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Travel Pros Share the 5 Best Long Road Trip Tips to Avoid Tiring Yourself Out on the Drive

Plus, all the essentials you need for the journey

With summer days approaching, you might be itching to explore new places and get out on the open road. While some prefer flying to arrive at their destination sooner, others have even more wanderlust and don’t want to miss any sights. Whether you go for a solo adventure or go with friends and family, “traveling by car is often more convenient, as you can plan the whole trip according to your preferences, however, it still requires some preparation to make the most of your time away,” says Alonso Marly, travel expert at SkyLux Travel. Keep reading for the best long road trip tips and how to make the most out of your vacation.

The best long road trip tips

While some road trips can have an element of spontaneity, those with longer durations require a little bit more preparation and planning. Experts share tips and tricks so you don’t hit a bump in the road.

1. Plan out your long road trip

For trips that are five hours or less, you don’t need quite as much of a plan. However, Marlie Love, the co-founder of Traveling While Black, recommends three weeks of planning for multiple-day U.S. road trips. “This gives you time to plan, rest, and get your vehicle ready,” she says.

During this phase, you’ll also want to research the cities you’re staying in, make any reservations for parks or other excursions and determine where you’ll be staying on the road. Love’s advice: “Pick a hotel brand you want to stick with while on this road trip.” By staying with one hotel, you can either earn points or build a rapport with the brand. It’ll be easier to extend your stay or book a last-minute room if needed.

2. Ensure the car is ready

Woman loading luggage for a long road trip
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Whether you drive your car or end up renting one, it’s important to make sure it’s ready to handle the conditions of the road. “Always make sure your rental car (and your own personal vehicle) has an emergency kit (non-perishable food, water, flares, flashlight/batteries, tools, first aid kit, etc),” says Cheryl Nelson, travel preparedness expert and the founder and CEO of Prepare With Cher. Make sure you also check your oil and filters, the tire pressure, the wiper fluid and the wiper blades.

Besides all the mechanical things, cleaning your car is also a good way to start a long road trip. “Remove all the extra clutter and old coffee cups to leave enough room for all your road trip essentials,” says Marly. You’ll most likely have some of what you need (sunglasses, phone charger, hand sanitizer, etc.) if you drive the same car every day.

3. Make sure you’re getting enough rest

Getting enough rest during a road trip is key. Love notes that your pre-trip sleep is just as if not more important than the rest on the road. You should be aiming for eight hours each day in the week leading up to your long road trip. “I am adamant about this because being tired on the first few days of your road trip can take a toll on your whole vacation,” says Love.

This includes the types of hotels you stay at as well. “If you are a light sleeper, do not get a hotel that is known to have loud events or a lively lobby bar,” says Love. Traveling alone? Get a hotel in a safe area so anxiety doesn’t keep you up. It’s all about finding the best places for you and your road trip crew.

If you’re not traveling alone, then you can swap driving shifts with another passenger. Take naps when you’re not behind the wheel, or try closing your eyes during a longer stretch.

4. Find ways to entertain yourself

Even though staring out the window can be enjoyable, no road trip is complete without entertainment. It’s also a great way to bond with your friends and family. Some of the most common activities include cranking a curated playlist or playing fun games along the way. “You can guess movies by explaining the plot, take turns solving tricky riddles or even play ‘Truth or Dare’, ‘Never Have I Ever’ or ‘Most Likely To’ if there are more people in the car,” says Marly.

When you’re not traveling with anyone else, you can “call friends to catch up,” or “keep your mind engaged and listen to a podcast (or audiobook),” adds Nelson. No matter how long the road trip is, you certainly won’t be bored.

5. Be realistic about your journey

Span of open highway
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“Make sure you know your driving limits and stick to them,” says Love. Don’t try and drive 12 hours straight when you haven’t done that before. Do what you can and swap with someone or take a quick pitstop if you’re alone.

The total distance you can accomplish in a day depends on your driving capabilities and the route you take. “For a 7-day trip, you can reasonably do 800 up to 1,000 miles, while for a shorter three-day trip, get ready for 200 to 300 miles depending on the roads you are taking, as highways will always be a quicker way compared to smaller side roads,” adds Marly.

Long road trip must-haves

While rest is key, nourishment and hydration are also needed on the road. Since you’re traveling by car, there’s no limit when it comes to packing. Don’t go overboard, but you’ll be able to fit everything you need. Here are some items that should always go on a long road trip with you.

  • 12-pack of water or reusable water bottles
  • Snacks
  • Blankets
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Clothing for various weather
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Portable chargers
  • Batteries

For more travel tips:

3 Top Tips to Avoiding Sneaky Travel Scams — So You Can Enjoy Your Summer Vacation

Planning a Summer Vacation? Experts Share 3 Ways To Save Money While Traveling

RV and Road Trip Fans: Put These Quirky Roadside Attractions On Your Travel Bucket List

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