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Question of the Week: Tell us your road trip tips

The excitement of a road trip can quickly be overshadowed by some unforeseen turn of events that might have been preventable. Being well prepared will make or break a road trip. We are looking to assemble a list of helpful tips when planning a road trip, so please post yours below.

A road trip has so many aspects that are often minimized. The route selection, vehicle choice, passenger choice (or to have one or not), and of course the all-important in-car snack stock. Screw up one of these and the trip can still be good, but to have a truly great road trip adventure it takes a perfect mix off all the above and more.


Photo Hagerty/Sabrina Hyde

So tell us how you get that perfect mix, or what you just can’t forget when embarking on a vehicular adventure.

Soda pop, or other non expiring type of drinks that you can put into a cup with ice, which usually costs less than a dollar than the same drink which usually costs more than a dollar.
Cell phone.
Toll pass thingy if you’re expecting to go on toll roads.
Camera, some times pictures deserve to be taken with an actual camera than stuck on a cellphone.
Map if your feeling old school.
GPS if you aren’t.

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I have done some very mundane road trips that are high-point memories because of who was in the car with me.

Back in the day the mixed tape prepped especially for the trip —nowadays the playlist (unless you still can do mixed tapes!)

Spare tire and what you need to change it. If you are driving an old car with an unobtainium water pump and they are prone to failing --bring the spare water pump (or whatever) and the parts/tools to swap it.

Freiburger & Finnegan would say “zip ties and duct tape”… if you are taking those 2 with you… bandaids and fire extinguishers!

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Had a great time this fall driving almost 2000 km in the Hagerty Maple Mille 2019. This three day event (four, if you count the drive down) took my wife and I though the beautiful countryside of the Kawartha lakes area in Ontario Canada. A well organized event, great group of people, excellent accommodations & meals made the drive simple. It also means we’ll be doing this event again next fall.

The car preparation for the event (required by the organizers) allowed me to thoroughly go over my prize winning car and find plenty of little things that needed attention. There was also a list of mandatory spares to bring for your vehicle - fortunately I only needed to replace a brake light bulb on day one.

Leaving the organizing to others is my tip… This is a great way to properly enjoy a classic car in a beautiful environment with a fun group of people.

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A good clean windshield with new wiper blades. It makes it easy on the eyes no matter what the weather is. Be sure you have an extra set of keys to your vehicle (or key VOB). Your credit card is good and plenty of credit left for emergency breakdowns. Check that your insurance card is up to date and you have your vehicle registration with you. Also double check you license.
If your car battery is five years old, replace it. If not it will fail on the road trip 30 miles from an auto store. Did I forget to be sure you have a good stack of cassette tapes to listen too!:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Pee before you leave, drink sparingly and if you have children, make sure there are lots of fresh movies on their tablets.

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Definitely an actual paper map to use when there isn’t any signal coverage. Plan the trip well in advance and set the stops, especially if it’s a long trip. Plenty to drink and snacks. Avoid highways and toll roads. Better if the trip is shared with someone else. Tunes lots of tunes including Johnny Cash… Obviously a reliable non boring ride!

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before marriage I did thousands of miles in sports cars solo. After marriage they soon stopped making convertibles in this country so switched to motorcycles. Over 250K miles on them together. Got a balance problem and weak leg from all my fun in SE Asia and switched back to cars with a Honda S2000.
(Best car ever owned)For seeing the country motorcycles are the best. Second is a convertible. Touring this beautiful country, or any country, wrapped up in a cocoon just doesn’t allow one to appreciate the beauty. I must add, the touring was much more fun after I met my lovely wife.

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Take a small pillow or two to pull over at a rest stop and snooze for 15 minutes or so, if you are a senior. Don’t want to fall asleep. Also keep a few cans of Starbucks "Double Shot"s or equivalent in your ice chest. Also of great importance is the “Fuzz Buster” It still saves me a ticket from time to time.

A great group to tour with! GPS and a plan.Abe loves Miatas

In a car, a passenger/driver can be good. On a motorcycle, if you don’t have a clone of yourself riding with you, it can go from slightly irritating to wanting to commit mayhem. I like to ride 8 plus hours, not 12-14 hours at break neck speeds. When I finally parted ways, it was nirvana. Choose wisely. Now I tell my wife I’m going riding with my best riding partner. Myself

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For me, the “ultimate road trip” is still driving the Alaska Highway. Technically, the Alaska Highway runs from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction, but I think the trip must start in the lower 48, and end either in Fairbanks or Anchorage. I have done this about 6 or 7 times.

To do this trip, a “must have” is the book called The Milepost. It is literally a mile by mile listing of all sights and services, and is updated annually (very important). It’s well worth the cost. It also includes other roads besides the Alaska Highway.

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Took a 3000 mile road trip around the Deep South last Spring. Here are some takeaways:

-Deep sixed our original plan to drive there from California and chose instead to fly to Atlanta and rent a car for a big loop. Brilliant call: saved a long drive there and back which would have limited our time in the South, and car rental without a drop-off fee turned out to be crazy cheap. Got a brand new Altima with leather, great stereo and all the latest safety gizmos for less than $30/day.

