After thousands of miles on the road, I’ve created this essential list of the best road trip tips and tricks to help you ahead of your journey.
Nothing beats the thrill of setting out onto the open road and cranking up the music. It’s one of my favorite ways to explore a new place. The flexibility to stop whenever you come across somewhere interesting is what makes it such an adventure!
These tips for long road trips will prepare you for anything you might face. Get inspired, get prepared, and hit the road with a smile after learning how to take a road trip!
This road trip advice article is the ultimate quick-fire checklist for you to work through before you set off on your adventure.
If you need some great road travel tips and information, this is the blog post for you.
1. Work through a road trip car checklist
The last thing you want during your trip is to have problems with your car! You want to make sure you know how to prepare your car for a road trip
The week before you set off is a great time to check over your vehicle. This gives you enough time to get any issues sorted in advance of your departure.
This really is one of the key road trip tips you need to remember to avoid misery whilst on your journey!
The key things I recommend are:
- Make sure the car has had a recent service.
- Check the oil, water, tire pressure, and lights.
- Check the road tax, insurance and road legality of the vehicle are in date and you have the correct documents.
- Give the car a great clean!
- Check windscreen fluid.
You should also make sure you have purchased a Roadside Emergency Kit to prepare for the unexpected stops!
These tips are key for making your road trip better!
2. Follow a road trip packing list
Having everything you need will make your road trip much more enjoyable. Whilst over-preparation can spoil the adventure, there are some Road Trip Accessories you don’t want to be without whilst powering down the open road!
An item that really helped me was the iOttie Wireless Charging Phone Mount which allows you to keep your mobile accessible whilst charging in your vehicle.
If you need a budget alternative the Anker Car Charger works great.
Take some time the week before to go over these road trip tips to make sure you have all your gear sorted. Preparation is key!
The main items to consider before a road trip are:
- Camping/outdoor equipment
- Car accessories
- Personal care items and toiletries
- Things to keep it fun such as an Audible Free Trial!
You can read our full Road Trip Packing List and tick things off with the printable checklist.
3. Plan a road trip itinerary that doesn’t involve too much driving
When you are researching your itinerary, it’s easy to try to fit in too much. Although driving scenic routes is fun, overdoing the driving hours will affect the enjoyment of your road trip.
That’s why one of my best road trip tips is to plan an itinerary that doesn’t involve too much driving.
Plan multiple stops where you stay more than one night so you have time to relax and really enjoy the different locations and attractions.
Check out our full article on how to Plan a Road Trip
4. Give your car a thorough clean before the trip
When you are spending a long time in your car then the last thing you want is for it not to be clean! Give your vehicle a proper tidy prior to departure on your road trip.
Keeping the car organized will give you peace of mind whilst on your fun journey.
Something to help with this is the Knodel Car Trunk Organizer.
5. Consider camping as part of your trip
Getting out into nature is one of the best parts of a road trip. Consider camping or sleeping in the car so that you can see the best of the open road.
6. Create an awesome road trip music playlist
No one likes road traveling- in silence, right? Make sure you have built an awesome playlist full of the best road trip songs ahead of departure. You could also consider listening to an audiobook or podcast using this Free Trial For Audible!
7. Book in a few trip highlights to get excited about
Setting a budget and controlling most costs allows you to splash out on a couple of treats during your trip. Make sure you use a route planner to identify a few highlights on the way.
When I’m on a road trip, I use GetYourGuide to find fun events and attractions along the route.
8. Learn the rules of the road if you are driving abroad
Ensure that you have read up on the highway code for the country you are road tripping in! You can access information on the AA if you are in Europe. For the USA there are government websites that cover this.
Keeping safe whilst behind the wheel sure is one of the top road trip tips to keep in mind.
9. Get the best value on your rental car
If you are flying into a destination and renting a car, its important to get the best deal. A few Rental Car Tips can go a long way in saving you money.
Always book in advance and consider pickup locations other than the airport. Ensure you understand the insurance fully and always remember to return the car with a full tank! Check out Rental Cars for a quote on your vehicle!
10. Find the cheapest parking in your destinations
Parking can be one of the biggest expenses of a road trip if you aren’t careful. I always try to look for accommodation where parking is included. If a city has great public transport then you can stay on the outskirts and use that to get to the attractions.
You also avoid the inner-city traffic. We have a full blog post on how to save money on car parking.
11. Use a dash cam in case of an unexpected accident
Having a dashcam is an excellent idea for a number of reasons. Here are just some of the benefits.
- Capture footage of any accidents that take place
- Prevent insurance fraud by having evidence of any incidents
- Contest speeding tickets if they falsely accuse you.
- Make awesome memories by recording video footage of breathtaking roads.
We have an article on the best dash cams on the market!
12. Create a road trip budget to manage the cost of your trip
Creating a budget to include the cost of food, accommodation, transport, and entertainment will help you to manage expenses and focus on enjoying the adventure.
Not the best with finances? Use our guide to Creating a Road Trip Budget.
13. Get the conversation started with some road trip questions
Get ahead of the curve by preparing some entertainment for your long road trip. We’ve got several articles on Road Trip Entertainment to keep you busy.
There are more road trip tips further down in this article on how to stay entertained, so keep reading!
14. Stay safe whilst on the road
Safety first as the saying goes. That certainly holds true on a road trip. Take a browse of our Road Safety Tips to brush up on the highway code before you set off.
15. Plan border crossings in advance if required
If you are taking a long road trip abroad and are planning to cross a border, its important to do your research in advance. Make sure you know what documentation is required and any vehicle restrictions that apply.
It’s also very important to ensure your insurance is valid and you don’t need special permission. If your road trip is in Europe, we have a full article on European Border Crossings by Car.
