Summertime is the perfect time to relax on the beach with an umbrella, a cold beverage, and of course one of those tiny beach chairs. My wife and I recently shared this thought, but immediately followed it up with “How are we going to get there?”
We are both fresh out of college so we decided to save some money and drive rather than fly. We talked about the many things that could go wrong, but also how to simply make the best of the long drive. Hopefully our tips for planning a painless road trip will help you plan your next vacation because, let’s face it, it can be very long, difficult, and sometimes quite boring to sit in the car for so many hours.
Directions – Seems a bit obvious right? You need to know how to get to your destination. But GOOD directions can really make those hours of driving so much easier. Instead of relying on those ten-year-old directions from the in-laws, we decided to go a bit more high-tech with the Google Maps app. It’s more than capable of doing the job, and it’s free to download. The real-time updates really made a difference: knowing which ramp to take, what it looked like and how soon it was coming up helped us avoid those last-minute “Uh oh, do I take the North or the South exit?” mishaps.
Night or Day? – One thing we were not sure about was whether we should drive during the night or during the day, so we did both (newlywed compromising in action). On the way to our destination, we drove through the night. Driving through the Appalachian Mountains at 4 a.m., in the fog, was definitely not the most pleasant part of the journey. However, the lack of traffic was awesome, unlike the way back home where we seemed to drive from one traffic jam into the other. There was no clear “win” here; the best time to travel really depends on your personal preferences.
Safety First – I know it’s been said a million times but for good reason. We really struggled with staying awake, especially when we drove through the night. I admit that I drove longer than I should have. There’s nothing wrong with pulling over at a rest stop to nap for a couple of hours. Getting to your destination a little sooner isn’t worth the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
Come Prepared – We all (hopefully) have car insurance but quite often, many people are unaware of what is actually covered. Before you get in the car for that long trip, it wouldn’t hurt to check whether or not your insurance policy actually covers things like towing charges or rental vehicle. A quick call to your insurance agent can grant you peace of mind!
Simply putting a little thought into your travel plan will go a long way toward your goal of a stress-free trip. I hope that all you summer travelers out there will get to your destination and back safely, and enjoy that hard-earned vacation! Do you have any other suggestions for ways to plan ahead and create a trouble-free trip?