How to Plan a Long Distance Road Trip for Fewer Snags Along the Way!

Last Updated on February 16, 2020 by Diane Hoffmaster

This post about how to plan a long distance road trip has been sponsored by Best Buy.  All opinions are my own.

When I woke up this morning, the first thing on my to do list was to plan a long distance road trip for this summer. Why am I starting my vacation planning in April?  Because planning a family vacation takes more effort than organizing military troops for war.  If you want to have a fun and safe road trip this summer, I thought I’d share a few tips to make your journey a bit more enjoyable.  

Tips for Making Long Distance Road Trips

The Joys of Family Travel

My husband and I live far away from all of our family.  Since the time my kids were babies, we have been making long road trips at least once or twice a year so we can visit with parents, siblings, cousins and grandparents.  Over the years, we have had some good times and some bad while on the road. 

There have been poopy diaper blowouts, flat tires, and vomiting children but there have also been hours of singing, amusing trivia, and incredible memories.  Knowing how to plan a long distance road trip will make your vacation a lot more pleasant.  Whether you are planning a camping trip or driving across the state to visit family, make your drive a lot more enjoyable by being prepared! 

More Travel Tips

How to Plan a Long Distance Road Trip

Want to plan a long distance road trip for this summer?  Don’t be afraid of the idea of traveling with your family!  Just read a few of these travel tips before you get started and make your next family vacation an awesome one!

cell phone on dashboard for travel


Let Technology Make Your Long Distance Road Trip More Enjoyable

I learned to drive in the days before technology really existed.  No, were weren’t using horse and buggies, but there were no cell phones, GPS, travel apps, or other high tech travel toys.  I had a paper map and stopped at a pay phone if I got lost.  Technology can make travel safer, faster, and much more hassle free, which I absolutely love.  

One way to make your road trip safer is to invest in the new Uniden R7 Radar Detector.  No, you shouldn’t use radar detectors to speed and avoid the police.  That is seriously not cool.  However, radar detectors DO monitor your speed for you, making it less likely that you will get pulled over or end up driving faster than is safe for a particular road.  


Click to learn More About the new Uniden R7 Radar Detector.

 Uniden R7 Radar Detector

Enhanced Travel Safety with the Uniden R7 Radar Detector

One of the nice features of this radar detector is that you can set a speed and the device will let you know when you go above that speed. Sometimes, we increase our speed without even realizing it.  Technology can help you prevent that!  The Uniden R7 Radar Detector has voice notification and a MAX speed warning system.  As a result, you will be able to hear when you exceed the preset speed without taking your eyes off the road.  This will enable you to maintain a safe driving speed without constantly glancing at our speedometer. 

Here are a few more key features of this radar detector:

  • Works with most vehicles. You get real-time alerts in your existing vehicle.
  • Color OLED display. The easy-to-see information display provides a clear view.
  • Long-range detection. It offers high sensitivity on all conventional and instant-on radar bands.
  • K-Filter and Ka-Filter.  This filters noise from the K and Ka bands to prevent false detections.

How to Plan a Long Distance Road Trip


Get Your Car Inspected Before Vacation:

No one wants to deal with a breakdown on the side of the road after 8 hours of traveling with kids!  Trust me…been there, done that! Get your car inspected from top to bottom and invest in a AAA membership in case of emergency.  It is not that expensive for a year’s membership and if you run over a nail at 3 AM you will be happy to have someone to come and help you out!

What should I check on my car before a road trip?

  • Change the engine oil of your car. 
  • Check the fluids of your car.
  • Don’t forget to check air pressure in your tires.
  • Examine the tire wear by using tread gauge. 
  • Look at the car’s air filter. Change it if necessary.
  • Make sure all car lights and signals are working.
  • Check the battery life. Replace if needed

map for planning a road trip

Plan Your Road Trip Route Carefully! 

We have learned over the years that even though our GPS wants to take us one way, there is a MUCH more scenic and less traveled highway that will get us where we are going in the same amount of time.  Do some research before you head out.  Check a few different trip websites (AAA, Mapquest, Google Maps, etc) for the best route.  And make sure you plan your stops!  Your road trip will be much more enjoyable if you get out to stretch your legs once in a while.

Best tools for planning a road trip:

    • Google Maps 
    • Waze 
    • Here Maps 
    • InRoute 
    • Scout GPS 
    • Apple Maps (for iPhone)  
    • MapQuest  

How to Plan a Long Distance Road TripHit the library: 

One of our favorite road trip activities is to read.  When my kids were young, I would hit the library and get a book about every state we were driving through.  When we entered that state, we would spend the next couple of hours learning random facts about it like the state bird, capital, and a bit about the history.  Make your road trip educational yet fun! 

Now that my kids are teens, I usually head to the library and grab magazines like Mental Floss, National Geographic, or US News.  Sometimes they even pull their eyes away from their video games to listen to what I am reading.

Confirm Reservations Before You Travel: 

Don’t leave this to the last minute!  Make sure you call the vet and confirm boarding reservations, call the hotel and let them know if you will be arriving late, and call a neighbor and let them know you will be out of town and provide them with your contact information in case of emergency.

How to Plan a Long Distance Road Trip

Pack Carefully For Your Road Trip: 

When you plan your road trip, don’t pack every single thing you own into your car.  If your kids can’t move because they are loaded down with toys. pillows and the pet cat no one is going to be happy.  Pack sparingly and help keep everyone from feeling claustrophobic.

Refill Prescriptions: 

As a pharmacy technician, I saw dozens of people who forget to refill their medications until the day before they leave for their road trip only to discover there are no refills or the prescription is expired.  Don’t wait til the last minute!  Call your pharmacy and/or doctor at least a week before you leave to ensure you have enough medication to last you until your get back from your road trip.

cooler for travel

Stock the cooler before you go: 

Make sure you pack snacks and drinks and don’t forget to grab a package of ice as well.  We usually include an assortment of things that will appeal to both kids and grownups.  Fruit, cheese sticks, crackers and peanut butter, and our favorite snack: Combos!  We pack jugs of water but long trips are tiring and caffeine is a requirement unless we want to fall asleep at the wheel, which is never a good thing!   Our last road trip to Virginia for Father’s Day took 12 hours of driving and we arrived at 3 AM.  Towards the end of the road trip, we were pretty much surviving on caffeine and sugar!

Don’t leave your vacation planning for the last minute!  It takes a while to plan a long distance road trip if you have never done it before so get started now!  The more you plan, the more fun you have and the less stressed out you are! Check out Rand McNally for a printable road trip planner and hit the road this summer!

Have any more long distance road trip tips to share?


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