How to Plan a Summer Road Trip

How to Plan a Summer Roadtrip
Photo by: Matthew Leland

Road trips have a sort of irresistible, vintage charm. And, since everyone has been stuck inside for over a year now, if you’re like a lot of people, you’ve been bitten by the travel bug. There’s no better way to kiss the days of total isolation goodbye than with a summer road trip. Plus, it’s (usually) cheaper than flying. Below are a few tips to help your summer road trip go as smoothly as possible.

1. Get the Boring Stuff Done

American Road Trip
Photo by: Ashley Byrd

It’s not as exciting as choosing which beach you’re going to nap on, but it’s essential. Ensure you won’t half to pause the sightseeing to get your oil changed. If you’ve been putting off getting new brake pads or topping off your wiper fluid, now is the time. And, don’t forget to get your car washed before you head out.

2. Know Your Passengers

Road Trip 2021
Photo by: Dylan Sauerwein

If you’re going on a summer road trip by yourself, the itinerary is up to you. You can go as far as you want—or, at least, as far as your vacation days will allow. But if you’re traveling with others—a significant other, kids, pets, or friends—you’re going to have to do some compromising.

If your BFF gets nauseous after ninety minutes in the car, you’ll want to plan lots of pit stops to accommodate. Or, if your kids are only quiet when they are asleep, you’ll have to plan a shorter route. Don’t try to do too much traveling in a day, or you won’t have time to stop and see the kitschy roadside sites. And, on a road trip, that’s at least half of the fun.

3. Don’t Necessarily Go the Quickest Way

Plan a 2021 Road Trip
Photo by: Vlada Karpovich

The quickest way doesn’t always make for the most memorable summer road trip. So, take a look at the map and see if you can stop by any national parks and roadside curiosities en route to your destination. You don’t want to miss things like the World’s Largest Ball of Twine or the Tea-rific Teapot Museum. Check out the Atlas Obscura, which is an excellent compendium of all sorts of little-known odd experiences for you to check off your summer road trip bucket list.

Summer Road Trip
Photo by: Mohammad Faruque

Even if strange museums and esoteric spots for selfies don’t pique your interest, you should still consider taking the scenic route. After all, enjoying nature is good for you. So, put your type-A personality in the trunk, and find a picturesque way to get where you’re going. Try to find scenic routes along the way as well as national parks and other points of interest.

4. Pack Heavy

Road Trip Planner
Photo by: Vlada Karpovich

Road trips are the perfect time not to pack lightly. You won’t be checking any bags, so make sure you have everything that you need—or at least what will fit in your trunk. You might be driving through different climates, so bring layers. Now is the time to make sure you have your sunglasses, your umbrella, your galoshes, and your bikini. Don’t be caught unprepared!

Summer Road Trip
Photo by: Cristina Gottardi

Keep plenty of snacks around since everyone gets hungry at different times. You can take fewer and more intentional stops by having some healthy snacks to keep you energized.

Though you don’t really “pack” digital things, they are important considerations, as well. Remember to download a playlist you love and perhaps some audiobooks or podcasts. If you drive through an area without service, you’ll still have some good stuff to keep your brain occupied.

5. Don’t Overplan It

Best Summer Road Trip
Photo by: Marissa&Eric

One of the best parts about taking a summer road trip is that you don’t have to plan everything down to the minute. Leaving flexibility in your schedule means you can be more spontaneous. While you probably want to have your lodging booked in advance, give yourself time to get to your destination leisurely so that if you see something fun that wasn’t in a guidebook, you can make the most of it.

6. Avoid Tourist Traps on Your Summer Road Trip

Driving Trip
Photo by: Cody Black

Since everyone has been inside for so long, people are now vacationing in record numbers. The New York Times recently reported on the extensive wait times at national parks due to overcrowding. So, if you can, pick some places that are off of the beaten path and skip the unnecessary congestion.

7. Consider the Timing

Road Trip Guide
Photo by: Logan Fisher

If you’ll be driving through densely populated areas, don’t forget to take traffic into account when building your summer road trip itinerary. Try to get to your destination before rush hour begins. And, if you will be going to a touristy destination, try to go during the week when it’s likely to be less crowded.

Road Trip Tips
Photo by: Matheus Ferrero

Check out the Tattooed Women shop for some fun summer road trip gear!