16. Make sure your insurance and documentation is in order
You never know when you might run into an officer whilst on the road. Always double check your insurance, license, and tax are in order prior to leaving.
17. Keep things fun with the best in-car accessories
If you are in the car for a long time it’s important to be well equipped with the Best Road Trip Accessories. Key things to remember include an in-car charger, sun shields for the windows, and a phone holder.
18. Make sure you have a few quotes lined up for that awesome instagram post
Scenic pictures are a must whilst on a road trip with friends or family. Check out our top Road Trip Quotes for the best captions for that memorable moment!
19. Get exercise during your driving breaks
How often should you stop on road trips?
It is advisable to take a 15-20-minute break every two hours. Taking regular breaks is good to prevent boredom, back pain, and tiredness. It’s very important to stay safe on the road and having a rest helps with renewed concentration.
Taking a walk for 10 minutes in scenic surroundings will make you feel refreshed to continue driving. This is one of my favorite road trip tips
20. Ensure you have a breakdown cover policy
Since you may be traveling far from home, make sure you have breakdown cover in case of an emergency. This is especially important if you are traveling abroad.
Different policies provide different types of cover, so make sure you have one which suits your needs before you set off. The last thing you want is to be miles from home and get a huge bill for unforeseen costs!
21. Enjoy a few road trip games during the journey
Road trips are a fantastic way to see new places. The flexibility to move between attractions at will is what draws many to this type of travel.
That being said, long hours on the road can lead to boredom if you are not prepared with some Entertainment! Make sure you have plenty of travel games planned. You can check out my full article on Road Trip Trivia here!
If you have any road trip games you love please add them in the comments below!
22. Consider podcasts and audiobooks as well as music
Most people have a great line of playlists set up for road trips but on a long journey sometimes you need a change from music.
I would recommend downloading a selection of podcasts or audiobooks so you have the option of something different in the car. You can even learn a new skill such as a language via audio while on the move.
You can try an Audible Plus Free Trial if you wish to get started!
23. Prepare food and drink in advance to save money
When you go on a road trip you have all sorts of expenses relating to the vehicle so saving money on food and drink is a great place to start if you want to try and do things on a budget.
I try to take a packed lunch and plenty of drinks with me to avoid costly service station purchases of food and coffee. Keep your beverages cold with this Igloo Portable Cooler.
Don’t let this be a substitute for regular breaks, though! If you would like some inspiration then check out this article on the Best Road Trip Food!
24. Download the best apps in advance
These are the apps that made the ultimate road trip tips recommended list!
- Google Maps – navigation
- Waze – navigation
- Monzo or similar cash apps – great for splitting costs with friends
- Hostelworld or Booking.com – for booking accommodation
- Top Road Trip Game Apps – App for in-car games
25. Consider accommodation options while route planning
When planning a road trip many people start by looking at the main attractions on their route that they want to visit. This is a great place to start but it’s key to consider accommodation.
I tend to use hostels regularly. As such, I search on the Hostelworld app in advance to find potential places I can stay before I create my itinerary.
26. Never forget the in-car phone charger
On a recent road trip around Scotland, my car charger stopped working. Anyone who uses Google Maps for their road trips will know it can cause an intense drain on the battery.
A car charger is one of my must-have Road Trip Accessories.
27. Adjust the seat correctly before your journey
Long periods of driving sitting in a poor position will really take its toll on your body. Make sure that you adjust your seat to be in a good comfortable position
Remember to try to sit up straight with your shoulders back against the seat. Adjust your seat position so that your legs have a slight bend in them and your legs are supported by the bottom of the seat. Make sure you can comfortably depress all of the pedals without difficulty.
28. Always Fill up the tank in a cheap gas station
Fuel prices can vary a lot during a long road trip and in some places such as Australia fuel can be scarce over great distances.
Therefore, when you see a fuel station with fuel at a good price, take a quick break and fill up the tank. Getting a good price on fuel throughout the duration of a long trip can save some real cash. It’s one of the best ways to Save Money on a Road Trip!
29. Consider the scenic route
It’s tempting to just fire your destination into google maps and click “start”.
Consider the scenic route…
I like to look at the other potential routes even if they are slower and see if there are any potential attractions on the way.
After all, road trips are all about having fun! If you can mix attractions and nice scenery into your break schedule then it’s going to improve your journey.
You may just happen upon a quaint unknown town to take a coffee break, chat with some local people, and perhaps share some road trip tips!
30. Ask local people where to eat
This is one of my favorite tips for road trips. Food is such an important part of an adventure!
Local people often have the best suggestions for awesome eateries! If you are pulling into a gas station to refuel, why not ask the cashier if there are any great places to eat nearby?
31. Take some cash for the tolls and unexpected purchases
It’s always good to have some cash in the car. The simple reason is that not everywhere accepts credit cards.
Have a backup option for tolls, cafes, or other small businesses where you might need to make a quick purchase.
Pro Tip: If you are in Europe a great way to check toll prices is Viamichellin.
32. Have a couple of drinks in the car for the end of a long drive
Having a couple of beers in the car for a well-earned brew at the end of the long drive can be a great morale booster! You never know, there might just be an epic sunset to enjoy…
Cross Country Road Trip Tips
When you are completing a full-on cross-country road trip then it can really take its toll. Please use all the advice above to make the trip as enjoyable as possible.
Disclosure: Some or all of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase, but this is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert.
Iain founded The Road Trip Expert in 2019 and continues to manage the website to this day. The inspiration to start the blog came during an extensive road trip around Europe with two friends that spanned several months and involved over 25,000km of driving. He started backpacking in 2014 and has had the pleasure of exploring over 60 countries. Read more on the About page.