How to Create a Car Trip

Many films and television shows have explored the horrors of a bad car trip, but they don't have to be unpleasant. If you plan ahead, consider the needs of passengers, allow for the unexpected and view the drive as part of the trip instead of just wasted time between destinations, a car trip can be part of a memorable vacation or a great memory all on its own.


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    Plan ahead. A good car trip requires that you research your route carefully, balancing the shortest way with one that has pleasant scenery, access to gas, food and places to sleep, as well as the possibility of visiting interesting places along the way.
    • Use a website with a mapping service, such as Map quest or Google Maps. Enter the starting address and destination address, then request driving directions. Print them out. If you're given a choice to add maps, print those as well. You want as much information as you can get.
    • Check the driving directions against a recently published road atlas to make sure they're correct. Study the atlas to see if you might want to alter your route slightly.
    • For instance, travelers along Interstate 10 in Louisiana can avoid driving through New Orleans by taking Interstate 12 for a while, but New Orleans is much more interesting than miles and miles of swampland--or maybe not, depending on the interests of the people accompanying you on the trip.
    • Divide your trip into legs of 300 or 600 miles (480 or 970 km), depending on the ages of the passengers and how long they are able to tolerate sitting in the car between stops. A 600-mile drive allows you to have breakfast before getting on the road and arrive at your next overnight stop in time to settle in and relax before dinner.
    • Visit the websites of the hotels you prefer and find those that are nearest to where you will stop overnight. Write down their addresses and phone numbers, and make reservations. You may want to make sure the hotel has a restaurant so you can be assured of getting a good dinner and breakfast the next morning.
    • If you prefer to use a particular brand of gas, find gas stations along the route and mark their locations. Gas stations are not hard to find if you don't have a preference
    • Occasionally, gas stations can be sparse. For instance, in desert in the southwestern United States, you may go a hundred miles or more between gas stations. You may find warnings in road atlas about these areas, or you will see signs along the way.
    • Look for tourist destinations within a few miles of your route, and plan to make detours to see them. This will give everyone a chance to stretch their legs, take photos and have a little fun. Although your trip will be longer, you will enjoy it much more.
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    Pack carefully. Don't bring so many things that you and your passengers are crowded. They should be able to shift position when they want to, which means that there shouldn't be bags and boxes in the floorboards or between the seats. Allow your passengers to bring along pillows, jackets, books and other items for comfort and entertainment, but restrict the amount.
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    Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks in case you don't find stores or restaurants along the way.
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    Resist the urge to keep to a strict schedule, to "drive straight through" or minimize rest stops. When your passengers get restless and start complaining or arguing, it's time to take a break. Allow them to take turns in the front seat or let someone else drive.
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    Assume that some things will not go as planned, and don't get stressed when they do. Sometimes the little disasters you experience on a road trip give you the best stories to tell and the best memories.


  • The best purchase you can make for a car trip is a Global Positioning System, or GPS, unit. You can program a GPS with the addresses of each leg's destination, which will help you find your way without trying to read a map while driving. It can also help you get back on your route after taking a detour and find restaurants, stores and gas stations.
  • You may find it worthwhile to become a member of an organization like the American Automobile Association, or AAA. AAA can help you plan your route and supply you with detailed road maps. You can also call AAA if you run into car trouble during your trip.


  • Don't embark on a multi-day car trip without first taking your car in for maintenance. Have the mechanic check the engine and tires, and stock up on fluids in case you need them during your trip. Learn how to change your car's tire.

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Categories: Road & Rail Travel