The rules of the road. Driving laws and etiquette vary everywhere, even from state to state. Learn the rules of the road and study up on road signage, license requirements, permits, and toll passes. Avoid those tickets!
How’s your driving? Road trips provide an opportunity to drive through various landscapes, which is why it’s a good idea to know what conditions you’re comfortable driving in. Do you mind driving in cities or along winding coastal roads? Are you fine with driving in the snow or through isolated areas? How about driving on the other side of the road? Be honest about your abilities to map your route accordingly and avoid white-knuckling your steering wheel.
Choose thy travel partners wisely. Because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them in the car. After several hours of driving, even an RV can feel small, so choose people you can share close quarters with and won’t want to leave on the side of a highway.
Prepare for the worst. Sometimes gas stations are few and far between—and are you truly skilled at changing a tire? Roadside assistance services, a portable air pump, a fire extinguisher, and a first-aid kid are must haves for a road trip. And don’t forget that spare tire either.
Go old school and new school. Cell phone connections sometimes fail, GPS devices can be incorrect, or maybe you just want to get off the main road. Paper maps or a road atlas are good backups and can provide alternative less-touristy routes. On the flip side, load your smartphone with apps that point out the nearest gas station, restaurant, or hotel. The apps will be especially handy if you want to have a loose itinerary or take detours. Which leads to…
Take detours. Having freedom to pull over when you see something or veer off onto a small back road is one of the most fun parts of road tripping. Be open to changing up your itinerary. You’ll be surprised what you can find.
Stay alert. It’s easy to zone out when driving long distances. In addition to getting plenty of rest the night before, be sure to take breaks from driving. It will snap you out of the trance, and also help stay connected with the local culture.
Don’t drink and drive. Never ever. Just never. Blood alcohol limits are different from country to country, as are DUI repercussions, so the best practice is to have a sober driver or to hold off drinking until you’ve parked for the night.
Leave some room. It’s easy over pack when you have a car. (Hooray for no tiny overhead bins!) But even with a trunk, a backseat, and a roof to hold your belongings, be mindful of your vehicle’s weight limit especially in correlation to the type of roads you’ll be driving. Always have enough space where you can take a nap too.
Do always pack a raincoat no matter where you’re going. (Yes, even the desert.) It’s a lot easier to warm than it is to get dry. Plus it can act as a water pouch or keep your seat dry after a day at the beach.