Top Tips For Planning an Epic Road Trip

Smart Planning Plus Spontaneity Equals an Epic Road Trip

A good old-fashioned road trip has appeal beyond arriving at your final destination. After all, a large part of the appeal is the journey itself. Planning a great road trip can seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. We’ve put together some of the top tips to get you started in planning an epic agritourism travel-centric road trip. Are you ready to start your engines? Well, buckle up! You’re in for a sweet ride.

Open road near red rock mountains
Hitting the Road

Solo Road Trip or the Whole Extended Family?

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth the mention up front. One of the first decisions to make is who is going along. Will you be taking a leisurely solo trip or will you make this a family affair? Will you be bringing the dog, too? Knowing who will be traveling is an important first step in assuring a smooth journey. Not only will you need to make sure you have enough space for everyone, but you’ll need to consider how many personal items – suitcases, backpacks, dog beds, etc – will need a place to be stowed during the journey. Then, there’s everyone’s maximum mileage to consider between stops.

If you’re traveling with kids or pets, you’ll need to plan more frequent stops along the route where they can run or play. A quick gas station pit stop might work well for adults, but it’s not going to cut it for kids or dogs. I’ve found that some interstate rest stops now have playgrounds and even fenced dog park areas, which make a little off-leash romp safe for both you and Fido. Do a quick visual sweep of the area to check for broken glass, trash, or hypodermic needles before letting your kids or dog free to play. And it goes without saying – clean up after your dog.

Start Planning Sooner Rather Than Later – But First, Know Your “Why!”

The best time to start planning is now! Grab a notebook, sit down, and jot away what will make this road trip as meaningful as possible. Do you want to stop by as many roadside stands for fresh produce as possible? Or would you rather spend time at a goat farm along the way? Basically, have a good understanding of what you’d like to see, do, and experience during your journey. Knowing your intention will go a long way toward creating the best plan. This may sound simple, but you would be surprised at how many people want to take a road trip but have no idea what they want to experience along the way.

Make sure that everyone is on board with “the why.” If the goal is to show the kids what it’s like to spend time on a farm, make sure they have an interest. A kid who has no desire to pet goats or feed chickens can make for a miserable trip. Take everyone’s interests and ideas into consideration. If you find yourself at an impasse – split the difference. If Tommy wants to see tractors and stop to pick apples, but Sally only wants to swim at a beach, consider a route that will allow for both. If all else fails, have the kids help plan to journey. Planning helps create the buy-in and gives kids a broader perspective, and something to look forward to along the way.

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Use Planning Tools to Your Advantage

With so many road trip planning tools at your disposal, it may seem a little overwhelming trying to pick the best one. Pro Tip: Use multiple planning tools for different aspects of your trip. For example, using Google Maps to find a route may seem like the perfect idea. After all, it’s easy to use and allows users to pick routes that avoid tolls or traffic. But when traveling along a more rural route, the tool cannot distinguish between a paved road and a tiny dirt backroad. Using a tool like Roadtrippers allows you to create a route, plus find amazing stops along the way, and suggest fascinating detours.

If you’ll be pulling a camper during your road trip, you’ll want to be extra mindful of your route. Google Maps will not alert you about tight turns or low clearance hazards and can route you along a road that only allows passenger cars. Instead, use a route planning tool specifically with RVs in mind, such as RV Life’s Trip Wizard. Not only will you find the best and safest route for pulling a camper, but fuel stops and great campgrounds along the way.

Make Your Car or Truck Road-Trip Ready

Nothing ruins a great road trip faster than a mechanical issue. Before hitting the road, take time to make sure the basics are in order. How is your car’s battery? If you haven’t changed it in the last 5 years, chances are you’re due for a new one. What about your tires? Check that you have ample tread and the correct air pressure in all four tires. Make certain you have a spare, along with a tire iron and jack if you get a flat. Check the oil and coolant levels, and if you’re driving a diesel, make sure your DEF tank is full. These simple checks can help prevent lost time and money along the way.

Additionally, create a first aid kit for your car! Pack jumper cables, a small tool kit, extra windshield washer fluid, and some rags to help clear debris from windshields or mop up any spills. Be sure to take any warning light indicators seriously and have them checked immediately. As Benjamin Franklin famously advised, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Finding a River on a Road Trip
Explore a Trail or Park

Leave Room in Your Itinerary for Exploration

As we stated in the beginning, a road trip is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Therefore, don’t pack your schedule so tightly that you don’t leave room for exploration along the way. Stop at roadside monuments to learn about historic events, take a detour through a small town, and stop at any roadside stand selling produce or homemade maple syrup. Farm roads and rural routes are the best places to find local food and handcrafted souvenirs.

Be sure to talk to the locals. Ask about their town and you’re sure to learn about stops that don’t show up on a map or in an app. Need a recommendation for a local farm-to-table restaurant? Ask a local. Looking for the best pick-your-own experience? Ask a local. You get the best insider tips this way and are sure to find some off-the-beaten-path gems that you may have otherwise missed.

Most of all – have fun! You can easily turn miles into memories with a little planning ahead of time. You’ll be ready to take that dream road trip and travel like a pro before you know it. Remember – the journey of a thousand miles starts with a great plan!

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