With Covid unofficially in the rearview mirror, and summer officially here, it is time to start planning your next summer road trip(s). There is something to be said about taking a road trip during the summer; the freedom, low stress and relaxation, and the simple joys that come with exploring the country through the rolled down windows of your automobile. In this article we will get into some tips on taking your summer road trip this year as well as offer up some suggestions on possible destinations, keeping in mind that the journey is just as important.
Why take a summer road trip instead of flying somewhere?
Flying is great. It gets you from point a to point b in usually less than a day if you’re flying within the United States. However, you miss everything on the ground between your destinations and you don’t get any time in our country’s beautiful summer weather. Throughout the United States there are gorgeous parks, attractions, and sites to see and you would be missing all that by flying on a plane. You also have the flexibility to adjust your road trip, or take more time going from point A to point B. You can do all the planning in the world, but there are just some things that you can’t account for during a digital search. Shops or food stands, great picture opportunities or tours – when taking a road trip you can do all of this, but will most certainly miss out on this country’s beautiful splendors off the beaten path if you decide to hop on a jet.
How to plan your summer road trip
The first thing you need to do is set a budget and your three biggest expenses will usually be lodging, gas, and food. As soon as you know how much money you’d like to spend you can start to plan where you’d like to go (more on this later). As noted above, it’s best to account for miscellaneous expenses as not being married to a strict itinerary is one of the main benefits of taking a summer road trip. The best way to plan for these unplanned expenses is to do your due diligence researching your trip. Where do you want to go, what do you want to see, how much is a hotel or AirBnB at your stops as well as your destination? As you begin to do your research, and start reserving lodging (or campgrounds) you can start to get a better idea of things that you can add or subtract based on your initial budget.
*It’s also a good idea to contact your insurance to ensure that you will be covered for the duration of your trip. Accidents and misfortunes rarely happen, but it is a good idea to make sure you’ll be in the clear if something does occur.
How to select a destination
This all boils down to four important factors. Where you’re starting, where you want to go, how long you have, and your budget. This is your chance to brainstorm as the country is literally your oyster. Is there anywhere specific in the country you’ve wanted to visit, but never had a chance to? Are you ok with warmer climates in the south, or would you like to stick to the northern part of the country. One thing to keep in mind, you don’t have to take just one road trip. You can spread your road trips out throughout the summer, going to various destinations around your home on the weekends. Trust us, there’s plenty to see three or four hours from your house from just about any location in the country. But if you do decide to take one longer road trip, you now have the time to research different stops along the way, as well as your costs for lodging and gas. When deciding to take a roadtrip, most people already have a destination in mind. From there it is just a matter of budgeting.
Here are 20 U.S. summer road trip suggestions we were able to compile:
Phoenix to Page Arizona
Pacific Coast Highway
Joshua Tree National Park
San Antonio to Austin, Texas
New Orleans to Baton Rouge
New York to Newport, RI
Upstate New York
The Great Smoky Mountains
Park Loop Acadia National Park
Oregon Coast Highway
Maine Lobster Trail
The Alaskan Highway
Zion National Park, Utah
Black Hills Of South Dakota
Blue Ridge Parkway – Virginia
Olympic Peninsula – Washington
Brandywine Valley – Pennsylvania and Delaware
Cape Cod – Massachusetts
Outer Banks – North Carolina
As you can see, no matter what part of the country you’re in, there is a summer road trip option not far from your location. This list should be enough to get your creative juices flowing, so you can hop onto Google to start planning your summer road trip today.
Nine tips for taking a summer road trip
Now that you’ve got your budget and destination in place, we’ve got some tips to help your summer road trip go by quicker.
Have your car inspected prior to departure
Having your car inspected properly before you leave is a great way to protect yourself from potential car trouble during your road trip. Once the mechanic checks you out, you can embark on your journey more confidently. Also, just because you’re on a summer road trip doesn’t mean you can’t stop and have your car checked out or fixed while away. Safety is always the #1 priority, so don’t neglect car troubles as they arise. Get them fixed as soon as possible.
Have a roadside rescue plan
If you don’t have one already, it is a good idea to contact your insurance or AAA about roadside rescue services.
Download an audiobook
Music and road trips go hand in hand, but during long road trips, that often is not enough. Having podcasts or audiobooks lined up is a great way to pass the time and learn or be entertained while you’re on the pavement.
Get plenty of sleep before you drive
Making sure you’re well rested before you hit the road is very important. Driving while groggy is dangerous, so you’re going to need all your facilities while on your road trip – especially if you’re the one behind the wheel.
Try not to travel in congested areas during rush hour
Picture this, you’re on schedule, and have been cruising for hours, only to find yourself in bumper to bumper traffic. Your lodging is 20 miles away, but it will take 45 minutes to get there. Nothing is worse than being stuck in traffic, especially when you’re on a road trip. You’ll thank yourself if you plan ahead, trust us.
Pack some healthy snacks
As we mentioned above, food will be one of your greatest expenses during your summer road trip, so it is a good idea to stop at the grocery store for some human road fuel. In this case, it is a good idea to bring a cooler that you can fill with sandwiches and drinks, so you don’t have to stop each time your stomach grumbles.
It is important to have plenty of fluids in your car like water as prolonged periods of transportation can be dehydrating. You might have to make a few unscheduled stops in order to use the bathroom, but maintaining a healthy fluidity during your summer road trip will keep you sharp and energized so you can fully enjoy the trip and all its scheduled stops.
Since you’ll be on the road far from home, it is a good idea to be prepared for accidents or car trouble. You never know what is going to happen. Flares and lighting, jumper cables, a first aid kit, and even car fluids and tools like motor oil and coolant are a good idea to have in case something goes wrong.
Bring games and entertainment for the kids
If you’re traveling with children it is a good idea to have some things to keep them occupied. Movies and games on tablets are great, but if you’re traveling for an extended period of time, they may get restless. Books, puzzles, and road games are great additional ways to keep your children occupied while on the road. Here are 21 road games you can play with (or without) kids in the car.
Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy it, and one of the best ways to do that is by taking a summer road trip. We’ve laid out just about everything you need to know in order to plan for, and take the road trip of a lifetime – filled with pictures, memories, and stories that will be with you for years to come.