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Rachel Hannah preparing for her road trip. Standing next to car

Ultimate Guide to Make Your Road Trip/ Move a Success

Rachel HannahFebruary 15, 2021
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This post is my ultimate guide to make a success out of your road trip or move! Not only will I be covering how to set your road trip/move up for success but also some additional tips which may be useful if you’re moving at the same time as I did.

I GEEK out when it’s time to plan a trip.  I’ll sit in front of my computer for hours researching what I want to do and see.  But the top of the roller coaster for me is figuring out how I can see and do the most things in the window of time I have.  It’s like a game for me to see how smoothly I can make the trip!  Not gonna lie, I kill it 99% of the time. And when I don’t it triggers me, haha!

As my first EVER blog post, I feel like this topic is only fitting to write about. Deciding to road trip and move to Florida is what sparked me to start a blog. It’s truly amazing what new scenery can do. So if your gut is telling you to make a change, go with it!

glasgow

How to Plan Your Road Trip for Success

Part I: Before the trip

1. Routing

The most obvious yet, most critical part of planning. Pick your cities and make sure the distance is doable for the number of days you’ll be driving for. The easiest method is to take advantage of google map’s multi-stop tool. You can see exactly how long each portion of the trip will be.

In maps add the first stop, hit the “directions” button. Hit the three dots on the top right and select “add stop”

Once you’ve decided on a route, choose which cities you will need more nights in (ex: if hiking give an extra day for rest or bad weather)

If going to a city where you might want to experience some nightlife don’t forget to try and schedule those for the weekend. Sometimes you won’t have a choice depending on which city comes first. But say you have Denver and then Austin, you’d probably want to set up Denver during the week for nature activities and then arrive in Austin for the weekend.

2. Timing

My route was 26 hours and I had 4 driving days in an eight-day span. The first leg of the drive was only 4 hours to Chicago to visit friends or I would have driven straight to Knoxville (9hrs). Excluding Chicago from the route leaves me with 22 hours with fairly equally distanced stops, averaging about 7.5 hours to reach each location.

• Unless there is more than one driver I wouldn’t recommend drive times much over 7-8 hours.

• Factor in delays for arrival time (traffic, extra stops, food, gas) The map ETA is just the base, don’t take it too seriously!

Round up your estimates

Length of your drive time is key

• Longer drive time means sacrificing sleep to start driving earlier.

• Even if you get up at 5am you may get tired by the time you arrive.

• If you begin later you’ll cut into your day and could still being tired from the excessively long drive. FAIL!

Unless you are spending a few days at a particular stop and don’t mind using the whole day for travel, limiting your drive time is important. But if you are only staying a day or two, the arrival time is KEY!

When to leave

I always aimed to leave between 6-7 am. For a 7 hour drive, this allowed me to reach around mid-afternoon.

In my opinion, mid-afternoon is the ideal arrival time. Usually, hotels and Airbnb’s check-in’s are around 3. If you’re early, grab food or walk around, and if you’re running late or already ate you should arrive right around check-in. You’d still have time to rest and clean up if you’re planning to dine out.

3. Planning Activities

• Have a general idea of what you want to do in the stopping city and make a rough outline for each day.

• Make a list of your top choices you are most excited about.

• Pair short activities together and long activities by themselves (don’t overbook the day!).

• ALWAYS have some backup options. I cannot stress that enough!

• Call to make sure the location is open (especially if driving far to get there).

There are so many times where I have shown up to a place and it’s either not impressive as the google maps photos, or it’s closed even though Google says it’s open. This might be more of an issue during weekdays or off-seasons when places might close due to low traffic (and nowadays, COVID). But still, it doesn’t hurt to give em’ a ring!

Whenever plan A fails, all I have to do is pull up my trusty notes and we have somewhere else to try!

Part II :During the trip

1. Food & Water

My golden rule: “eat twice stop once!

OK, so this sounds a little impossible… and it is… but the concept has some logic behind it. If you eat a heavy breakfast at the departure spot and load up on that coffee, you’ll be full and wired for a while, lol.  Unless you’re one of the unlucky ones with a small bladder… (sucks to suck!). But if you’re like me, I’ll be good until later afternoon/evening.

This may sound silly, but to limit bathroom breaks don’t chug your water. Find out when you’re about to stop know for food or gas and then down it. The worst stop is when you have a full gas tank and are full but can’t hold it anymore… So take sips not gulps, lol

My food stops

•Wendy’s

• Culver’s

• Chick-fil-A

I like them because they all have large filling salads and clean bathrooms!

2. Last Minute tips for success

Say it’s your first day at your destination and the waitress gives you a whole new list of recommendations. You might be thinking, “shoot… how can I fit these in too?” 

• Plug them into maps and use the multi-stop tool like mentioned before. See how close they are to places you were already planning on visiting, then decide which day they will fit best into. 

• Use google maps pin parking location feature so you don’t forget where you parked (especially at night)

• When leaving the hotel for the day keep extra clothing items (sweater/sneakers) in reach.

• This is good for an unexpected change in weather

That wraps up my first post! Hopefully, some of my strategies will help you plan your next road trip. If you like this content be sure to read my other road trip/moving posts suggested below.

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