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5 Tips To Plan Your First Road Trip

Looking to head out on your very first road trip? Check out these tips to plan the perfect trip for beginners!

A road trip is a great way to sightsee and reconnect with friends and family along the way. Road trips can be an inexpensive, enjoyable, safe, and fun way to travel long distances for both individuals and families. However, a good road trip does take some planning. Keep reading for some helpful tips to make sure your road trip is safe and fun!

1) Choose A Destination

Wondering where to take a road trip? To have a successful road trip, you first need to decide on the best road trip destination for you. For beginners, it is a good idea to choose a location that is not too far away. We suggest heading to a nearby city, nature preserve, important landmark, or similar area that is a few hours away.

If you feel a little more comfortable traveling longer distances, try looking through various travel blogs and magazines to find the ultimate road trip destination for you. Here at PowerStop, we happen to be seasoned road trippers ourselves and have been to lots of cool places! Therefore, if you need some road trip inspiration, look through some of the photos we’ve taken throughout the years down below or check out our Instagram page! Need even more road trip inspiration? Head over to Amazon Prime Video to watch our award winning Trail to SEMA series where we travel from Chicago, Illinois to Las Vegas, Nevada for the annual SEMA tradeshow. That’s a road trip of over 1,700 miles! Along the way, we tackle some of the most difficult yet beautiful off-road trails that the US has to offer in modified Jeeps, 4x4s, and buggy’s to make up one incredible adventure. We’re sure it’ll give you the “travel bug” and provide some helpful inspiration!

Car on road trip with family
Jeep off road on the PowerStop Trail To SEMA Roadtrip and Adventure

2) Pick A Route

Many people choose to take a scenic route to their road trip destination. Scenic routes may make the travel time longer, but the view can be much more enjoyable. After all, it’s about the journey, not the destination! For longer trips, it is also important to plan for rest stops along the way. To keep you alert and help ensure road trips are safe, it is a good idea to plan to stop and take a small break around every two hours. Try to plan these stops around mealtimes or find some interesting places along your route that would be good for a short visit. If you have multiple destinations you’d like to visit all within the same general area, try chaining them together into one larger trip. A road trip doesn’t have to be to any single destination; you can choose what interests you!

Car on a road trip in the United States

3) Pack The Essentials

Wondering how to make road trips more comfortable? The length and destination of the trip is the biggest factor in considering what to take on road trips. If you are heading somewhere cold, don’t forget winter essentials like coats, hats, and blankets. Heading somewhere warm? Bring lighter clothing, extra water, and sunscreen if you plan on making any stops where you’d be in the sun. Also, consider the time of day and weather when you will be driving to decide if you need things like sunglasses for the driver or sunshades for passenger windows. It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast before you leave, too, for your trip so you know what to expect!

However, regardless of destination, there are some key essentials that you need:

  • Driver’s license & insurance paperwork
  • Credit card and/or cash
  • Map (physical or downloaded in case you lose cellphone service)
  • Clothing and toiletries
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight/Headlamp/Emergency lights (if traveling at night)
  • Food, water, and snacks (try healthy road trip snacks like carrots or almonds)
  • Phone & Laptop chargers
family on a road trip for the first time happy and excited

4) Consider What Else You’re Bringing

Road trips are more fun with friends and family. Decide who is coming along on your trip in advance to make sure your vehicle will have enough space for everyone to travel comfortably. Going on a road trip with a baby or small children? Don’t forget to bring the car seats! For longer trips, bring some entertainment to help make the trip more fun for everyone. Have your passengers download their favorite movies or make a playlist with music that everyone loves. You can also try giving each person a chance to DJ or let everyone take turns playing their favorite song! Also, don’t forget about classic road trip games that can involve everyone such as “I Spy”, “20 Questions”, or the “Alphabet game”. Games will help keep everyone engaged and can be great bonding experiences.

The most important thing to remember: road trips are all about the journey. To us, spending some quality time on the road is better than spending lots of money on a plane ticket. Try to make the most of the drive and appreciate all the uninterrupted time you’ll have with your family and friends! Also, planning fun activities for the trip will guarantee that everyone is happy and excited once you finally reach your destination. Making the road trip as fun as possible for everyone is the best way to have a successful journey.

Truck with camper on roadtrip

5) Get A Vehicle Inspection Or Tune Up

On longer road trips, it’s a good idea to have a mechanic inspect your vehicle before you leave. If the inspection shows any problems with your vehicle, it is best to fix those issues as soon as possible. This will help make your road trip safer by avoiding mechanical problems during your trip. Make sure to take care of any routine maintenance such as an oil change, tire rotation, or topping off fluids. Another potential issue you might face is the need to replace a faulty or worn-out brake system.

Letting the mechanic put any old off-the-shelf parts on your vehicle should not be the first option, though. You want long-lasting confidence in your brake system, and not all brakes are the same. Because of this, more and more people are researching, reading reviews, and watching video reviews to find the best replacement upgrade. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to be in control.

Using PowerStop’s Brake Finder, all you need to do is enter your vehicle’s year/make/model and a list of brake kits that perfectly fit your vehicle will show up. From the options, choose a kit that matches your driving style and you’ll be shown upgraded brakes at an affordable price that are guaranteed to fit your vehicle. All of our brake kits come with everything you need – no extra trips to the parts store needed.

Don’t want to install them yourself? No worries. Just bring the kit to your trusted mechanic, and they can install it for you. You get the confidence of knowing quality parts are on your vehicle, without having to do the dirty work. Now that’s smart.

You may also be able to diagnose or address some other issues yourself before even seeing a mechanic by reading some of these articles:

After reading this article and using our tips, you’ll be on your way to becoming a road tripping pro! For true road trip beginners, larger trips can seem daunting, so it’s important to start with shorter trips and work your way up to longer trips as you become more comfortable and familiar with taking road trips. With a little bit of planning and preparation, road trips can be an excellent way to go on your next adventure. You never know what cool and unexpected things you might see along the way. Go ahead and pack your bags, grab your crew, and get out there!

Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to reach out – we are here to help!

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