A road trip can be a vacation packed with value, fun and adventure. Stopping when and where you want—even spontaneously—is a road trip’s greatest freedom. Add the ability to discover new places from the ground up, get a taste of what’s local and establish your own pace and you have the perfect year-round activity. If you’re planning a road trip and want to travel safely, securely and smartly, these nine tips can help you have a more successful road trip.
1. Earn While You Travel
Members of ALL – Accor Live Limitless can take advantage of the program’s partnership with Avis® to magnify the allure and appeal of a road trip. Members of ALL can earn 125 Reward points per day on a car rental for up to six days or 150 Reward points per day on rentals of seven days or more—plus other discounts—by using the ALL Accor Live Limitless/Avis Worldwide discount when booking a rental car. The benefits of joining ALL are many, including savings, points, perks and more. Sign up today to discover them all.
2. Stay in Tune
A great road trip deserves a great playlist. Have everyone download their favorite tunes so you can rotate playing everyone’s favorites. If you subscribe to a music-streaming service, you’ll find plenty of curated or themed playlists reflecting every musical taste and occasion. Here’s one to get your started: the Sofitel Sounds Summer Spirit playlist on Spotify provides two hours of upbeat tracks with a French-inflected, sun-drenched summer spirit. Consider also downloading an audio book or two or podcast episodes for the quieter, more contemplative stretches on the road.
3. Packing Hacks
Create or download a packing list for your destination. (For example, Condé Nast Traveler has a great collection of packing lists covering everything from weddings to theme park trips to hiking holidays.) That way, you won’t forget essential personal care items or clothing, and you’ll be reminded of handy items like hand-warmers, bug spray or sunscreen. This will save you from a last-minute search for them in an unfamiliar destination.
4. Tripping in Good Taste
Travel is a great way to sample new food. So search for local food blogs or use hashtags to identify popular food spots along your route. Depending on the season, you could search out farmer’s markets, food festivals and maker’s markets featuring locally produced, local treats, or u-pick farms for everything from berries to pumpkins. Food TV programs are another way of identifying roadside diners and must-try insider spots.
5. Pretty as a Picture
Scan your route for scenic picnic areas where you can park for a picnic assembled from the great grocery, deli or takeout finds you visit along the way. Try using Instagram hashtags to discover great #lookout and #selfie spots that can double as a scenic picnic spot to relax and stretch your legs before continuing your journey.
6. Get (Your Vehicle) in Shape
Well in advance of your trip, get your car inspected so you have time to have any required maintenance or repairs done. This includes installing seasonal tires and checking your spare, checking and topping up the fluids for the windshield washer, radiator, brakes and power steering. You might need to change the oil, check on the battery, ensure the heat and air conditioning are properly working, fix any windshield cracks or pits and give your vehicle interior a deep cleaning.
7. Pack a Road Safety Kit
Everyone should, but few of us do, carry a road safety kit suitable for all seasons. For example, automobile associations advise having a winter-savvy vehicle emergency kit containing a shovel, snow brush/ice scraper, lock de-icer, reflectors or flares, traction aids (such as sand because road salt can corrode vehicles), antifreeze, booster cables, blankets and extra clothes. Auto clubs also suggest, at all times of year, to pack the basics, which means having a first-aid kit, crank-style flashlight, USB-lighter adapter if your vehicle doesn’t have a charging port, paper towels or rags, a UV windshield shade, bottles of water and non-perishable emergency snacks such as energy bars.
8. Don’t Forget Creature Comforts
Staying comfortable while you travel makes a trip more enjoyable, so consider putting together a simple comfort kit to complement your first aid kit. Depending on the type of road trip, you should include hydration tablets to add to drinking water, headache and fever medicine, sanitizing wipes or gel, tweezers, an EpiPen®, chewing gum if you are going to experience dramatic changes in elevation, and ginger chews for motion sickness. You might also think about including insulated beverage containers for hot and cold drinks that fit your cup-holders, spare sunglasses and back-support pillows.
9. Digital Trip Tech
If your vehicle doesn’t have a GPS system, download a GPS mapping app to plan your route in advance. Some mapping apps let you download regional maps to your mobile device, so they can be used if you’re in an area with spotty or nonexistent cellular service (though direction and navigation functions may not be available without a connection). Before you hit the road, search for local websites or social media feeds detailing traffic conditions, road construction and seasonal updates for key areas along your route. Local news stations or transit and travel authorities often have reliable and up-to-date feeds on road conditions. While you’re at it, check your favorite weather app or website for the short- and long-range forecast to ensure you’re not heading into any extreme conditions.