Planning a road trip? Be sure to check out these 25 useful road trip tips, sure to help you pack smartly and save money on your next trip!

Road trips may possibly be my favorite thing in the entire world! There is just nothing like leaving home for a few days and getting away. Trevor and I are the king of road trips- almost all of our travels have been by driving vs. flying. In fact, this post was inspired by our mini road trip we took this weekend to Kansas City, Missouri, for a Kenny Chesney concert! I actually prefer driving over flying, because there are so many beautiful things out there to see. Give me an open road, a beautiful landscape and some tunes, and I am one happy girl! :)

We have learned a few tips along the way, and I’m here to share them with you!

1.) If you don’t have one yourself, borrow a friend or family members’ gas efficient car. You will be surprised by how much money you save at the pumps! Before I bought my Ford Fusion, we took our road trips in Trevor’s Ford 150. Getting 30 miles to the gallon now is a hella better than when we used to get 19 miles to the gallon with the truck!

2.) Keep coins and loose change with you. For tolls, parking ramps, or exact change when buying food, anything. It comes in handy!

3.) Bring pillows and blankets. It’s not fun sleeping against the window without a pillow to lean on.

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4.) Make a list of everything you need to pack beforehand. It’s so much easier to refer to a list so you are sure that you aren’t forgetting anything !

5.) Be sure that no matter what the occasion of your road trip is, you pack a pair of comfortable shoes/flip flops. Trust me, you don’t want to learn this the hard way like I did!

6.) Before your trip, decide how much money you want to spend total. Take out the cash and try to only use that throughout your trip. That way, you won’t be tempted to use your credit card and go over your budget.

7.) Buy a car phone charger. Because Lord knows we will all die without using our phones!

8.) Make sure you have plenty of water bottles stocked up.

9.) Before you leave, make a few new playlists of songs you haven’t listened to in a long time. There is nothing more annoying than hearing the same songs repeated on the radio over and over.

10.) Always have a first-aid kit available. Top items to include in this should be band-aids (for blisters, usually in my case!), Ibuprofen, icepacks, Dramamine, and tape.

11.) Pack healthy snacks in a cooler. Fast food can only get you so far until you have a permanent date with a gas station rest room. Granola bars, apples, trail mix, and sandwiches are easy and healthy choices.

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12.) Use the Gas Buddy app to help you find the cheapest gas around you.

13.) Always keep jumper cable cords with you in your vehicle. Hopefully you won’t ever have to use them, but it’s good to know they are there just in case.

14.) Keep a few plastic bags with you to put your garbage in while you are driving.

15.) Budget out your expenses before hand. Know how much you plan to pay at each stop, and stick to your budget plan!

16.) Before your trip, invest in AAA just in case you have car issues.

17.) Play the License Plate game when you’re getting bored and sick of driving. Come on guys, it never gets old!

18.) Be sure to know your system of navigation well. If you don’t use a GPS on your iPhone often, get familiar with it. Always have a map just in case you lose wifi at some point.

19.) Book your hotels in advance through sites like Trip Advisor and Expedia. Eventually, you can earn points that will go towards a free stay in the future!

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20.) Visit National parks and landmarks. Many national and state parks/landmarks are free of cost. I’m all for being outdoors and creating wonderful memories without breaking the bank!

21.) Another free thing to do that is a blast is camping. Take advantage of campgrounds and national parks/forests on your drive!

22.) Be sure to pack plastic eating utensils, paper plates, and napkins for eating snacks.

23.) Make sure your vehicle is checked throughly before your trip. Change the oil, be sure your air conditioning is working, check the breaks, check your tires, etc. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

24.) Send frequent text messages to a loved one who knows where you are off to. It is always a safe idea to check in with someone in case of an emergency.

25.) Do most of your driving during the early morning and afternoon. Stay caffeinated! Be sure that you are awake and alert.

Do you take road trips frequently? Where is the last place you went on a road trip? I love to talk travel! Leave me a comment below!

Xoxo,

Like this post? Check out these posts!
10 Best Lessons Traveling Taught Me
Can’t Afford a Cool Trip? Think Again.

  • I need to keep this list handy for the upcoming Honeymoon!

    • Chelsea

      Ahhh! Where are you guys going?!

  • Christine Hawkins

    There is nothing better than an old fashioned road trip. I totally agree with you! You really need to plan ahead and all of these are really great tips.

    • Chelsea

      I believe a good road trip is all it takes to take care of the soul (:

  • PunkyMoms

    We’ve been taking lots of road trips lately and although it seems obvious invest in a map! A lot of times we are in no internet areas so good luck trying to use your phone for directions.

    • Chelsea

      I have learned this the hard way! Phones aren’t always reliable.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with you on the shoes; you don’t how how important a nice, comfortable pair of flip-flops are after you’ve purchased new and uncomfortable shoes for a vacation!

