5 Tips To Make The Most Of Your Road Trip
Road trips are one of the most iconic ways to travel – there is rarely anything better than the feeling of getting behind the wheel with your bags packed in the trunk and the open road ahead.
No matter where the road may take you, there is one thing all long car rides have in common: they bring with them an unrivaled sense of nostalgia and adventure. And the best part is, it doesn’t matter when you hit the road!
Whether you wind through fall foliage for a scenic drive, take a road trip home for the holidays, or drive in spring with the top down, there is always an opportunity to keep the spirit of adventure alive.
Many are itching to do exactly that. Overall, travel intent among Americans is steadily rising. A recent report from Deloitte revealed consumer intent to travel has been reaching what many consider to be extremely high levels.
And amid ongoing issues with air travel, including staffing shortages and unprecedented delays, many are opting to hit the road for their vacations this year. According to the latest Gauge Index, an ongoing consumer survey from leading tire manufacturer Hankook Tire, 77 percent of drivers expect to take a road trip this year.
“There is nothing more exhilarating than getting out on the open road. No matter where your trip may take you, it is an opportunity to capture a sense of excitement and fun that many of us seek out in our lives,” said JJ Park, vice president of marketing for Hankook Tire America Corp. “Of course, the last thing anyone wants is to encounter a bump in the road due to a maintenance issue, so drivers should ensure their vehicles are ready to roll before heading out.”
From planning your route and destination to maintenance tips that could help avoid unexpected delays, here are five tips for ensuring the smoothest course for your travels, no matter the season:
1. Pick your place.
Road trips offer one big benefit: flexibility. In fact, Hankook found that 40 percent of travelers who are planning to use a car as their primary method of transportation for their next vacation will do so because they enjoy the added flexibility. Travelers are not as tied to a specific location, such as one near an airport, when they take their own vehicles, and they are free to travel on any given day or time. And that means there is an opportunity to adventure someplace new – perhaps even somewhere off the beaten path!
However, it is helpful to go with a destination – or at the very least, a direction – in mind. If you don’t mind a few crowds, consider one of the country’s top road trips as analyzed by Geotab: Monument Valley, Yellowstone, the Colorado Rockies, and the Grand Canyon are all listed in the top 10.
2. Map your route.
Once you have picked your destination, consider how you want to get there. Do you want to take the scenic route, or are you looking for a more direct path? Is there an opportunity to avoid major cities during rush hour?
And be mindful of when you’re going where you’re going. For example, many destinations popular among summer tourists will adjust their construction schedules to the spring or fall. Other extreme climates may opt to do construction in milder times of year, so it couldn’t hurt to always monitor for any potential roadwork.
“Much of the fun of a road trip is seeing where your path will take you, but at the same time, no one wants to be stuck in a traffic jam on their way to vacation,” said Park. “It is also wise to consider where resources are along the way, such as gas stations and maintenance shops, should you need to make a pit stop.”
3. Run a diagnostic.
To help avoid such pit stops, however, it is a good idea to check your vehicle before you hit the road. Previous Gauge data found that even though some drivers put off maintenance during the pandemic, most returned to their regular maintenance schedules within the last year.
Still, a quick inspection before a road trip can help avoid any headaches along the way. And while it is always recommended to take your vehicle into a shop for a full inspection, there are a few things you can check out yourself:
- Give your windshield a good once-over and check for any dings or cracks (and consider wiping it down, while you’re at it!). Also check the wiper blades and windshield cleaning fluid to ensure neither need to be replaced.
- Turn the car on, and check your headlights and brake lights to see if any bulbs need replacing.
- Check and top off all fluids. Antifreeze is particularly important when driving in colder climates.
- Inspect the tread on your tires with a quick penny test. Place a penny upside down in the groove of the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it is time to replace your tires before you head out.
- It’s especially important to check the air pressure in your tires, especially if you anticipate significant changes in the outside temperature during your route.
Ambient temperature can impact the inflation of your tires – colder temperatures can reduce inflation, while higher temperatures can add to the PSI. Be sure to review your owner’s manual for the recommended pressure point for your vehicle.
4. Check the weather.
The tires are far from the only thing impacted by a sudden shift in temperature. With that in mind, be sure to keep an eye on the weather in your destination.
In addition, if you are driving a particularly long route, it could be worth looking at any potential weather events happening along the way. For example, keep in mind that hurricane season begins in June, and that snowstorms are happening earlier and later in the season.
Not only will watching the forecast help you know what to pack – nobody wants to be stuck in a rainstorm in an outfit meant for the sun – but it can help you prepare your vehicle. Sudden storms can be thrilling and beautiful, but they can also be intense and unpredictable.
Whether you are cruising along a coastline or winding through the mountains, any inclement weather can add a level of difficulty when it comes to controlling your vehicle and can impact the way you drive.
On the flip side, perhaps your trip takes you to a much drier and hotter climate than you are used to. That is why it is especially important to make sure your engine fluids are topped off and your air conditioning is working!
“Many times, a road trip will take us to an entirely new adventure, which could mean driving in unfamiliar conditions,” Park said. “However, in some ways, that is the allure of it, and drivers should not be intimidated, especially if they take the time to know where they’re heading and that their vehicle is ready to handle the weather ahead. Preparedness is key.”
5. Find time for fun!
Of course, one of the biggest parts of the road trip is the fun of it all! Sixty percent of drivers feel hopeful or excited about their upcoming vacations, according to the Gauge. For those seeking a chance to capture the full excitement of hitting the open road, find opportunities to incorporate fun throughout the trip.
- Start with a good playlist. Trying to find a good station while driving can be distracting, so always let the passenger in the car be the music manager. Or better yet, instead of adjusting with the radio dial as you go in and out of coverage areas, create a continuous playlist to get you to and from your destination and keep everyone in the right mood.
- Prepare some snacks, because nobody is having a good time when they are hungry. Easy-to-pack snacks like pretzels or pre-popped popcorn can be convenient things to munch on between stops.
- Set a goal – whether that is spotting all the license plates from a particular state, or stopping at every scenic outlook you can. Gamifying the driving experience can shift gears for a long drive and keep everyone in the vehicle engaged.
“In the end, it is all about having fun and enjoying the freedom of the open road,” Park said. “Our latest Gauge survey found there is an appetite for adventure, and that is something that we hope to see people keep driving wherever their adventure may take them. That said, we hope that drivers will understand that with a few moments of planning, they can not only save themselves time, but also avoid any mishaps down the road. That way, when the time comes to head home, they are left with nothing but good vacation memories.”
Article post by Hankook Tire.