How to Plan a Road Trip

Updated June 16, 2020.

Who’s up for a road trip? We are! My husband Steve and I have a unique opportunity to travel a bit this month. We don’t need to accrue any more money or mileage for next year’s airline status, so we decided to take a road trip from Washington, D.C., to Jacksonville, FL, to visit Steve’s niece and her family for a few days! I’ll be honest, I hate driving and would always prefer to fly, but even I can handle the occasional road trip! We leave tomorrow, so be sure to follow @quickwhittravel on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Here are the four steps to planning the perfect road trip!

 1. Map It

First things first: find the best route! Grab your phone, your laptop, or a good old-fashioned paper map. If you’re using a paper map, calculate your time by bearing in mind that you’ll be going around 65 miles per hour; if you’re using back roads, that’ll be more like an average of 40 miles per hour. If you’re using a mapping app, it will calculate the time for you!

When you figure out how long the whole trip should take without stops, decide how long you want to drive and start testing the times and distances of cities along the way.

Choose the best route for you, keeping in mind you might want to stop at interesting places along the way.
Essential info: How to Read a Map

 2. Find Your Stopping Points

It’s very important to schedule some stops to stretch your legs and walk around. Stop for bathroom breaks and meals as necessary, but also plan on having a little fun on the way. Whether you’ll be stopping at an obscure museum for a couple of hours or overnight, have a mini destination to look forward to and break up the monotony of driving.

When we started planning our road trip with about 4 days’ notice, we knew we wanted to break up the 10- to 11-hour drive with an overnight stay both on the way there and on the way back. So we pulled out the map to see what interesting cities are about half way between DC and Jacksonville. We decided to go just a little more than half way on the way down to Florida, and Myrtle Beach, SC, fits that bill. For the ride home, Wilmington, NC, is right at the halfway point and is supposed to be a cute town with lots of history and interesting things to do. We have a winner!

So thankful this cutie pie did most of the driving!

3. Mode of Transportation

If you feel most comfortable using your own vehicle (or riding along with someone else), you can do it! If you’d rather not put the miles or wear and tear on your car, or if your vehicle gets poor gas mileage, or you’re just not sure your car will make it on a long road trip, consider a rental car. We are actually using a loaner car from the car dealership because my husband’s car is in the shop–we were sort of upset about it at first, but then we realized it’s pretty great timing!

Accidental convertible for our road trip to Florida!

4. Keep These Things in Mind

Road trips are great because you don’t have to worry about TSA lines, missed flights, or keeping your liquids under three ounces, but there are some things to remember for a successful road trip experience:

  • Oil changes
  • Regular maintenance
  • Not running out of gas
  • Tire pressure and tread (especially for longer road trips or in cold temperatures)
  • Weather on your way to or when you arrive at your destination
  • Snacks (because sometimes you get hungry)
  • Water (because “I don’t want to have to stop and pee” is not a good excuse for dehydration)
  • Compromising with your travel buddies (read What to Know About Your Travel Buddy)

Where have you road tripped? Where have you wanted to take a road trip? What are you waiting for!

Get all my best planning tips over on my Travel Planning Page, and even more on my Travel Tips Page!

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5 responses to “How to Plan a Road Trip”

  1. […] my least favorite travel detail: rental cars. I do not like to drive, I’m not a fan of road trips, and I’d rather just be able to walk everywhere we go, but sometimes that’s just not […]

  2. Jackie Arevalo Avatar

    Hi Whitney! I just got back from a road trip to Michigan (13+ hours one way) with my son John, also to see family. We also broke it up both ways. John is very spontaneous and it always up for something new, quirky or interesting. We stopped for those kinds of things. (We made a u-turn because we saw a big sign that said PIE!😂) We also made a rule, no eating at places we can eat at in Northern Virginia. Although, due to covid, we found that challenging at times. He’s an amazing conversationalist, the radio never came on once the whole time. Nobody napped or read a book. We just talked and laughed the whole time. Road trips can be awesome.

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      WOW! I’m truly impressed and so glad y’all had such a good time!

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