15 Tips For The Best Road Trip Ever

Long road trips can be fun - or they can be boring and exhausting. I've been to a few cross-country road trips myself, and I embark on long state to state road trips every month by myself. It's not just a vacation, but it's so much more than that. When you drive, you have a destination in mind, and the ultimate desire is to get there as quickly and safe as possible, but getting there is not an easy task. So before you climb behind the wheel, here are some preparations you'll want to make for the best road trip ever.

1. Decide on a place to go.
Make a Plan A, B or C. There are so many exciting places around us. Pick a national park, a beach, a trail or a new state you've never been to. Just pick a place that has always been there in the back of your mind as a fun place to go.

2. Make an itinerary.
Sketch out a plan. Plan your route and stops before you leave. I like to keep my plans either on a notebook or on my phone's notepad. You know your destination, but deciding your route and stops can really depend on you. Make sure everyone is on the same page before you leave to avoid being stuck in a car with unhappy passengers.

3. Stay alert, arrive alive.
Make sure that the road trip does not leave you in a fugue state because of lack of sleep. Remember, you're going to be a driver on this spontaneous road trip. If coffee or Monster keeps you awake, good for you. But for a non-coffee drinker like me, I highly suggest purchasing caffeine pills. It works fairly good without feeling tired and having to crash after. If there's another driver, switch off driving duties. If you have a disposal of friends of drivers, even better. What better way to build everlasting memories with life long friends. Sing through songs all your friends know while you plan to make a stop to check out cool new places along the way.

4. Pack your bags judiciously.
Make sure you pack all the necessities whether the trip is long or short. Consolidate your bags to maximum capacity. Just remember where you put everything. And remember, only take what you think you'll need. Consider packing clothes in packing bags or my favorite, large ziplock bags. If you pack light, you keep the weight of your car to a minimum. The lighter the ride, the longer she'll glide.

5. Create a solid realistic budget.
Don't ruin your trip by stressing over money or running out of it. Be sure to include food and lodging in your budget, as well as any miscellaneous stuff you plan on doing along the way. What I usually do, I withdraw cash and put my set out budget in an envelope and label it (food, gas, etc.). Also, look for ways to save some cash. You might have a good budget in hand, but doesn't mean you can't still save.

6. Look for an exit with multiple gas stations and fast food chains on the signs.
The prices will be lower because there's competition and you'll be able to compare the best option for you. Download apps like GasBuddy to see where to get cheap gas prices around the area.

7. Preflight is crucial.
Make sure your vehicle is in excellent condition. This is important for you and your passengers safety. Every time I set forth on a road trip, I always make sure to do safety checks, change its vital oils and all of the maintenance taken care of. Always keep proper tools you need in the back of your car to change a flat (and make sure you know how to use it), and that your spare tire is also ready to go. A healthy vehicle won't break down on you in the middle of nowhere.

8. Stay entertained.
Assign someone to be the DJ and make a totally banging road trip playlist. Once you're on the road for a long time, you need something to keep you sane and not feeling tired. A road trip doesn't exist without amazing throwbacks to sing to and lively swinging music to dance to.

9. Set a limit on how many hours you will drive that day.
Being in the military, they've always taught us that our maximum allowable distance to travel is 8 hours a day, and it's up to you if you want to obey that. But I've been sticking to it ever since then. I think it's very efficient and it will allow you to have enough time to rest to do the same drive the next day. Personally, I don't care driving alone all day and night, but I will not drive any farther in a single day.

10. Make lodging reservation in advance.
Cross-country trips are tiring and you'll be anxious to hit the sack every night. The last thing you would want to do is to try to make a reservation only to find out they're fully booked. It has happened to me in the past and I've learned from it. Hotels fill up fast in the popular tourist areas, especially during vacation seasons. If you choose to rent out a house through AirBnB, make reservations as early as possible. The prices go up as day comes nearer.

11. Think about your comfort in your vehicle.
Wear comfortable clothes. Also, keep things tidy in your rolling home. Pack hand wipes, napkins, hand sanitizer and plastic bags that can be used for as garbage bags or to use for keeping the dirty clothes separate.

12. Create an emergency survival kit.
Fill up a bag or a basket with: a jack, jumper cables, flashlight with batteries, rags, utility tool (Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman), first aid kit, umbrella, flares.

13. Bring a phone charger and a charger adapter.
It will save you from boredom, getting lost and a dead phone.

14. Stop on truck stops.
To survive driving all day, you need to stretch and use the bathroom. Pilot and similar truck-driver places tend to be open all night or 24 hours, well lit, fairly safe, heated, have food options and lots of clean (usually) restrooms. Truck stops are better than rest areas and some tiny gas stations.

15. Build memories.
As B.B King would say, "Let the good times roll."

Now that you have these helpful tips for planning your cross-country drive, you just have one thing left to do - hit the road!