15 Tips for the Perfect Summer Road Trip

PHOTO: Two women driving together in a car. (photo via UberImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Patrick Clarke
by Patrick Clarke
Last updated: 9:00 AM ET, Mon April 30, 2018

Do Your Road Trip Right

A summer road trip is a great way to see more for less and there's no shortage of stellar destinations to explore. No matter where you're headed, preparation is vital to ensuring your trip goes smooth. Follow these 15 tips for the perfect journey.

Plan Ahead

It sounds obvious, sure, but planning ahead is vital to any successful road trip. In addition to mapping out your journey, you'll want to avoid congested roadways around busy holiday travel days and see what events are taking place at each stop along the way so you can allow some extra time.

Rent With Enterprise

Need a ride or an upgrade for your trip? Enterprise Rent-A-Car boasts thousands of locations across North America and is offering special discounts on one-way car rentals from Florida and Arizona with rates as low as $9.99 per day for reservations made now through the end of May. Plus, they offer a variety of vehicles to suit your preference, including SUVs and convertibles.

Head South to Save

Budget-conscious road trippers should make plans to drive through the South this summer as it's the most affordable region in the U.S. when it comes to gas prices, tolls, and lodging. Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas each rank in the top 10 for summer road trip costs, based on WalletHub's most-recent research. GasBuddy's fuel insights agree.

Pack a Mobile Hotspot

You never know when you might need to access the internet and in the event that your smartphone isn't enough, a mobile hotspot can free you up to get online from your laptop and other devices without having to leave the car.

Stay Safe in New England

If safety is your top priority, consider a summer road trip through New England. According to WalletHub, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire rank top five among the 50 states in terms of safety, which takes into account driving laws, quality of roads and bridges and fatalities, among other aspects.

Double Check Your Tires

Purchase a tire pressure gauge for cheap so you know where you stand ahead of time and use the penny test to ensure you've got enough tread on your tires. Remember, if part of Abraham Lincoln's head is covered, you're good to go.

Bring a Cooler

In addition to keeping your favorite drinks nice and cold, a cooler can preserve all the food you love that would otherwise go bad at room temperature. Just be sure to stop to replace the ice.

Stop by the Grocery Store Before You Leave

You'll definitely want to stop and try new restaurants along the way. However, traveling with snacks is key to cutting costs, maintaining energy and ensuring you won't have to pull over more than you'd like. Grab some bottled water also to avoid paying extra at gas stations and convenience stores.

The West Coast is Where the Fun's At

If you covet scenic shoreline, beautiful weather, world-class nightlife, national parks and other attractions, head to the West Coast this summer. According to WalletHub, California, Washington, Oregon and Nevada are the four best states for summer road trip activities.

Don't Forget About Fluids

In addition to having plenty of fuel in the tank, you'll want to make sure your vehicle is filled up with other critical fluids, including oil, transmission fluid and coolant. If driving your own vehicle, be sure to keep up on regularly scheduled maintenance, including oil changes.

Create a Playlist

Music is the perfect complement to driving and let's face it, not every portion of your drive is going to be exciting. Creating a playlist of your favorite songs ahead of time will ensure your mood stays positive without having to waste time scanning through fuzzy radio stations.

Pack a Roadside Emergency Kit

Unfortunately, breakdowns happen. So pack a roadside emergency kit just in case. This should consist of items like a blanket, a flashlight, flares, long jumper cables and a tow rope. Packing extra water and snacks won't hurt either, even if you're lucky enough not to encounter any mechanical issues on your trip.

The Exit Ramp is Your Friend

Unless you've got lots of distance to cover in a short amount of time, look for opportunities to get off of the highway and really dive into a new destination. GPS should keep you from getting lost but there's also no harm in asking for directions. Plus, some added miles off of your planned route could lead to discovering your new favorite restaurant or a charming small town you didn't know existed.

Look for Alternative Accommodations

Accommodation costs can really add up depending on the length of your trip. Therefore, try to plan your route through places where family and friends live to cut down on costs. You can also consider camping (most tents are extremely compact) or last-minute booking apps to save on nightly room rates if you haven't already made reservations ahead of time.

See the Signs

There's a lot to watch for when traveling new roads for the first time, especially if you're the one driving. Nonetheless, road signs are your best friend. After all, nothing spoils a trip like an expensive speeding ticket, unexpected delays or running out of gas. Keep your eyes peeled and you'll know exactly how fast to go, which road to take and when you'll need to stop.

Follow these tips to ensure more fun than roadblocks on your summer road trip.

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me