The road trip is a classic American rite of passage, but planning road trips can be overwhelming. It’s hard to anticipate what you’ll need along the way – and what will slow you down. When you don’t have to pay fifty bucks to check your luggage, it’s tempting to just throw it all in the car. But, this route will leave you with a car full of stuff, none of which is at arm’s length when you need it.

Emergency Car Kit

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want is to break down and not be prepared for a long wait or to be caught in harsh weather conditions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests having resources such as food, water, phone chargers, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, and blankets. Other tools to have handy in case of an emergency are a flashlight, batteries, antifreeze, a tire inflator, and umbrellas.

Plan your road snack pack before you hit the highway. A small insulated cooler is a road trip must-have, as are small food storage containers or resealable baggies (the snack-sized kind are perfect for portion control) to keep finger foods ready to go. The best snacks for a road trip are the kind that will keep you feeling full longer so you’ll be less likely to eat out of boredom. You’ll not only keep your energy up but your belt-size intact.

Whether you’re driving for a few hours or a few days, it is important to choose music that make your excursion a memorable one. Create a playlist using these essential road trip tunes, or your favorite songs, to make the drive just a little bit easier.

Make an itineraryItinerary

Build and manage full itineraries, discover stops along the way, book hotels, and so much more with a road trip planner. This tool can help you optimize your route to save time and gas. The majority of road trip planners also allow the user to import, export, and synchronize trip plans to their smartphone or GPS device.

Before hitting the road, it is wise to get your car serviced. When planning road trips it is easy to forget this. Driving long hours through different towns is not an ideal time to break down. An oil change, tire pressure inspection, and tire rotation are just a few things to get done before heading out. The DMV’s car maintenance checklist is a handy guide, along with any advice from your auto shop.

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