The great American road trip is almost a tradition in a country that initiated the era of the automobile. It’s almost considered a rite of passage: an archetypal search for freedom and identity, and it has often been memorialized in books and movies rife with nostalgia and misadventure.
The idea of a road trip is appealing because it’s somewhat democratic. It’s simple. It’s fair. And it can lead anywhere. A map, a road-worthy vehicle, and a Jack Kerouac-like appetite for adventure are all that’s necessary.
If you’re planning on a road trip in 2017, here are 5 tips to consider:
- Make sure you have the right paperwork.
The last thing you want to do before you set out is forget to update your driver’s license, license plate stickers, and insurance. When it comes to insurance, you have to research things like liability insurance, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage. It goes without saying that the better the coverage, the easier it will be to handle any accidents or mishaps on your trip, and with cheap online car insurance, it shouldn’t be difficult to get an excellent insurance policy, even if you fall under the category of a higher risk driver.
- Get a vehicle checkup.
Schedule any necessary service for oil changes and tune-ups.
Here are some other things that you should check up on your vehicle:
- · Make sure it has good wiper blades and sufficient fluid levels.
- · Make sure it has a strong battery charge and clean terminals.
- · Make sure it has tires in good conditions. Notice if it has enough tread, if there are any tears, and if there are any bulges on the side wall. Make sure you have the right tire pressure.
- · Make sure it has brake pads that are not worn or need to be replaced.
- · Make sure it is not overloaded when you pack. Check your vehicle’s load capacity to pack smart.
- Estimate your time.
Before you start thinking about your route, estimate how much time you have for the trip. This will tell you how far you can go and how to pace your trip.
- Figure out your budget.
Get a good idea of how much you are willing to spend. You don’t want to run out of money in the middle of nowhere because you didn’t have time to balance your checkbook.
- Get the necessary equipment.
Think about the equipment you will need. Do you need a GPS, a smartphone, travel guides, satellite radio, tents, sleeping bags, and an emergency medical kit? Make a list of all the things that you’ll need to take with you.
- Plan out your route.
By planning out your route, you won’t spend most of your time traveling through cities when you would rather be on a country route or much time in deserts when you would rather be driving through forests.
Here are some ideas for your itinerary:
- 1. Get guides for classic US routes. For instance, the New England fall foliage tour; the nostalgic, old Route 66; the labyrinthine California Highways.
- 2. While planning on taking a trip to favorite sights, be sure to leave some options for unexpected detours. This will allow you to have a general sense of direction while also give you the freedom to wing it.
- 3. If you have no idea where you want to go, then you could simply follow data-genius Randy Olson’s ultimate road trip. According to an article in Washington Post, “At the urging of Tracy Staedter from Discovery News, Olson set out to find the quickest driving route that would stop at a national natural landmark, national historic site, national park or national monument in all of the lower 48 states. He also included Washington, D.C. and added another stop in California to get to a total of 50 stops.” The article has detailed maps.
With so many favorite places and roadside curiosities people across this vast country, you would need a thick guidebook to even start.
With that in mind, here are some idea starters:
- · Go to the Grand Canyon, a geological phenomena that took over a million years to create.
- · Visit Yellowstone, the first national park. Opened in 1872, it spans 2 million acres.
- · Drive along California’s Pacific Highway 1, a 135 mile stretch between San Luis Obispo and Monterey. At Monterey, you can drive an additional two hours north to see the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a 75-year-old feat of engineering.
- · Visit Walt Disney World. Located in Orlando, Florida, your children can enjoy the Magic Kingdom,
- · Explore Cinderella’s Castle, and watch the animatronic wax model of Abe Lincoln in the Hall of Presidents.
- · Go to Times Square, which stretches between Manhattan’s 42nd and 47th street. This piece of Broadway will fascinate you.
- · Baker, California, has the world’s tallest thermometer.
- · Collinsville, Illinois, has the world’s largest bottle of ketchup. The 170 ft tall water tower was built by the W.E. Caldwell Company in 1949 for the G.S. Suppinger catsup bottling plant.
A road trip can be a blast or a disaster. By taking the time for planning ahead, you’ll have fun rather than wishing you had stayed at home.