening.

Of course, there are plenty of road trip games you can play with your road trip companions to help pass the time as well.

Lastly, podcasts can be a great way to occupy the time while the miles roll by. Some of my favourites are Lore, My Dad Wrote a Porno, Hardcore History, Nerdist, Critical Role, and the Steve Austin Show.

wayne's world bohemian rhapsody
Legally speaking, it’s not a road trip until you’ve rocked out to Bohemian Rhapsody.

Look On Helpful Forums

Helpful forums, such as Roadtrippers, can be a great way to get all of the info you need on accommodation, sights, and more. You’ll never be stuck for where to go next!

Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor both have plenty of information, and it might also be worth checking out the reddit for the destination you’re heading to.

Finding The Right Person To Travel With

If you really don’t want to road trip alone, you need to make sure you find the right person to travel with. Ideally, they will have the same interests as you, because clashes are common when one wants to go sightseeing and the other wants to go drinking!

I’ve written at length in the past about how to be a good road trip companion, and I think finding somebody who fits that description can go a long way towards a fun road trip.

couple in tractor

Try Camping

If you do have a camper or caravan, it only makes sense to camp and save money on hotels. It’s also a brilliant way to meet people.

Bear in mind you can even camp in your car!

Avoid The Freeway

Why would you want to go on the freeway, when there’s so much you can miss? Take a road less travelled instead. Road trips are for going on detours, not for trying to get to places as quickly as possible.

Plus, what you save in time, you usually end up paying in tolls.

Anticipate Problems

Ensure you go on your trip prepared for every eventuality. You should have an emergency kit, numbers saved in your phone, a charger, water, and non perishable snacks. Don’t just assume that nothing will happen to you!  

I’ve written in the past about the various road trip essentials that you don’t want to be without.


More than anything, a good road trip is about seeing the places you’d usually skip on a plane or train, interacting with the locals, and learning more about the culture you’re exploring in the process.

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