According to the U.S. Travel Association, despite higher gas prices, the upcoming summer travel season is expected to be “prosperous,” with AAA predicting record numbers of travelers on the roadways. AAA also notes that Americans continue to remain interested in seeing the U.S., particularly our National Parks. Orlando retains its spot as the number one most visited destination in the United States, with Hawaii, Alaska, Boston and Salt Lake City also making the top 10 list of most visited summer destinations.
If you and your family are planning to take a summer road trip, there are several steps you can take to make the trip go much more smoothly. Of course, you must first know how to keep your child safe on a trip—as well as yourself and your partner. To ensure a safe, worry-free trip, pre-planning your travel routes can actually make a huge difference.
Why Pre-Plan Your Travel Route?
While it may seem like a fun, spontaneous idea to forego planning and just go where the road takes you, planning your trip can really mean the difference between getting to do and see the things you are interested in – and running out of vacation hours. In other words, while it can seem like somewhat of a grind to pre-plan your trip, the benefits are really worth the time.
First, it is important to make sure everyone who will be on the trip is on the same page as far as travel plans. Being stuck in a car for eight hours a day with unhappy passengers can really put a damper on your trip. Pre-planning can save you from unnecessary delays, ensure you do not land in a huge city during rush hour traffic, and keep everyone on the trip content.
There’s an App for That!
There are several apps which can help you successfully plan your travel route, however, three of the best are Roadtrippers, OnTheWay, and Waze. Roadtrippers uses directions from Google Maps to help you find the best stops along the way, as well as to calculate your fuel costs and the time and distance to your destination. You can also save your trips, editing them as needed when using Roadtrippers.
OnTheWay is a great app for iPhones. The app can show you stops and restaurants along your route, and will also find interesting things like roadside attractions, parks and museums. Waze helps you avoid the headache of delays by alerting you to accidents, construction and traffic problems in real time. Waze can automatically change your travel route to take you around any problem areas and can help you find the closest gas station with the least expensive gas prices.
Other Trip Issues to Think About
Make sure you have checked the weather on your route before you leave. While one route may usually be shorter, if extreme weather is expected, it could be safer—and quicker—to take a different route. Also consider the following tips to ensure your trip is stress-free and fun:
- Prepare a realistic budget for your trip, remembering that off-freeway travel centers often have the highest prices. When possible, bring along your own snacks and drinks to avoid over-spending while on the road.
- Have your car thoroughly checked out before you hit the road—nothing can ruin your trip faster than being on the side of the road in the hot sun with a broken-down car. Even a flat tire can put a damper on your road trip, so have your tires checked out as well.
- Clean out your car every time you stop for gas—this keeps you from having to face a super-messy vehicle when you return home.
Finally, no matter how much planning you have done, it is important that you remain flexible during your trip to deal with the unexpected—road constructions, a bridge washed out, or a car accident, to name a few.