The windows are down, the sunglasses are on, and the stereo’s playing just the right song. With spring break fast approaching, you’re probably feeling the urge for some good old-fashioned road adventures.
Whether you’re a seasoned road warrior or more of a long-distance dreamer, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you celebrate spring break with the greatest road trip ever.
Plotting the journey
On the road, robots are your friends. Once you’ve decided how many days you want your trip to last, there are excellent, free route planners online. Google Maps and navigation apps will help you plot your points of interest.
Getting lost has its own kind of romantic charm, but it’s the kind some drivers can do without. GPS navigation systems are more affordable now than ever before, and are invaluable on unfamiliar roads. An updated GPS will give you the freshest maps so that you can choose between scenic drives and highways. And as glorious as technologies are, don’t underestimate the value of packing an old-school road atlas.
While planning is wise, do it loosely. Understand that traffic happens, tires flatten, and turns are missed. Leaving plenty of time between destinations to explore new places and visit campy roadside attractions will help you embrace the journey rather than focus on the destination. As Lao Tsu once said, “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
Paying your way
Road trippers of yore enjoyed lower gas prices and fewer tolls. Road trips can be an economical alternative to other kinds of vacations, but the costs of driving long distances today can really start to add up. The route planners we mentioned earlier will note any tolls, and AAA has an easy fuel cost calculator that helps budget gas costs based on your particular car and driving route.
You can hash out the expenses with your passengers in advance to avoid potentially awkward situations during your trip. If you’re renting a car or Winnebago, or bunking together in hotels, factor in those costs as well.
If your tank is full and your tummy isn’t, you’re going to have a problem. Instead of rest stops and fast food joints, try the cuisine that’s unique to where you are. What you eat is key to your cruising comfort, and it fuels the stories you’ll share about the trip later.
Next to the driver, the most important post on this voyage is the navigator. This shotgun-riding passenger has the best seat in the house, with the second-highest degree of responsibility. Anyone vying for this position should be willing to accept full control of route directing, GPS setting, phone answering, drink opening, button pressing, music managing, and anything else that eliminates driver distraction.
Remember, your fellow travelers are what will make or break a legendary road trip. You’re about to spend a lot of time in very close quarters together, so be sure the chemistry’s right.
Long car rides have long periods of down time, so keep the good times rolling with some music and car games.
You’ll want to spend some time building up the soundtrack to your ride and inviting your travel buddies to do the same. To get you started, we’ve compiled a driving playlist based on our fans’ and associates’ favorite driving ditties. Build off this list and add in a few comedy albums or audiobooks to keep everyone in high spirits:
- Allman Brothers – Ramblin’ Man
- Metallica – Turn the Page
- Audioslave – I Am the Highway
- Eve 6 – Open Road Song
- Ray Charles – Hit the Road, Jack!
- Willie Nelson – On the Road Again
- Tom Petty – Free Fallin’
- Charlie Ryan – Hot Rod Lincoln
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Road Trippin’
- Ella Fitzgerald – One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)
- Incubus – Drive
- Bowling for Soup – I Gotchoo
- AC/DC – Highway to Hell
- Sammy Hagar – I Can’t Drive 55
- Steppenwolf – Born to be Wild
- Tom Cochrane – Life is a Highway
- Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
- Black Crowes – Soul Singing
- Fastball – The Way
- A Tribe Called Quest – I Left My Wallet in El Segundo
- Mike Doughty – American Car
- Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere
- Beatles – The Long and Winding Road
- Tony Bennett – The Rules of the Road
- Prince – Little Red Corvette
You’ll learn quickly that anything can happen on the open road. Before piling into the car, it’s wise to have a fresh oil change and car checkup done. When unavoidable surprises pop up, knowing how to change a tire or jump start a car can quickly make you a hero. Pack a well-stocked emergency kit complete with phone chargers and water, and have your roadside assistance and car and health insurance information easily accessible.
You’re ready to roll! Now we want to hear from you.
This guide can get you started, but the specifics are entirely up to you. We’d love to hear about the awesomeness of your trip! Share your stories with us as well as your road trip nuggets of wisdom on our Facebook wall or on Twitter.
Happy road tripping!