A road trip without any plans is the most exciting way to enjoy a vacation. Well, not completely without a plan since you will at least need to know which direction you are taking, and how long you would be on the road. Not having schedules — which town you will be in the next day, or the next two days — is a lot more relaxing and free.
However, there are things you need to prepare to make it a hassle-free trip as well. Never mind making advanced reservations. Not knowing if you will have to sleep in your car for the night will be part of the surprises you will experience.
There are so many horror stories of cars running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. They are not just supernatural incidents too. The more tangent scares in the world could be out there waiting for stranded motorists — robbers, criminals, and the bunch of crazy people you wouldn’t want to bump into on a vacation. Plus the idea of being stranded, not knowing what to do is enough horror to make you want to take charge of at least this one aspect of your trip.
Have a rough knowledge of the gas stations around the areas you might be passing through. That way, you will be able to estimate when you’d need to turn off an exit. If you are going through back roads, make sure your tank is full enough to allow you to miss some turns, get lost a bit, and be flexible with your course.
Motorists are also allowed to bring extra fuel with you, provided that your container meets the requirements. It’s insane how many people get stuck in back roads just because they don’t take advantage of this permissible load.
Road rules in all the places you will be going through
Each state or even each town may have a different set of speed limits. Be wary of these. You never know when a Stalker radar gun will be aimed at you. Understand that breaking speed limits can cost you part of your vacation money. You could use it for some more drinks or get more miles covered.
In line with this, make sure you pay attention to tolls. It could get confusing at times especially since some tollways no longer collect fees. But be diligent with your fees because your fines would be so much higher than the toll rate.
Have a garage’s number on your phone all the time. Of course, it would be meaningless if you break down in a place where there is no network. And if you are going through back roads and less used country routes, you are bound to find yourself in a place like this from time to time.
Before setting out, make sure your vehicle has been primed in the first place. Hopefully, you have some basic mechanic skills like changing tires and maybe even jumpstarting your vehicle if it suddenly dies on the road. Make sure you had loaded the tools you need.
You’re not expected to bring food that could last a week, of course. But have some filling snacks and lots of water. Stock energy bars as well — granolas, chocolates, and sweets. These will not take the place of your proper meals but would only be for emergency purposes. If you get hungry along the way and you are still some hours away from a diner or fast food place, you can eat from your stash but remember to replace them when you find a convenience store.
Water cannot be emphasized enough. Bring loads of it. If you get stuck for some crazy reasons, you will need water more than food.
Updated physical maps
With today’s cars already installed with GPS and your several map mobile phone apps, the old school folded maps are no longer popular with travelers. But they are still very important. You will be preparing for the worst eventualities on the road so know how you will be able to navigate your way even when you wouldn’t have a network signal or even when your phone batteries have died. This is with the assumption though that you know how to read a map.
Make sure you have new ones. It wouldn’t do if your map doesn’t reflect the new forks in those scenic villages you are passing through.
Road trips are like a representation of our freedom. The feeling of driving on long stretches of roads, having control of your steering wheel, determining when you will stop — this is the medicine that we all need after so many months of staying cooped in our homes. So go and be free, but be prepared.