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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips. This article was updated May 14, 2020.

You. Your car. And the open road. You’ve stayed home the past few months, but now it’s time to look ahead and start planning an all-American road trip. Whether you’re traveling from skyline to coastline or ditching your digs for the great outdoors, being prepared is key. Below are some simple tips to help make sure your adventure is less about the destination and more about the smooth, care-free journey.

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Prep your car

This one might seem obvious, but beyond topping off the gas, you’ll want to make sure your car is in top shape to take on the bumps and curves of unfamiliar territory. It’s a good idea to get a fresh oil change and routine checkup (ensure tires are properly inflated, windshield wipers work, etc.). Plus, if unexpected surprises happen along the way, knowing how to jump start your car or change a tire can easily save the day.

Prep an emergency kit

Pack a generous emergency kit filled with water, a first aid kit, a flashlight, batteries and extra phone chargers. Flares are helpful, too, just in case you have to pull to the side of the road. Be sure to also toss in a few blankets and pillows in case you have to do some last-minute car camping.

Gather your documents

This is also an ideal time to make sure your car’s registration and insurance are up to date. Double check to see if you have adequate coverage and make adjustments as needed. Get familiar with your insurance company’s roadside assistance program—many include towing. Look for coverage that will help you get out of a jam if anything happens along the way. It may come in handy if you break down in a not-so-great area. Once you’ve got your insurance set, print out your ID cards or have them ready on your smartphone. Heads up: Some states don’t accept electronic ID cards as proof of insurance, so it’s smart to have a paper copy.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash on select flights, use it toward hotels—it’s that easy!

Download the best apps

Your smartphone is a wealth of knowledge. Use it! You can navigate your entire trip through GPS or Google Maps, but if you’re headed to a rural or mountainous area, be sure to download your map so you can use it offline: Just search for your destination on the map and then tap the name or address of the place, select “download” and voila! Another great option for road warriors is a travel app like CheapTickets—book last minute hotels or even activities in destinations along the way, with just a few taps. Plus, sign up for CheapCash and you can earn rewards on select flights that you can use toward your next hotel, right in the app. Plus, you can stay in the know with real-time updates. And while technology is great, it’s always smart to pack a paper map, just in case. No cell phone service could mean no directions … and that would be no good.

Load up on healthy snacks

We’ve all been there. You’re driving along when suddenly hunger strikes. It may be tempting to pop into the nearest convenience store or zip through a fast food restaurant, but a lot of times, that means extra time, money, calories and the much dreaded road-trip gut rot. Save time by saving any major stops for lunch or dinner when you need to take a real break. The best snacks to pack are non-perishable, easy-to-transport items like trail mix, nuts or pretzels. If you have room for a cooler, toss in a few bottles of water, fruit or cheese. Remember to grab napkins and hand sanitizer and you’ll be set.

Tune your playlist

Every epic road trip needs a great soundtrack, right? There are plenty of “car-inspired” songs out there, but assemble a playlist with tunes that you know your passengers will love, too. If you’re heading somewhere warm, maybe reggae or tropical tunes will get you in the mood. Or if you find yourself on a bunch of dirt roads, try some country. There are always podcasts, audio books or comedy channels if you get sick of music. Try downloading some of these to your smartphone beforehand so you can still listen to them if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and lose your coveted cell signal. And if nothing else, you can always usually count on the radio to offer, well, something.

Finally, hit the road!

Your bags are packed, the car is ready and it’s time to take on the open road. Go confidently knowing you’ve got everything covered. Happy travels!

Alicia Liken is a senior copywriter at Esurance, writing about all things related to auto insurance. She spent most of her career in the Detroit advertising community before making the move to Chicago and most recently, San Francisco. She’s road tripped all over the United States but her favorite excursion will always be Michigan to Florida in the spring.  


Tagged: Cheap Tips, Family, Tips & advice, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Alicia Liken

Alicia Liken

Alicia is a senior copywriter at Esurance, writing about all things related to auto insurance. She spent most of her career in the Detroit advertising community before making the move to Chicago and most recently, San Francisco. She’s road tripped all over the United States but her favorite excursion will always be Michigan to Florida in the spring.
Alicia Liken

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6 thoughts on “6 tricks for the perfect road trip”

  1. I planing go to Mendoza,Argentina in December and I need a ticket with luggage ? including and pay a little for the extra one.
    When is the best time to buy a ticket with the cove19 situation?

  2. Sort of interesting–it’s recommended to download directions and a map in case there is no cell coverage where you go. I have these curious pieces of paper with lines and symbols on them. Called road maps. Only problem is the age-old process of trying to refold them once they are open!!!

  3. Why does the accompanying photo have a bunch of unrelated young people WITH NO FACE MASKS ON? Face masks are an effective block to the transmission of Covid-19. Young people without face masks are the primary reason that Covid-19 is spiking all over the country and the number of dead and permanently disabled Americans is climbing precipitously. You could be a force for good and instead you are distributing dangerous pablum. Either change the photo to comply with the CDC’s recommendations or I will (1) unsubscribe, and (2) launch a media informational campaign exposing your irresponsibility.

  4. I was hoping for some advice for safely using public restrooms on a road trip during the pandemic.

  5. Many of these items are great but I wouldn’t recommend road or railroad flares.
    The chance of starting a fire will be greatly increased. Get a battery powered
    flashlight with red and/or flashing lights. They last longer than flares can be recharge-
    able and are multi-use.

  6. Wonderful blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to
    get there! Thanks

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