The ultimate guide to planning a road trip

Sam Bisby

By: Sam Bisby

Budget

When you are planning your road trip, you should consider the planning your budget. You should budget your accommodation, fuel, food, activities and insurance throughout the road trip for a daily basis.

In order to budget for fuel, you will need to work out the mileage required for the road trip as well as driving around at your destination. Vehicle maintenance may need to be included in your budget.

You will need to consider the costs of activities such as visiting tourist attractions as well as the costs of buying equipment such as camping kit. The budget needs to include £5 to £15 worth of food and drink for the road trip, whether you are planning to pay at a restaurant or cook at a campsite. You should also consider where you are planning to sleep, whether it is a tent or in a hotel. Hotels will need a bigger budget and will sometimes need to be reserved in advance.

Route

A road trip needs to be mapped out and planned before it starts, unless it is the spontaneous kind. The planned route should include the roads being used and planned stops such as accommodation and attractions along the route to the destination. Just in case the route you have mapped out has a few issues, remember to map out a plan B route. You should be driving a maximum of five to six hours a day to ensure you don’t get too tired behind the wheel. It is essential that you take a map and a GPS on your road trip.

Preparing car

You should prepare your car for a road trip by ensuring it is safe and roadworthy with a car service. This service should check the car’s oil, brake pads, headlights, tyres, water level, engine coolant level and windscreen washer fluid. After this you should ensure you have up to date roadside assistance, car insurance, car registration and driver’s licence for the country you are driving in as well as check the road tax is valid. The driver should also check the age limits for driving in the country.

Your road trip car should hold an emergency kit as well as a first aid kit. The emergency car kit should feature a spare tyre, a torch, warm blankets, water, a charged phone and a hazard triangle, in addition to any other emergency equipment legally required in the country you are visiting.

Volvo XC60 car

Pets

If you are taking a dog or cat on the road trip, you should never leave your pet alone in the car, stop every three hours to allow them to walk freely, give your pet water as soon as you stop the car and ensure the accommodation you are staying at is pet friendly.

Pre-departure

The group taking the road trip should agree on road trip rules such as who is in charge of the entertainment, so there aren’t any arguments. Accommodation should be booked before leaving home on the road trip. Route stops should be planned for every two to three hours of the road trip.

Your home should be prepared before leaving on the road trip. Food that is likely to go out of date while on the road trip should be removed, a set of keys should be left with a relative just in case and you should inform your bank so that they do not block your card from making payments while on the trip. 

Packing

When you are packing for a road trip, you should consider how much and what type of clothing you will need according to the weather as well as activities you will be taking part in. You should also take a water-proof coat and spare clothing for the car, in case of emergency. Remember you can always wash clothing on the road trip and even buy more clothing if you need more.

If you are taking food and drink with you, cold and hot supplies should be kept separately. Water bottles are ideal for quick hydration in a car. Road trip snacks should be non-sticky, for example chocolate can melt.

Entertainment should also be a consideration for a road trip. You might be sat in a car for up to six hours a day. Therefore books, DVDs (if you have a DVD player), cameras, games and MP3 players will be needed on the journey. If children are accompanying you on the journey, you might want to consider also adding their favourite toys, colouring books and other things they like to do. You should also take a look at our road trip games suggestions to fend off car boredom. 

Every road trip should have a first aid kit, hand sanitizer, plastic bags and toilet paper on the list of essentials to be kept in the car.

The items that will be needed during the journey or at the next stop should be packed on top in the car boot. Items should not be crammed into the food wells to ensure passengers have enough room to move their feet. Items should instead be placed in the car boot or on a spare seat.