From Cell Phone Chargers to Playlists: The Best Road Trip Tips for the Open Road
Begin their journey with a key step: preparation.
Do you remember the first real road trip you took as a young adult? Was it memorable because of the fun you had or because of problems that soured the experience? Help make your young adult’s first unsupervised road trip a success by sharing these nine tips.
1. Make a plan.
Whether you’re driving a couple of hours to spend the day at an amusement park or taking a multiday trip to visit friends or family in another state, be realistic with your travel goals. (TripTik.AAA.com includes COVID-19 updates.) Before you leave on your first road trip, choose your route and calculate the length of the drive. Here’s how to use AAA Mobile to create a TripTik:
Plan to take a break from driving every two hours or hundred miles, and decide whether you’re splitting the driving chores with your companions.
2. Prep the car.
AAA Members can request a free vehicle maintenance inspection at AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities (AAA.com/AutoRepair) and get a 10% discount (up to $50) on labor for regular-price services. If you rent a car for the trip instead, your AAA Membership lets you save up to 20% and waive the young-renter fee at Hertz (see AAA.com/Hertz for details), but be sure you understand the age requirements for your car rental.
3. Prep yourself.
Get plenty of sleep the night before your first road trip and eat a good meal before you depart. Wear comfortable clothes for the drive. Also, take your mom’s advice and use the bathroom before you leave the house.
4. Know your passengers.
If you’re traveling with friends who are sharing the driving duties, be sure they’re covered by insurance as a driver of your car in the event of a crash. (And if they are driving your rental, make sure they are listed with the rental agency as an additional driver.) You may also want to lay down some ground rules so it’s clear who has final say on decisions like when and where to stop and when to change plans, if necessary.
5. Take what you need.
A credit card is a must on your first road trip, but so is cash—for incidentals and for emergencies. Pack plenty of snacks and drinks, an emergency kit, a cellphone charger, a paper map, and entertainment options like music and audiobooks. The paper map could be a printed TripTik that can be ordered online (allow two weeks for mail delivery).
See more essentials that should be on your packing list.
6. Allow time for the unexpected.
Whether you encounter heavy traffic or bad weather, you’ll avoid stress if you’ve built in time for delays. You’ll also be glad for that extra time when you find a fun place to stop that wasn’t part of your original itinerary.
AAA Members save at least 5¢ per gallon at Shell when signing up for the Fuel Rewards Program (terms apply).
7. Don’t take chances.
Running out of gas or getting pulled over for speeding are preventable problems. Stop and refuel before dropping below a quarter tank of gas, and always obey all driving laws while on the road.
8. Give regular updates.
Family and friends at home want to know how your first road trip is going; what’s more, they may be able to offer advice or other help if you encounter problems during your trip. Check in at regular intervals—like when you stop to rest or when you finish the day’s drive.
9. Know what your AAA Membership can do.
As a member of AAA, you have lots of road trip resources at your disposal. Use the AAA Mobile app on the road to find the lowest gas prices, dining and lodging options, and more. And if you run into trouble, AAA can come to you for roadside assistance, fuel delivery, locksmith services and more.