As winter becomes a distant memory, many are beginning to seek out a carefree spring adventure escapade. What better way than hitting the open road and taking in some spectacular scenery. In the states, options for a memorable road trip are practically unlimited, so we’ve put together the ultimate Spring Break road trip guide to get you started.
Make Your Car Road Trip Ready
Your car is the star of your road trip, so the last thing you want is for a mechanical problem to become the center of attention. This risk can be eliminated almost entirely by performing some basic maintenance before you go. If you’re not mechanically minded, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your mechanic to check your vehicle’s health. Giving it a tune-up will give you peace of mind and reduce the chance of ending up in a repair shop instead of enjoying your holiday.
With how much time you’ll be spending in your car, you’ll want to make it as comfortable as possible by giving it a thorough clean before you leave. Washing and waxing the exterior before you go may seem backward, but a clean car makes it easier to clean off-road debris and bug goo when you return home.
Finally, trash management while traveling is something that should be considered, especially if you’re traveling with family. Between stopping for food, in-car snacks, tissues and napkins, and everything in between, it doesn’t take long for rubbish to start piling up. Pack some rubbish bags and clean-as-you-go to create a more pleasant environment for everyone in the car.
Prepare An Emergency Kit
Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and when you’re hundreds of miles from home, your safety depends on how well-stocked your emergency kit is. Your emergency kit should contain all the essentials to help you deal with a roadside emergency. Additionally, you know your family and your vehicle better than anyone else, so don’t be afraid to get specific when it comes to which items to prepare.
A well-stocked emergency kit should contain the following:
- Gauze pads
- Sterile gloves
- Alcohol wipes
- Physical map
- A blanket
- Rechargeable power bank
- Road flares
- Tire jack
- Puncture repair kit (if you don’t have a spare tire)
- Jumper cables or jump-start/battery box
- Reflectors or road flares
What To Do If Your Car Breaks Down
Having an emergency plan prepared in the event of a breakdown can minimize your stress when it happens.
The most important consideration in the event of a breakdown is your safety. If possible, move the car off the road and out of the way of traffic. If the car can’t be moved then put on the hazard lights and call the police to let them know. Remember those reflective triangles and road flares you packed in your emergency kit? Now’s the time to use them.
Evaluate your surroundings. Do you know where you are? Do you know how far away the nearest major highway and intersections are? Are you in a well-lit location? Is there a gas station nearby? If you need to call a tow truck or roadside assistance, the more information you can give them, the quicker they will be able to get to you.
If you are in a safe, well-lit location it’s time to assess the damage. Is it a problem you can fix yourself like a flat tire, or will you need assistance? When calling a tow service or roadside assistance service, give them as much detail about the problem as you can, including how it started.
Cell phone service can be questionable when you’re in the middle of nowhere. It’s best to download everything you’ll need via wifi before you hit the road.
Here are a few apps that can can make your life easier on the road:
- Waze – Provides real-time traffic updates
- Roadtrippers – Discover out points of interest along your route
- GasBuddy – For finding gas and comparing prices
- Recreation.gov –Manage campground reservations
- HotelTonight – Browse last-minute hotel deals
If you’re lucky enough to be a passenger, kill some time when the scenery is dull with apps like Netflix and Spotify. Instead of burning through your precious data plan, you can download shows and songs before you hit the road. Additionally, don’t forget to pack your phone charger, or if traveling with family, a multi-phone charger.
Create A Packing List
Even if you’re not a list-maker, having a checklist for your road trip can ensure you pack all the essentials. It’s never fun to be hundreds of miles from home, only to realize you forgot something important.
So have each member of your family write down the things that they absolutely need to bring with them. A few days before the trip, start packing, and go over each checklist with everyone. It’s a great way to stay organized and make sure you don’t leave something behind.
Food is an always-appreciated necessity, particularly if you’re traveling with children. Always pack some snacks and beverages to hold everyone over between stops. Lunch and dinner breaks are important to give the driver and passengers a chance to stretch their legs.
Planning Your Route
Road trips are more about the journey than the destination. One way to make your road trip memorable is to plot your route ahead of time, noting any points of interest. These stops can give the driver a chance to stretch their legs and take a mental break from concentrating on the road.
It may be tempting to get to where you’re going as soon as possible. However, rushing may cause you to miss out on some interesting roadside attractions and interesting sights that can make your trip even more memorable.
