Planning a Road Trip

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Road trip

There are few better ways to explore a country than on a road trip. Unlike an airplane that takes you straight to a destination, driving gives you the freedom to stray from your path and appreciate your surroundings. Here are a few things you can do to ensure an enjoyable, stress-free summer road trip.

  • Just like any holiday, it is important to have a budget so you can calculate how much you can do on your trip. Estimate expected expenses such as hotels, meals, gas and entrance fees to your must-see spots before you leave. This will give you a good idea of how many restaurant meals and souvenirs you can afford along the way.
  • Wanderant lets you plan your trip right from your smartphone. Find your perfect route and choose from lodgings, restaurants and attractions along the way. It also works offline to keep you on track without the costly roaming fees.
  • Don’t forget to pack up-to-date maps. Mark the places and tourist attractions you want to visit, and plot a route that will take you there. Check out reviews on TripAdvisor before you leave to read what other tourists have to say.
  • Roadside attractions help to break up the drive by giving you a reason to pull over for a photo op or a selfie. Check out these sites for a good selection of roadside attractions across the country: http://www.where.ca/blog/slideshow/canada-roadside-attractions/ and http://www.americansguide.ca/pictures.html.
  • With your overall route in place, try to book as many of your overnight lodgings as you can before you begin your travels. Knowing you have a bed for the night is comforting after a long drive. Limit your travel to 500 kms a day. Any more will leave you with little time for sightseeing and will put the driver at risk of exhaustion.
  • Avoid boredom on the drive between destinations. Make sure you have a stash of books and games to keep everyone entertained on the road.
  • Take a cooler to fill with supplies from grocery stores along the way. Pack lots of healthy snacks like granola bars and dried fruit. Bring refillable water bottles and travel mugs for everyone.
  • Have all identification documents, such as your passport, travel insurance policy, credit cards and some cash and coins on hand. Make photocopies of your important documents and put them in a safe place in case something happens to the originals. TIP: If you’re bringing an iPad with you, take photos of your documents with it before you leave. Just be sure to have it password-protected, and the remote wipe feature engaged.
  • Pack an emergency kit with jumper cables, basic tools, flares, a flashlight with spare batteries, and basic medical supplies. It is a good idea to have a couple of blankets too.
  • Have your vehicle professionally serviced before you leave to make sure it’s in top form for your trip.
  • You may want to sign up to one of the numerous roadside assistance services, such as the CAA or Sam’s Club in case you find yourself stranded on the side of the road. They’ll get you back on your way safely and as quickly as possible. The CAA also offers its members free travel books to help you plan the perfect getaway, and has a mobile app that provides gas prices near you.
  • Before you leave, protect yourself and your loved ones with travel insurance. Even if you’re traveling in Canada or going on a shorter trip, travel insurance makes sense. Many believe that their provincial healthcare plan will cover them across the country, but not all healthcare fees are covered outside your province.

Being organized before you drive off is an essential part of any road trip. Then all you have to do is remember to relax and have fun!

This article was originally published in July 2014, and has been updated for content and relevancy.

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