    • Chelsea

      Exactly! I learned this when we were in San Diego. I brought sandals but they were NOT comfortable…ended up buying flip flops on the board walk and they were so expensive!

  • Great list, bestie! I love road trips, but because of my crazy summer with classes and having something that Cory or I had to do every other weekend, it was kind of hard to get away. I personally have AAA and it came in handy at least 4 times last year! Such a great investment. I also love the gasbuddy app!

    • Chelsea

      Bahahah Amanda you NEED AAA because you have car problems quite frequently if I remember lol but yeah roadtrips are awesome. You should plan a fall one! Summer is so crazy- I know how it is. I feel like I have something every weekend too.

  • Such good tips! Dave and I want to take a road trip so badly. Honestly though, visiting his family is basically a road trip. It’s almost 5 hours up to his family, so we’ve definitely learned a lot of these tips for ourselves! I love long driving trips because we always end up having really deep conversations!

    • Chelsea

      Same here! I feel like Trevor and I grow closer on road trips. And yeah 5 hours is definitely one. Where does Dave’s family live?

      • They’re scattered across Upper Michigan!

      • Chelsea

        That’s where my moms’ family is from!!

  • Perfect list! I haven’t been on a legit road trip in FOREVER. I think it’s time to take one.

    • Chelsea

      Jaelan YES! Start planning now!! :)

  • Sandy Dobbs

    Great tips!! We just returned from a road trip to three national parks and you are SO right. We are blessed with some of the most fantastic places to drive to!

    • Chelsea

      That’s awesome, Sandy! What national parks did you guys visit?

  • I love these tips! My husband and I take road trips a lot and we love it. I will definitely use your tips this weekend when we take a road trip!

    • Chelsea

      yay! Where are you guys heading?!

      • We are going to Gatlinburg for a quick family get away!

      • Chelsea

        I have no idea where that is! I’ll look it up :) Have a blast!

  • These are great! My boyfriend and I road trip a lot, and I’ve found these to be true too. Except I ALWAYS tend to forget to bring pillows and blankets. I’m frustrated every time. This was a great reminder :)

    • Chelsea

      C’mon girl you gotta be on top of that! Just kidding but seriously- road trips are awesome :)

  • These are some great tips! I just manage to get along the journey. My essentials are a good music CD like 1989, food, water and fun! :)

    • Chelsea

      I LOVE 1989 OMG

  • Leah Hall

    These are great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    • Chelsea

      Thanks for reading!

  • I LOVE road trips!! My family did these all the time when I was a kid. I totally agree with all of these tips, especially packing healthy snacks. When you’re tired and hungry halfway through the trip, those gas station chips become so tempting! And yes to comfy shoes — slip on/slip off shoes are a must for car travel.

    • Chelsea

      Well I failed to mention that even if we DO pack healthy snacks, we usually end up buying crappy gas station food anyways. But hey, at least we try to be healthy!! lol.

      • Haha! I’ve been known to cave for Smartfood white cheddar popcorn. :)

  • We love road trips! My favorite trips have been road trips to national parks out west as we camped along the way! They usually aren’t free, but it’s pretty inexpensive. Another tip, if you don’t have long to stay, you may be able to find an inexpensive hotel using the guides at rest stops. We pack a cooler so we can skip fast food and eat healthy lunches at each state’s rest stop (though some are better than others). We have also “splurged” and ate out for dinners, for this we (now, thanks to technology) use an app that plots out the restaurants and gas stations at each rest stop!

    • Chelsea

      That’s awesome, Ashley! What national parks have you been to if you don’t mind me asking? You seem to be a lot more healthy than me…I try to pack snacks but I say I only eat those about 50% of the time! I need to check out that app!

  • The last road trip I took was from Dallas to New Orleans to catch a cruise ship back in January. I didn’t have to do any driving there or back and it taught me that I prefer to be the one in the driver’s seat. The backseats of large trucks were not made with long-distance passengers in mind. Haha!

    • Chelsea

      Oh my gosh that would be awful! I would love to go to New Orleans some day. AND a cruise! Both are on my bucket list (:

  • Great tips! Road trips can be long and tiring, but there’s always ways to get through it!

    • Chelsea

      Thanks so much for reading! :)

  • Great Tips! Were about to take our 1st road trip with our 2yr old.

    • Chelsea

      Ahhh! I’ve never traveled with kiddos as I’m not a mom yet. Best of luck, girl!

  • These are such great tips! I prefer driving over flying as well. I think more memories are made in the car than possibly the destination it’s self. I can’t wait to start traveling more. Thanks, Chelsea!

    • Chelsea

      So true! You get to see so much more and the memories you make will last a lifetime!

  • Great tips! I’ve driven cross country (from Boston to Idaho) twice and from Idaho to California and back 6 times. We always pack a ton of snacks and have audio books on hand to keep us entertained.

    • Chelsea

      Oh my gosh so far!! I never thought of audio books. I love my music but that’s another great option!

