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Road Trip Planning 101

IMG_9481One of the staples of young adult life is the road trip. The practice has been glorified in many a film and by countless hours of TV shows. Of course, the reality of it all is that it isn’t easy to plan a perfect trip. There’s much to consider and a lot really boils down to budgeting. Of course there are some intangibles here so what we’re going to do today is go over what I believe are the most important aspects of planning a trip with friends.

Assemble the group

Sometimes, this is already done for you. If not, the biggest thing to consider is chemistry. Is everyone going to vibe well? Let’s remember, it only takes one ass to shit on everyone’s parade.

Arrange transportation

Obviously, a road trip by definition is inclusive of a road-faring vehicle. Here, aside from making sure everyone has a seat, there are other things to consider. How many people are going? Would it be beneficial to have one large car or a few smaller cars once you arrive at your destination? What is the budget? How far are you going? All these things matter. My general rule of thumb is, “When in doubt, get a rental.” Always get the no-deductible insurance coverage. You can either A) be sad that your rented ride is smashed up, or B) you can be high fiving your friends because that $15 bucks extra you paid per day has just saved you thousands.

Arranging transportation means also selecting drivers. Going extra long distances? Make sure there is an extra driver in every car ready to take over for any road snoozers.

Arrange shelter

What you’re doing will have a huge impact on the type of housing you secure. If you’re camping, my suggestion is to expect that you need 1.5 times the space a tent company says they’re providing. For instance, if a tent reads that it fits 6 people, think you’ll be sleeping 4 comfortably. Booking rooms? The ceiling is as high as you want it to go, but I favor hotels, here’s why: A) they allow credit cards, B) housekeeping services, C) the amenities (pool, gym, theater, internet, etc) and D) free cancellations.

Arrange activities

If the purpose of your trip has a definite goal such as following a band on tour, going to a music festival, attending a convention, competing in a sporting event, etc., this won’t be a problem. However, if your goals are more nebulous like “going camping” or “visiting a national park”, you’re going to find that a little preparation goes a long way. A 5 minute trip to a website about the area and print outs of important addresses/maps/calendars will keep you out of the crushing weight of boredom. Especially when the bars representing your only link to civilization disappear from your phone.

Acquire food or make a plan

Everyone has to eat. That’s a no-brainer. If you’re leaving civilization, you need to make sure that you get everything you need during your pre-trip shopping run. Chances are, the further you get from street lights and city skylines, the more expensive things get. It sounds dorky, but create a list. Sometimes it helps to set menus ahead of time so you know what to buy and it eliminates the horrid conversation everyone has had that starts, “So what do you want to eat?” and ends with “anything” or “I don’t know.”

If you plan to go into an urban area, it is also good to scout out some restaurants that will accommodate your group, especially if your head count is over 10. At the very least, you could have a list of restaurants ready just in case anyone asks, “What’s around?”

That’s about it. Hopefully this helps all you folks in your quest in planning the ultimate road trip. If I left anything out, please feel free to share in the comments since I myself am in the midst of planning a trip coming up in a few months. Seriously. Any additional tips would be appreciated.

Alex S. Pak
A young professional with a passion for rhetoric. He was born and raised in Southern California where he attended high school and college. Alex focused his studies on the humanities and is a keen observer of the human condition. In is spare time, enjoys reading, watching movies, and partying like a rock star.

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