couples road trip

A Couples Road Trip: The Ultimate Survival Guide (With Fun Ideas)

If you’re here, I assume you’re either planning a couples road trip with your significant other or you’re already on one.

I also assume you’ll agree with me when I say: 

A road trip for couples is not always easy, even for the most experienced partners!

Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your road trip date goes smoothly for both of you. You should always enjoy a road trip with your boyfriend (or girlfriend).

In this survival guide, I’ll share 17 road trip ideas for couples to keep the adventure a happy one this Summer.

The open road can be a fun and exciting place where you can make amazing memories together. However, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared with these road trip essentials for couples!

couples road trip
Road-tripping up the East Coast of Australia in our van

17 Tips For Taking A Couples Road Trip

I love taking a road trip with my girlfriend. She is my favorite travel buddy!

Traveling as a couple can be so much fun – it keeps your relationship exciting as you explore.

That being said, a couples road trip can sometimes be a test for you both, especially as you’re often confined to the same small space for long periods of time. We’ve definitely had our ups and downs!

These 17 simple steps have helped us over the years. Now they can help you too! Follow them and you and your partner will enjoy your epic adventure together, stress-free.

1. Plan These Road Trip Essentials For Couples Together So You’re Both Involved

Road Trip Essentials For Couples
Plan Your Couples Road Trip

A road trip is different from a regular vacation. In my experience, they often require more planning.

In that respect, it’s important to plan your road trip together (we created an ultimate guide to road trip essentials for couples).

Why is this important?

Well, your trip is a team effort, let’s face it, you’re both going to be spending some serious time in the car. For that reason, you should both have some input.

By planning together, you can also both get excited together! You’re taking a vacation with your favorite person, it’s time to get pumped.

When I road tripped up the East Coast of Australia with my girlfriend, Jorden, we made sure we each picked our must-do activities. Even though we didn’t have the exact same priorities, we made time to see them all. And it was A LOT of fun.

Road Trip Essentials For Couples

Plan everything together.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • Your route and where your stops will be
  • Your road trip packing list – don’t forget anything!
  • The tasty road trip food ideas you are going to prepare
  • What you will do for Road Trip Entertainment – everything from games to music.

Make sure to take a look at our Best Road Trip Planner Apps article for recommendations on the best apps to get started with planning!

That being said…

2. Don’t Plan Your Couples Road Trip Too Much!

Possibly my favorite tip in this list… Don’t plan too much!

One of the best things about a road trip is the flexibility and spontaneity! Know your overall plan and your major stops, but be ready to see something on a whim. You’re bound to read or hear about something awesome.

Why shouldn’t you make time for it?

Road trips give you the freedom to chop and change your plans when you want to, that’s what makes them so exciting.

Planning a couples road trip
Hiking with my girlfriend Jorden on a road trip

3. Include Road Trip Date Nights To Keep Things Fresh

couples road trip date night
Date Nights Keep Things Fresh

Any couple that has been together a while will know that date nights are a lot of fun and important for keeping relationships fresh.

The good news?

Your road trip doesn’t have to put a stop to that!

Enjoying Your Time Together and Avoiding a Mundane Routine

Let’s face it, the road can get boring. There are always stretches of long, straight, uninteresting road, with not much going on to look at.

The last thing you want to do is fall into a routine of getting up, driving, eating, driving and so on, forgetting that you took this trip together for a reason.

Enjoy your time together and take time out to spend quality time with one another.

Finding Exciting Date Locations On The Road

Look for exciting places like cities along your route, where you can have a nice dinner and dress up if you want to. If you’re taking a road trip through slightly more remote terrain, find a nice secluded setting for a romantic picnic, like a deserted beach.

This may only apply to you if you’re taking a longer trip, but make sure to make time for each other, and not to get carried away with executing the trip plan. 

couples road trip tips
Our City Date Night During Our Couples Road Trip

4. Support Each Other

You might not always think your better half has the best ideas but agreeing and compromising can go a long way toward making your trip a happy one.

Studies show that being supportive is essential to a happy relationship.

Your patience and ability to support your partner will undoubtedly be tested during your road trip. But, whether it’s simply saying “Good idea, why not?” or agreeing to disagree, try to compromise and support them.

How To Support Each Other

Discuss Disagreements

Disagreement shouldn’t ruin your trip.

Quite the opposite, your couples road trip is a great opportunity to strengthen your relationship as you discuss your decisions in an agreeable way.

Talk to your partner about your side of things, and listen to what they have to say.