  • Andele

    I LOVE road trips…well, anything travel really;-) Great tips! I’ll definitely be trying the Gas Buddy App you suggested. I had never heard of that. I’m planning a coast to coast road trip to take our family of four on. Excited about all that we’ll see and do! Thanks again for sharing your helpful tips:-)

    Happy Traveling!!

    • Chelsea

      Hey Andele! Thanks so much for reading! Glad to have helped you. That trip sounds amazing! When are you planning on going?

  • This is awesome and so relevant to me because we are always on the go! We too love tripadvisor and using the gas apps :) We always bring LOTS of healthy snacks too :)

    • Chelsea

      Hey Caroline! You and I live similar lifestyles! I feel like we are always on the go as well. We bring healthy snacks but sometimes the cravings trumph that! hehe.

  • Yes! :) I love road trips as well, in fact, my family goes on a one to two-week long road trip every year. We mainly do it to see the National Parks around the U.S., but we also stop in major cities and check out the sites there too. So I definitely agree with everything you said, especially having snacks, a map, a phone charger, spare change, and plastic bags for garbage. Those are some road trip must-haves haha

    • Chelsea

      Hey Brittany! That’s so awesome you do that as a family! Roadtrips are the best- I hope you continue to do them with your own family some day! 😉

  • abiyeye

    Thank you for your tips it is a lot helpful for me and my wife we love to drive and know places like Acadia National Park and Shenandoah or Blue hole in NYS it is good to learn from you

    • Chelsea

      Aw So glad it helps! Happy travels!

  • Ahhhh, I am BEYOND excited to have discovered your blog. You are incredibly inspiring. I admit “no money” has been my excuse for not travelling and it’s so disheartening to see all these people my age doing these awesome things. I’ve read several of your posts on this matter and finally feel like I can do it! Donating plasma-genius! Thanks:)

    • Aw thanks so much Audrey for leaving that thoughtful comment! I really hope that my posts have inspired you to get out and live your life. Money spent traveling is never wasted :) xo

  • Sarnia

    Great tips! I’ll definitely look into the Gas Buddy app! I’m located in Toronto, Canada and planning a road trip to the east coast of Canada as far as Newfoundland. I’ve already done family trips to the west of Canada and down to Florida but it’s my first non-fam trip planning it ourselves :)

    • That’s awesome! Have a blast!! I would love to explore Canada more.

  • Aurora

    Thank you so much for all these tips! I will be going on a long 20 hour road trip next week from Texas all the way to Virginia.
    My last trip was a couple of weeks ago. We went to go see my grandpa, who had just turned 91 😀 It was a 3 hour drive from Fort Worth, TX to Houston, TX. A short little get away for my husband and I!

    • Yay! I hope you have a blast!! Road trips are the best. We are going on a huge one at the end of August!

  • Dianne Harper Kelley

    Great tips, Chelsea!

    Tips from our travels:
    I also keep a light-weight jacket and/or sweater in the car for unforeseen changes in the weather as well as those early morning or nighttime walks along the beach.

    Don’t laugh, but along with our regular luggage I keep a small “emergency” duffel or backpack tucked in the back of the trunk for those just-in-case moments. I pack a lightweight jacket (as I mentioned above), a couple pair of extra underwear and socks, and a tee shirt or casual shirt. I figured the jeans/shorts can go a couple of days without washing if need be, but sometimes when you’re on the road and stop for a bite of some good ole sloppy junk-food, it’s better to grab the extra tee shirt from the back-pack instead of digging through the suitcase when you aren’t as elegant trying to eat that oh so good chili dog! :)

    I also prefer using a backpack as my emergency pack-away because there have been times when we’ve been heading to one destination and a wave of spontaneity hit us……and we veered to the left for an impromptu hike!

    • Such great tips….thank you for sharing!!! Love the emergency duffel concept!

  • Jennifer Prairie Lovett

    Living near The Great Smoky Mountains, we have a destination in our back yard. But we love road trips, last trip was to Ohio. 5 hr drive, to visit relative. We are headed south this week, and just checking for new tips.
    When we stop I make sure to not only get out and walk, but I do a few stretches, toe touches, twists, so that I get my blood flowing. Always have a extra garbage bag, never know.
    Always carry snaks, and make sure everyone in your group KNOWS that they are available. I low carb-so I must carry my snaks. I get good healthy snaks, but remember a treat.
    My travel cooler-if longer drive, I pack stuff for sandwiches-nicer meats, squeeze mayo and mustard, a nice bottle of pickles. Make it good-not “cheap” as possible. Still save money.
    Keep a travel journal. I used to do this. But have just started again. Writing down all the fun things make happy reading.
    FYI I drive for a living-school bus driver, but I love to drive, my husband is co-pilot.

    • Thank you for sharing your stories! What a wonderful place you live by…the Great Smokies, I can’t imagine what your backyard looks like!