Some of our favorite road trip stops include:
- Sequoia National Park in Southern Sierra Nevada – Large trees and dramatic landscapes provide the opportunity for some spectacular photography.
- Sedona in Arizona – A desert oasis, Sedona has plenty of stunning hiking and mountain biking trails, providing a break from the car.
- The Free-Range Art Highway in Las Vegas – This open-air art exhibition has some of the most eye-popping sculptures and murals in the region including a 40-feet fire breathing praying mantis.
- Thor’s Well and Sprouting Horn in Oregan – Kids of all ages will love the opportunity to get up close to these geysers and blowholes with waves shooting saltwater far into the sky through holes that have been worn through the rock.
- Hamilton Pool in Texas – A natural swimming hole adjacent to a 50-foot jade green waterfall is the perfect place to unwind. Note: Due to COVID-19 and recent extreme weather, no swimming is allowed until further notice. However, some parts of the hiking trail remain open.
Picking The Right Destination
As we wave farewell to winter’s cool weather, you may feel a warm, tropical location calling your name. The beach is always a popular spot to get away from it all, but we can almost guarantee everybody else is thinking the same thing.
With the pandemic still lingering, a crowded beach is less-than-ideal with plenty of family-friendly fun to be found at less popular tourist spots. There are plenty of sunny places around the Southwest that don’t involve the sand and surf.
Websites such as Trip Advisor and Travel US News make it simple to research holiday destinations and compare prices, and there of plenty of travel blogs exploring any region of the USA that you want to visit.
As some states begin the process of opening up, it’s important to stay up to date with CDC travel guidelines – especially if you’re planning on crossing state lines. Although you’re eliminating some risk by traveling by car, you still need to be vigilant at gas stations, restaurants, rest stops, and anywhere you might encounter other people.
Pack enough sanitizer and masks for everyone you’ll be traveling with. When stopping at public areas, be sure to sanitize areas you will touch and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. If you have a smartphone that allows for mobile payments, be sure to set it up by connecting it to your credit card to minimize contact during your trip.
Keeping Kids Entertained
All parents know that children sometimes don’t share the same enthusiasm for road trips that adults do. The key to keeping children entertained is to plan ahead. This can be achieved by a mixture of conversation topics, preparing games you can play in the car, or electronic devices with their favorite movies.
Keeping kids busy makes it easier for the driver to focus on the road rather than having to entertain them throughout the trip. Packing their favorite movies and books can be complimented with any number of car games can keep even the easily bored child from asking ‘are we there yet?’
Frequently Asked Road Trip Questions
How Do I Prepare My Body For A Long Road Trip?
Successful preparation for a long road trip begins days before you leave. It’s recommended that the driver should be eating a balanced diet and getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep before hitting the road.
There are three main elements a driver needs to manage both before starting on a road trip and once on the road – these are food, water, and fatigue. Not getting enough of any one of these will affect mental alertness and reaction time, putting your life and the life of your passengers at risk. Plan rest stops and meal breaks before you leave. Don’t be afraid to stop and take a break when you begin to feel hungry, thirsty, or fatigued.
How Often Should You Take A Break On A Road Trip?
Driving requires extended concentration and attempting to drive long distances without a break is dangerous. To prevent mental fatigue and maintain an optimal safe driving level, it’s generally recommended to stop and have a break every two hours.
Ideally, you should stop the vehicle and go for a short walk or do some gentle stretching. It’s important to listen to your body while driving and pull over in a safe area anytime you feel you might need a break.
What Should You Do To Your Car Before Taking A Road Trip?
All the planning that went into your road trip will be for nothing if your car breaks down along the way. If you’re hundreds of miles from home or in the middle of nowhere, a car break down can be an absolute disaster. Before you leave home, we recommend checking the following and performing the necessary maintenance or repairs to ensure you get to your destination safely:
- Fluids – oil, brake fluid, coolant, windshield washer fluid, power steering fluid
- Tires – tire pressure and condition
- Brake pads – brake pad thickness
- Air filter – both engine and cabin air filters
- Lights – headlights, taillights, signal lights, emergency light, cabin lights
- Belts and hoses – timing belt, serpentine belt, coolant hoses
Looking to cross these off your checklist quickly? Book an appointment with AutoNation Mobile Service and a mobile technician will come to you to perform a thorough inspection of your vehicle directly in your driveway.