Be Flexible With Your Partner

Flexibility is important.

Sure, road trips have long, dull parts. They tend to make the best of us impatient at times. However, don’t hassle your partner just to save a few minutes.

If they need a break, or are taking what feels like an age to get ready or want to stop to see something they’ve spotted out of the window, just let them do it.

Planning stops and timings in advance is a great idea, as we’ve already discussed, but one of the joys of a road trip is the flexibility that comes with it. Be open with your plans, especially on longer trips.

And finally…

Let Things Go

Be ready to forgive any mistakes your partner might make. People make them, and you will no doubt make a few during your road trip.

Mistakes are an easy way for an argument to start up, so make a conscious effort to avoid this.

Try to frame mishaps caused by mistakes as part of the adventure. Chances are, they could lead to one of the funnier stories you tell all your friends when you’re back from your trip!

5. Create a Budget and Stick to it So Finances Aren’t a Burden

Finances can be a serious strain on relationships for couples; we all know that the money pressures of daily life can cause tension.

For this reason, it’s a shrewd idea to create a road trip budget and avoid any unnecessary stress.

Some vacations are easy to budget for; you rock up to the travel agent and hand over a lump sum for a package holiday. Road trips, however, can be a little more difficult to account for.

Take budgeting more seriously than this!

How To Create a Budget

To make your budget as realistic and as accurate as possible, do as much research as you can in advance.  

Factor in how much you will spend on gas, food, accommodation, and activities.

Bear in mind that each day of your trip will probably be different. Some days may involve several hours plowing it down the highway.

Others might involve hiking and chilling at the campsite!

Therefore:

The best way to create a budget is to try and work out the costs for your whole trip, instead of trying to create a daily budget.

Resources For Road Trip Budgeting

There are numerous useful resources out there that can help with your budget and cost estimates.

Budgeting for Unforeseen Costs

It may also be wise to Budget extra for unforeseen costs.

This could include medical bills, booking cancellations, or general mishaps!

Including this in your budget will ensure any hiccups and unforeseen costs don’t put a strain on your relationship!

While we’re talking money, you might also like these articles:

Slide 1
How to Save Money on a Road trip (11 Super Simple Tips)
Rental Car Tips – Ultimate Guide to Saving Money
How To Save Money For Travel – A Fool-Proof Strategy for Anyone

6. Take Regular Rest Stops To Avoid Unnecessary Tension

road trip ideas for couples
Take Breaks On Your Couples Road Trip

Road trip ideas for couples will always keep things interesting. However, there always comes a point when you’ve been driving for hours, you’re getting restless and you just want to arrive at your destination.

These moments can create tension, and not stopping can swiftly cause the mood in the car to change.

To counteract this, make a point of pulling over and taking regular rest stops. Take some time to unwind and stretch your legs before getting back in the car.

After all, a road trip isn’t a race, you should be enjoying yourself as you go.

Why Planning Rest Stops in Advance is Important

An even smarter idea is to plan your stops in advance.

By this, I don’t mean simply researching the main stops along your route (we’ll get to this in the next section). This means finding places to stop and rest to avoid driving for long periods.

It’s one thing to agree that stops are necessary and to have the intention to find somewhere.

But what if somewhere suitable doesn’t come along when you’ve had enough of driving?

This could cause further frustration.

How To Find Rest Stops

Use iExit to locate the best places to stop on your journey.

It’s an excellent resource that uses your location on the highway and shows you what rest stops are available in the area.

A little research and some scheduled stops can keep you both feeling fresh and motivated.

7. Plan Your Major Stops and Activities

road trip tips for couples
The Open Road

Plan out the major stops along the way and your “must-do” activities and ensure these are factored into your plan and budget.

Why is this so important?

Because you can’t possibly see and do everything on every trip you take, regardless of your level of FOMO.

Trying to do so, is a sure-fire way to make you feel grumpy and potentially start a fight with your partner when you should be enjoying the activities you are doing!

For this reason, don’t cram too much into your plan.

As you can probably tell, I like to go with the flow.

Prioritizing The Most Important Sites

The key is to prioritize those things that are most important to you both.

Often these stops and activities are one of the main reasons for your road trip in the first place.

Why would you not see the Grand Canyon if it’s the main reason for your California road trip?!

You can keep any activities or places you’ve sacrificed to one side, and visit them if you have any leftover time or money. Or, if you absolutely loved your trip, and really feel like you missed out on something, you can always plan a return trip!

