Planning a road trip? Wondering what to do on a road trip? It can feel a little overwhelming, can’t it?
Today, we’re sharing 35 of our top tips for road trip planning- things NOT to do on a road trip that you should really avoid if you possibly can! Some of them are common sense, and some are a bit more obscure
Ready to find out what NOT to do on your next road trip? Let’s get started
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What to do on a road trip- driving mistakes to avoid
Here are some tips to help you avoid these basic road trip driving mistakes.
- Don’t be unrealistic with your time or try to cram too much in. Travelling by road can be exhausting- give yourself time to chill and also to explore and do all the fun stuff you want to do. Grab this FREE printable road trip planner to help you create an itinerary.
- Allow time for unplanned detours in your itinerary. Sometimes those are the best adventures! Learn how to create an itinerary with Google Maps
- Having said that, don’t set off with no clue where you’re going. Even if it sounds romantic to ‘see where the road takes us’, a vague plan will help everyone feel better.
- Don’t be in so much of a rush that you avoid the back roads completely. They may be slower, but they’re often the most scenic.
- Driving at night can be tough, especially if you’re tired. So can driving in heavy rain. Try and avoid these where possible.
- Don’t drive for too long at one time. This will just make you irritable and tired. Plan plenty of rest stops and downtime- it’s supposed to be fun!
- Make sure you use the restroom or toilet whenever you can. Unless you’re travelling in an RV or motorhome, and you have your own! Remember, it’s illegal for a passenger to use the toilet whilst en-route, so make sure you still stop for rest breaks. (Travelling in an RV? Here are 7 ways to make your RV bathroom smell like a spa!)
10 road trip mistakes to avoid before you’ve even left
- Make sure you do your pre-trip checks. (Grab our FREE pre-trip checklist here)
- Be thoughtful over what vehicle you’re taking. Is it suitable for the trip you want to do, the weather or season, and the length of journey? Don’t forget, you can always rent a motorhome or car for your trip if you prefer.
- Hope for good weather, prepare for bad. Even if the forecast is good, bring a coat or warm jumper. Just in case.
- Don’t forget to walk around your vehicle, checking lights and anything strapped to the roof or back.
- If you’re in an RV, make sure to unplug the electric cables and other attachments before you drive off!
- Make sure everything is packed away securely
- Don’t overpack. A cramped car or camper is no fun.
- Bring games and things to do for the kids. Here are 21 of the best children’s car games.
- Pack enough medication, especially if it’s a prescription. It’s not always easy to get these on the road. A car first aid kit is also a good idea.
- Download ALL THE THINGS. Download road trip songs, podcasts, films, games. Download it all before leaving so you’re not upset or disappointed when you’re on the road, without a signal and can’t download the song that’s in your head and WILL NOT QUIT.
What to do on a road trip- common sense tips
The following are all ‘common-sense’ things. At least, they are to us, because we literally spend our life touring Europe in a motorhome. But, if you’re planning your first road trip, here are some beginners tips you might not have thought about.
- Make sure you keep an eye on the fuel gauge. We never let ours go below half-way. Annoying, yes, but great when you suddenly find yourself in the middle of nowhere… like we did in Mexico!
- Paperwork. Make sure you have all documentation and paperwork you need. This includes driving licence, passport, international driving permit. Carry an additional copy of everything as well, just in case.
- Parking. Take into account the size of your vehicle and be careful where you park it! It’s easy to get this wrong- especially when you’re tired.
- Avoid making your vehicle a target for thieves. Don’t leave phones, iPads, sat navs or valuables in plain sight in the car or camper. And no, we don’t advocate leaving a dummy device. If you’re in a motorhome, fit a motorhome security door lock to help deter thieves further.
Road trip mistakes- budget planning
Budget planning can be tricky – after all, how do you estimate the cost of a road trip? But there are some basic things you can do to plan.
- Figure out how far you’ll drive, and what your vehicle’s MPG is. Then find out the current price of fuel in your area and voila- you have a rough budget for mileage. I would all 1.5 times to the figure so you over-estimate.
- Take into account the costs of tolls or vignettes you might need to pay as you travel.
