Since the 2020 pandemic began, more families are taking road trips instead of flying for their vacation. There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road and going on an adventure.

If you’ve never been on a proper one, here are more than a few tips to help you start planning the best road trip ever.

1. Start Daydreaming

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This is the funniest part of planning a road trip. Make a list of all the places you’d love to visit. Don’t worry too much about the logistics for now. Let your imagination run wild because online tools are available to help you design your itinerary.

Websites like Road Trippers do most of the work for you, and they’re easy to use. Plug in all the places you’d like to visit.

The website will automatically design a map that puts all your destinations in an order that makes the most sense to save you time and money. It can also help you find hotels and sights along the way. Just like that, your trip plans can come together!

2. Set Up a Budget

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Living on the road sounds like a dream come true, and it certainly can be. It can also become an extremely expensive trip, and that can happen swiftly.

You’ll encounter highway and bridge tolls, visit rest stops for food and gas, pay for hotels or campsites, and cover various activities you’ll want to enjoy along the way. This could easily add up over the course of a week or two.

Decide on how much you can or want to spend. There are plenty of gas calculators online that will tell you roughly how much you’ll spend on fuel for your trip based on your vehicle and how far you’re traveling.

If you realize that gasoline and tolls alone may cost more than you expected, find ways to cut back on your expenses. Buy a cooler to pack road snacks, meals, and beverages.

Look for more places to camp or friends to stay with along the way as opposed to booking a hotel room every night. Get creative with your road trip. That’s part of the fun and adventure.

3. Talk to Your Property Manager

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If you’re planning on making an extended road trip, this could take you away from your apartment for more than just a week-long vacation. According to Green Residential, a property management company in Houston, landlords can benefit from sub-tenants because it makes the property less vulnerable to break-ins which are more likely if it’s left empty for an extended period.

Talk to your landlord to see if your lease allows sublets or you may temporarily rent out your space. Websites like Airbnb or Trusted House Sitters can generate money to cover your bills like rent and utilities while you’re away.

Not all property managers allow this kind of arrangement, so it’s essential to speak with them before diving in, or risk breaking your lease agreement.

4. Be Prepared by Being Safe

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Anything can happen on the open road, but you can activate several safety measures ahead of time. Make sure you’re set up with AAA or that your insurance covers roadside assistance.

Verify that your spare tire is good, your car has had a recent oil change, and any other miscellaneous maintenance items the vehicle might need. It might be worth calling your local auto shop to ask whether they can perform a travel inspection. These are often done for free and can tell you if anything might need attention before your car goes on an extended trip.

It would also be a smart idea to download Maps.me, an application on your phone that allows you to download a digital map which provides directions for hiking, biking, or driving to anywhere in the world. That way, if you find yourself without a signal, you’ll have access to a digital map that can guide you back to civilization.

It also can help you find gas stations, which is an advantage over regular maps.

Don’t Get Too Attached To Your Plans

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Let’s face it. You could have the perfect itinerary for a great adventure, but something could still go wrong. Perhaps you collide with inclement weather that forces you to reroute, or a major traffic collision sets your schedule back a few hours. It’s vital to allow yourself flexibility.

The other side of being flexible about your plans is this allows for spontaneous fun to happen. This country is filled with beautiful sights and activities that might go under the radar.

You may even meet some locals who want to invite you to dinner. Opening yourself to unanticipated adventures is part of the experience, and will make for lasting memories.

Download Videos, Games, and Books for the Kids

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“Are we there yet?” are the dreaded words for every parent in a car. Road trips can seem a lot longer to a young child than they are for an adult.

Fortunately, you can prepare by downloading some of your kids’ favorite books, games, and movies to keep them preoccupied if you need to drive a few extra hours.

Download Music, Podcasts, and Audiobooks for the Adults

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Don’t forget about the adults in the car! You’ll absolutely want to download some of your favorite playlists, podcasts, and audiobooks for the trip.

For one thing, you might run into a situation where you have no WiFi signal. This means you can’t stream and will be at the mercy of local radio stations.

The other reason is you’ll inevitably want a way to zone out on those flat, empty roads in the middle of Texas or Nebraska. Podcasts and audiobooks make the time feel like it’s flying. By the end of your book, you could be at your destination.

Whether you’re driving along the coast or going across the country, there are a multitude of free resources available to ensure you have a safe, fun, and stress-free road trip. Prepare ahead of time and don’t forget to dream big.