When I go on road trips with Jorden, we always make sure to see both of our “top priority” attractions. I hate to admit it, but I usually have a great time at hers too.

couples road trip
I’ve seen worse views…

8. Work As A Team To Be More Effective

Don’t try to do everything yourself during the trip, there are 2 of you, after all!

Likewise, don’t leave all the responsibility to your partner, as they may begin to resent the fact that you’re getting an easy ride.

The most effective (and fun) way to handle a road trip is to work as a team. This will also prevent any fights caused by one person feeling they’ve been more responsible.

Complete Separate Tasks

Don’t get hung up on splitting all the tasks totally equally. It doesn’t matter one bit who has done what.

For example, if one of you does all the driving, the other will be helping navigate.

Even simply staying alert while your partner drives is helpful, and creates the atmosphere that you’re working together.

The key is that you both contribute something. Work together, and things will be a lot easier.

9. Pack Everything You Need for Your Couples Road Trip

I know we’ve already discussed how important planning is, but making sure you have all your couples road trip essentials will really help to keep your road trip running smoothly.

It’s extremely frustrating when you realize you don’t have something and you’re way into your trip.

It’s also far too easy to take it out on your poor loved one. Ensure nothing is left behind and take everything you need.

Easier said than done, right?

Packing everything for a couples road trip
Create A Packing List

Create A Packing List

Packing can seem like a mammoth task! What exactly do you need? And how do you get it all in the car?! Packing for a road trip is not like packing for a regular vacation. There is so much to consider.

I’ve written an extensive road trip packing list, to ensure you don’t forget a thing and cause any unnecessary tension between yourself and your better half.

10. Take Snacks to Avoid Getting Hangry

This might sound obvious but packing snacks for your couples road trip is a must.  

Deciding what food to pack for your trip can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Take a look at this list of road trip food ideas for the best snack ideas.

Not only does being hangry lead to arguments, but snacking is one of the best things about taking a road trip!

In all seriousness, try to take some healthy snacks with you too, or you may end up feeling sluggish and tired.

11. Take Some (Temporary) Time Apart

Traveling as a couple means spending a lot of time together, especially on a road trip. It can be far too easy to get on top of one another when you’re always in close quarters.

Personally, I think it pays to be open to doing things separately, even if just for a short while.

You may think be thinking:

“What are you talking about? I want to spend every minute with my loved one!”

But enjoying some valuable alone time can be key to the smooth running of your couples road trip. You don’t spend every second together when you’re not traveling, so why should you when you’re away?

Taking some time to ‘uncouple’ means you’ll be feeling refreshed and excited when the two of you set off together again.

Enjoying Different Activities

This is the perfect opportunity to take part in some of those activities that you just could not agree on earlier!

If you really want to catch a movie, but your partner just isn’t into it, this is your chance to go and do exactly that! Want to go and exercise but your partner just isn’t interested today? Leave them reading a book or having a cold beer while you work up a sweat.

You can happily meet up later.

You can even tell each other about what you’ve been up to. It’s totally ok – even healthy – for couples to spend some time apart during their trips.

After all, you must have a few different interests, right?

12. Invite Others Along To Liven Things Up

Inviting friends along
A Road Trip With Friends Is Always Fun

We love to invite friends and other couples along for a part of our trips. We’ll often meet a friend for a couple of weeks, continue alone for a while and then meet more friends for another week or so.

This can obviously take some juggling and compromise.

However, we frequently find we have friends who are excited to see a small portion of the wider trip we’re doing, and who are keen to make a meet-up happen.

But why is this so important for a road-tripping couple?

Inviting others along for a part of your road trip adds a freshness to the trip. Not only is it another exciting thing to look forward to, but it gets you into conversations with different people about new topics.

Don’t get me wrong, myself and my girlfriend can natter away for HOURS, but meeting up with people along the way can make the trip more stimulating for you both.

13. Do Something Fun During the Drive So You Don’t Get Bored

Don’t let boredom set in!

It’s certainly not something you want when you’re taking a road trip with your significant other. Thankfully, there are numerous fun things for couples to do on a road trip!

Listen to a Playlist

Ensure you download at least one playlist before you set off on your road trip.

Not only do you NEED your road trip playlist ready to belt out with the windows down, building your playlist together is a great way to get excited before you go! You’ll be in the car a lot, so make sure you have some classics to listen to.

One of my favorite playlists to listen to is Classic Road Trip Songs on Spotify. It’s full of legendary tunes that you won’t be able to resist belting out together.