-Bring along a navigator skilled in Google. Highlights of the trip included
lots of unexpected cool stuff off the highway and some of the most insanely great lunch stops ever. If you take nothing else away from this, take this: Pearl’s Diner in Laurel, MS.

-Don’t plan stops unless you have to. We were able to rejigger our itinerary when Ms. Google discovered along the way that Loretta Lynn’s Birthday Concertemphasized text was being held in Nashville a couple of days before we originally planned to get there. A few magical swipes on her smart phone later we had tix for what turned out to be a phenomenal show and a hotel nearby.

-On a long trip, an AirBnB in the middle can be really, really nice. After two weeks of lots of stops and lots of hotels and restaurant meals, we spent five nights in a very comfy apartment in the Garden District of New Orleans. As soon as we got there we picked up some groceries and made dinner at “home”. Plus breakfast most days. Plus a couple of nights of relaxing and reading or just watching tv. Most important: laundry. By the time we left we were totally psyched for more hotels, restaurants and those blue, blue highways,

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Different kinds of road trips create different needs. As a veteran of several multi-day, one-way road trips that created amazing lifetime memories, I’ll focus my tips on the multi-day type.

First, plan well in advance. Use route mapping (Google Maps or other preferred tool) to find the direct route between your starting and ending points. Adjust the route to avoid states that are not of interest or add states/places that have points of interest worth the detour. Identify interesting things to see and do along the route. Propose these activities to all of your trip companions to finalize the list of stops. This sets the route.

Now, determine the amount of time that will be spent at each stop. Maybe it’s just a stretch break to see the world’s largest ball of twine, but a museum or national park might need several hours. Using the time allotted for stops, determine the distance that will be driven on a given day. For best results, limit driving to no more than 300 miles per day. Book hotels based on each day’s travel. For an especially long road trip (one of ours was 17 days), plan a no-travel day as a break. We visited an amusement park in the middle of our road tip to avoid road trip fatigue.

This method gets you where you need to go while keeping the trip fun and interesting and avoiding too much time in the car in one sitting. Two near-cross-country road trips and a third to send a child off to college netted a lifetime of family memories, the opportunity to visit many states and see many things we might not otherwise have done.

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I had a wonderful road trip one time between Christmas and New years, driving a friend who was relocating to Florida from Toledo, 1839 miles one way. I borrowed a relatively new Ford Econoline Van and removed the middle row seat. She had 3 cats to move and a few boxes of personal items. I took a big plastic tote to hold a big box of Christmas Cookies and other food/snacks out of reach of the cats as well as a big cooler. She could go in back and sit on the rear third row seat and play with the cats while I drove. I told her to dress in layers, bring a blanket and pillow and if she touched the heater or radio controls, I’d break her fingers. She was the only rider I’ve ever had who actually listened to me and kept her hands off the controls thus making it a really nice trip for both of us. As the driver, I want complete control over the heat and the noise on the radio. Riders are just that: riding to a destination. Stayed one night in a motel that accommodated her having the cats and it worked out just fine. I’d do it all over again. Regardless, other than that one trip with another person, my best road trips are alone… don’t need anyone along who nags and wants things their way. It’s great when the spouse doesn’t like riding in a car and will fly while I drive. Works fabulously.

Road trips should not planned. Hotel reservations should not be made. Plans should not be part of a road trip. A true “road trip” is you get in your car, hopefully a vintage, collectible car and head out in the direction you desire. You drive until you feel like stopping, eat when you are hungry and find a room when you want to stop for the day. Some of the best road trips my wife and I have done and we’ve done many were exactly as I’ve described. We have found by doing this we get a much better “flavor” of local life in small towns that are off the beaten path. Also we don’t have “taped” or preprogrammed music. We prefer talking to each other and listening to local radio stations, usually AM stations as we pass thru an area just to get a idea of what day to day life is like in that particular locale. Our style of road tripping is not for everyone but mapping out each and every mile, planning tourist stops, making reservations well in advance is not a real road it is a scheduled destination trip.

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Something to be aware of is that having AAA Plus doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a tow. My wife and I found that out the hard way. We were on a State highway but apparently farther out of range than every tow operator wanted to travel to. Several hours later a driver showed up but told us he did our tow in spite of his boss telling him not to because he felt sorry for us.

ALL of the above have been good responses, but to me the most important things about a road trip is a GOOD restaurant half way through the trip. Every road trip needs a good reason happen and getting a good meal during the trip always makes the trip more pleasant. Several of our local Corvette Club trip were made to a good restaurant (hours away from Home Base), and then a nice meal at the halfway point, and then a nice cruise back in the good company of fellow Corvette club members. Nothing like a long line of Corvettes driving down the road in search of a good meal and good conversation at a new restaurant. The social aspect of being a club member is one of the reasons my wife always likes to join me on these road trips.

I know there are better and safer options, but we travel with dogs and fill the the back of a large SUV with big thick pillows. The dogs love it and can always find a good comfortable spot.