Still don’t quite have that beach escape or nature getaway planned yet? Stop worrying and start planning. There’s something inherently spontaneous about embarking on a road trip—and it’s an ideal option if you’re not the best at planning ahead. Hopping in the car echos those old school Thelma and Louise vibes we crave come summer, plus it’s often way more cost-effective than springing for a plane ticket (we can’t all be so lucky to travel for free). Watching the scenery go by from your car window, jamming to your favorite tunes, and sharing the moments with a best friend or loved one is what the season is all about. Nervous because this is your first-ever road trip rodeo? We’ve got you covered. Read on for our checklist and a guide to getting the most mileage out of your trip.
1. Map out your route
First things first: Find your route. Of course, now we’re all blessed to have easy-to-use map apps in the palm of our hand, but you’ll want to make sure you have a clear idea of a few things. Your final destination, how long you want to be in the car, and how many fun (and necessary) stops you want to make all factor into finding your best route. Trust us, making a few decisions before you hop in the car will save you time and unnecessary stress down the road.
2. Plan a loose itinerary
The best part of a road trip is the flexibility you give yourself by being your own source of transportation. Setting a loose itinerary of places you want to stop, places you’re going to stay, and attractions you want to see gives you a better idea of how to time the trip.
3. Curate your killer travel playlist
It is imperative to craft a playlist filled with good vibes and energizing songs—you’ll thank yourself when the driving starts to feel endless. Current hits mixed with some classics will get you singing along and make the hours fly by. Just make sure to pack all the necessary cords (think aux to plug-in, plus any chargers for your passenger) to keep the music going. Check out this summer kickoff playlist for a bit of inspiration.
4. Pack up the car
Whether you’re renting or driving your own vehicle, you want to make sure you have all the essentials. Think your favorite pair of sunnies, sunscreen (lets not forget that windshields won’t protect you from UV rays), and even a cute pair of driving gloves if you really want to go all out. A cooler for keeping drinks and snacks cold, first aid kit, pillow for added coziness, and a roadside emergency kit are also good to throw in. Check out some of these affordable essentials for more ideas.
5. Track your memories
When two of our editors embarked on a weeks-long road trip, they created their own hashtag so family and friends could follow along with their journey on social media. It’s also an easy way to look back at your posts and easily remember your fabulous, spontaneous trip.