Listen to a Podcast

Listening to a podcast not only kills some time, but it’s also a great way to stay stimulated during long drives and to ignite an interesting conversation with your partner.

Download some podcasts that sound interesting to you prior to departing.

Recommended Podcasts

2 of my favorite podcasts are:

  • How I Built This – this podcast tells the story of how some of the most famous and interesting companies were born. Innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists come onto the show to talk about and the movements they built.
  • The Joe Rogan Experience – this podcast is a long-form conversation hosted by comedian Joe Rogan who is extremely entertaining and always seems to ask the right questions. Guests range from actors to musicians to scientists and beyond.
Discussing Podcasts

When you do listen, take away the interesting points and talk them through with your other half after.

You’ll probably find you picked out different parts, and this could lead to some great topics to talk about.

Listen to an Audiobook

As with podcasts, audiobooks are a superb means of staying stimulated whilst driving. This is especially true for longer journeys.

Why not download one of your favorite books or a new book you think sounds appealing ready for your journey?

Listening to an audiobook
Where To Find Audiobooks

Audible is my favorite resource for Audiobooks, mainly due to the ridiculously wide selection available. You can try it for free first to see if you like it and listen to books through the app when on the go.

Play Some Couples Road Trip Games

There are countless road trip games out there. We’ve outlined all the road trip games specifically for couples!

Playing one of these games can be a fun way to pass some time, interact with one another and – dare I say it – maybe even get a little competitive.

Ask Each Other Questions

Ignite the conversation with some road trip questions for couples.

A road trip is the perfect setting to have lively new conversations that you wouldn’t ordinarily have at home. By asking each other questions on your road trip, you can find out some interesting things about your partner that you might not have known before!

14. Don’t Let Directions Cause an Argument on Your Couples Road Trip

Using GPS

Don’t let the directions get the better of you!

Navigating is tough. Particularly in cities, with one-way roads, crossings, etc etc. Even with all the navigation technology that is available these days, giving out the right directions is still hard if you’re traveling a long way!

Directions Can Be A Nightmare

If you’re anything like myself and my girlfriend, directions are one of our most sensitive subjects and have been the cause of many an argument over the years.

When you do happen to take a wrong turning, don’t lash out at your partner/navigator for the day. Be patient.

Likewise, if you’re playing passenger, don’t criticize whoever is driving. It’s highly unlikely to improve the situation.

Use a GPS To Avoid Arguing

I personally recommend simply using a GPS system with the audio turned up so you can both hear it. That way, no-one is responsible when you are inevitably taken down the wrong road.

Remember, getting (temporarily) lost is all part of the adventure that is taking a road trip.

My preferred navigation apps are Google Maps and Maps.me.

Maps.me is great as it is all offline so you don’t need data to use it – perfect for travel through remote areas!

Alternatively, you could include a standalone GPS system within your road trip packing list.

15. Don’t Wait Until the Last Second to Fill Up on Gas

It’s an awful feeling to be driving along an empty highway, nothing in sight for miles, and the gas light comes on. No-one wants to be stranded in the middle of nowhere.

This is likely to cause panic and stress between you both.

Luckily for you guys, it’s easily avoidable!  Avoid wasting precious time, money and energy sorting out a breakdown, and fill up before you’re even close to empty!

How To Find Gas Stations

Gas Buddy is a great resource that will show you gas stations in the area, and even let you compare prices so you can save money!

16. Don’t Bring Up Sensitive Topics

A couple’s road trip involves spending a hefty amount of time, just the two of you. It most certainly is not the time to bring up anything you know to be sensitive between you.

Trust me, unless you want to spend the next few hundred miles in frosty silence, keep the conversation topics happy and lighthearted.

You’re on vacation together after all!

You’re bound to have some bickering or small disagreements, but stop them from escalating into anything personal. Your road trip will be way better for it!

17. Don’t Use Your Phone

Cell phones cause distractions on a road trip

Believe it or not, this doesn’t just apply to those driving!

Don’t constantly play on your phone while your other half is driving! It’s not fun for the driver if you’re just messaging away. They might as well be driving alone.

Obviously, you don’t have to do anything drastic, like lock your phone away in the back.

Instead, try to use apps that are interactive for both of you, such as road trip game apps, quizzes, Spotify, and podcasts.

Did You Survive Your Couples Road Trip?

Now you’re ready for an awesome couples road trip with your partner, but I’d still love to hear from you!

Which point was the most helpful for you?

Do you have any other advice for taking a road trip as a couple?

Either way, leave a comment below and let me know!