- Allow a budget per night for campsites or hotels
- Create a budget for food and plan some easy road trip meals in advance.
- If you’re travelling with friends, make sure you discuss beforehand how to handle money. The easiest way is to all put a set amount into an envelope, and pay for everything fuel and accommodation and snacks out of that. If eating out, either split the bill or get people to pay their own way. Same for alcohol (do NOT drink and drive!)
- Carry cash- especially small change for parking meters or tolls. It’s amazing how often you need it. Don’t carry too much though!
- Carry at least one bank card, preferably a credit card. That way, if you need a lump amount for something (such as to get home quickly in an emergency) you can.
What to do on a road trip when things go wrong
Ok, I hate to break this to you, but something is probably going to go wrong- even if it’s as simple as getting lost. Here’s some advice.
When you get lost…
Take a deep breath. There used to be a whole world before GPS and you can handle this. Ideally, pull out an atlas or paper-based map, find where you are and navigate yourself to where you want to go.
If that’s tough, ask someone for help. If you don’t speak the language, use Google translate- one of the most essential road trip apps.
If you can’t find anyone, phone your mum/ friend/ neighbour and ask them to help you navigate. Just be prepared to be ridiculed FOREVER afterwards… so try the first two first
When something breaks
Be prepared for something to break. If your sat nav isn’t working, have a backup. A map or an app. If something breaks on your vehicle, make sure you have the emergency numbers to call or the equipment to fix it.
Useful gear to keep in your car or camper includes:
- Duct tape- an essential in life at all times
- A multi-bit ratcheting screwdriver set
- A Leatherman multi-tool
- Bungee cords with hooks
- Hatchet/hammer combo
- Spare bulbs for all lights, interior and exterior
- Tire pressure gauge.
- Rubber gloves.
- First aid kit
- For campervans- a small level is helpful for ensuring you’re not parked at a slope.
- A socket set including adapters and extensions.
If you fight with your companions…
Oh man, this is tough. Hopefully, you liked whoever you are travelling with before you started the road trip, so try hard to fix the damage, even if they are OBVIOUSLY to blame and it’s not your fault. AT. ALL.
But seriously, give them a little space to calm down, then try to make it all better. Sitting in miserable silence is no way to spend your time.
If you can’t find anywhere to stay
Not calling to make a reservation can sometimes be a bit risky, either at a hotel or in a campsite. If you’re touring Europe in a motorhome, you can use aires, which are great because they can’t be booked. Alternatively, you can wild camp! If you don’t have camping gear with you, I guess there’s always sleeping in the car if you can’t find somewhere else to stay! Don’t forget to try AirBnB as well as booking.com
Running out of snacks
This is indeed a true emergency. Road trip snacks are important. Bring more next time and learn your lesson. ALWAYS overpack the snacks.
What to do on a road trip with a dog- avoid these errors
Travelling with a dog is awesome. We love exploring with our spaniel, Mac. However, there are some mistakes to avoid.
- Make sure their microchip data is correct (your name, address etc).
- Also, make sure they have had all their required vaccinations- and carry the paperwork to prove that.
- Get pet tags with your phone number on it. Avoid putting the dog’s name on the tag- it makes it easier for people to steal them away.
- Make sure your dog is secure inside your vehicle, with a harness or travel seat. You don’t want them to get hurt if you have to stop sharply or in the event of an accident.
- Consider how the weather will affect your pet. With dogs you don’t want to travel somewhere that’s going to be too hot for them. We also travel to the mountains in the summer as the beach is too warm for our crazy pup who.just.never.stops.running…!
- Bring a good dog travel towel. And a water bottle which turns into a bowl so they can easily drink.
- DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE IN A HOT VEHICLE. We’ve all been in that horrible position when it’s 7000 degrees outside and you need fuel. And to use the toilet. And want to grab a snack. And your dog is in the car. Just remember, it can take less than 10 minutes for a dog to overheat. Leave a window open, leave them water and run around like a crazy person until you’re safely back at the vehicle. If it means you have to stop once for fuel then find a drive-through for food, so be it. Your dog’s health is more important.
- Get these 5 essential dog road trip accessories– the things your dog wishes you had!
Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.
If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.