Road tripping is part of the American DNA; a kind of rite of passage that you have to do sometime in your life. Whether you do it on your own, with family or friends, a road trip is exciting, fun and a great opportunity to learn more about ourselves, others and the world around us. We know that first time road tripping can be challenging and overwhelming. That’s why we’ve come up with these great tips that will help you have an enjoyable experience!

Consider Your Car

Some vehicles are simply not made for long trips: they are too small, too uncomfortable, too old or they aren’t simply the best in gas mileage. If you’re travelling with the family or doing long distances, your car will be your home for the next few days or weeks and this is why it’s important that everybody travels as comfortably as possible and that you don’t spend a fortune for every mile you drive.

This is why it can be savvy to opt for those vehicles that are more suited for these trips such as SUVs and minivans.

If you’ll be driving your own car over a long distance for several days, it’s a great idea to let a mechanic check for problems before you depart. Refill your windshield wiper fluid, get your oil changed, make sure all lights are in working order, check your brakes and your tires. If you don’t know yet, it can be a great moment to learn some basic mechanics in case an issue with  your car arises unexpectedly. For instance, knowing how to change a tire can be really handy if you’re on a lonely road and there’s nobody around to ask for help.

Don’t forget to check your driver’s license, insurance policy and any other relevant documentation you may need.

If you have a driver’s license but you don’t own a car, renting a vehicle is a must-do. When you go to acquire your vehicle, the agent will ask you whether you want to get insured or not. Since every jurisdiction asks for drivers to have a car insurance, it can be easy to get press-ganged into accepting the policy that the rental company offers you. However, you need to know that you have other options available including some third party providers as this one and that some of them can be purchased in advance. Take your time to evaluate the different alternatives so that you can choose one that suits your budget and expectations.

Plan Without Stressing Out

Once you know where you’d like to travel it’s time to do some research and planning. How far do you have to travel? How many miles do you plan to drive per day? How long will the road trip be? What are the highlights, must- see locations or attractions you don’t want to miss? What’s your budget? Who will you travel with? And we could go on and on.

However, although travel planning is essential, you’re advised not to stress out if your plans get disrupted because of traffic delays, low fuel or simply because something else caught your attention. The idea is to cover the basics and then leave room for the road to surprise you.

You need to have a clear idea of the route you’d like to take during your road trip. Some travelers like to take the scenic route to their destination, others take back roads and others prefer interstate highways. It’s ideal if you can combine scenic roads to enjoy their great views, highways or more populated routes for the fuel stations, restaurants and roadside services and back roads to escape from potential traffic jams.

It is equally important that you plan your stops wisely. You’ll be driving for long hours and you’ll need to take a break, stretch your legs and move your body. Make sure you plan regular stops, around every two or three hours. If there’s an interesting city, park, store or restaurant that you’d like to see on your road trip, schedule stops accordingly. During these breaks, move your body! If you’re travelling with children, don’t forget to bring a ball so that you can actively play with them! The idea is that you are refreshed to get back to the car!

Don’t rely on Google Maps or other online maps only. Internet connection can get sloppy or be unavailable and you may find yourself lost in the middle of the road or not knowing which road to choose. Paper maps are, therefore, a must. Don’t forget them!

Book ahead hotel rooms where to stay overnight and the entrance to those popular attractions you don’t want to miss during your road trip. This is especially important if your road trip includes passing through popular attractions or you’re travelling during the high season. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential both for drivers and passengers; it helps rest your body and make everybody less cranky in the car on the next day!

It’s equally important to make note of petrol stations along the way. Who wants to be caught without fuel? Google Maps can be really helpful with this!

Read More: Road Trip Tips For A Safe Drive This Vacationing Season

Pack Wisely

Refrain from completely filling your car with luggage. Even though you won’t have to pay for additional weight, you want to be comfortable since you’ll be spending plenty of time in the car. Keep clothing to a minimum to save space. Choose neutral, comfortable and breathable, loose pieces you can mix and match and wear again.

It’s a great idea to pack a small overnight bag for overnight stops. There you’ll keep your jammies, toothbrush and toothpaste and a fresh set of clothes if needed. You won’t need to unpack the entire car and ramble between bags and suitcases!

Don’t forget to pack a pair of sunglasses. The sun can be dazzling while you’re driving and be really annoying especially if you are behind the wheel. Toiletry items are essential as well: hand gel, wet wipes, tissues are life savers if your hands get sticky or if you need to wipe your hands and there’s nowhere near to wash them. If you’re travelling in the summer months or if you’ll be stopping by the beachpack sunscreen. Needless to say, don’t forget to pack any prescription medicines that you need.

Bring some warm clothes as well. Nights can be chilly or you may need a light coat if the car’s air conditioner is on. Depending on the time of the year when you’re road tripping you may need a thick jacket or more winter clothes.

Bring Healthy and Mess Free Snacks

A cooler full of ice, water bottles, fresh fruit, sliced vegetables and ingredients to make a quick sandwich can be helpful if you get hungry in the middle of the road and there’s nowhere to buy something to eat. Keeping healthy meals at hand makes it easier as well to make healthy food choices.

In addition, pack plenty of mess-free snacks and drinks in individual portions. Look for clear packing bags that are large enough to hold a wide variety and amount of snacks and that your children have easy access to them. Healthy mess-free snacks include whole grain crackers, granola, cereals, nuts, grapes, individually sliced cheeses, apple slices, carrot sticks, almonds, etc. Of course, you can include snack-size chocolate bars, some candies, homemade cookies, potato chips or muffins.

You can always stop at restaurants for a warm or proper meal at night and refill your cooler regularly at markets or groceries.

Read More: Essential Tips for the Perfect Road Trip

Think About Entertainment

Boredom will hit you and other passengers down the road and, if you’re travelling with children, you’ll definitely want to postpone the “Are we there yet?” chant for as long as possible.

Your road trip wouldn’t be complete without some tunes and fun travel games that you can enjoy. Days before the big day ask everybody to contribute with songs or tunes they want to hear and create a road trip playlist!

Electronics can be great friends too! Tablets, mobile phones and individual DVD players can keep youngsters entertained for hours. However, make sure you don’t go overboard with electronic devices and give children time to talk to each other, play traditional car games and enjoy the views! Make sure you have enough chargers at hand as well and that everybody is using headphones so that the driver doesn’t get distracted!