How to Plan a Road Trip

Planning a road trip takes a lot more work than rounding up your group of friends, packing your bags, and setting out on the wild, open road! We wish it could be that simple, but without some pre-planning for the trip, you can end up with major problems, a lot of frustration and possibly some heavy bills for your car. 

Through our travels, we have embarked on many road trips together and separately. This is one of our favourite ways to travel and sight-see at the same time! We’ve traveled from one side of the Iberian peninsula, to the complete opposite side, in on week. We’ve driven through different states, through different autonomous regions, and have consumed one too many bags of chips while driving.

Since road trips are our favourite type of travel, we decided to help y’all plan out a successful, budget friendly and unforgettable one. Cars and group of friends are not included, but if you call us, we’d be happy to join you!

  1. Pick your “end” destination
    This should be easy. Where do you and your friends want to ultimately end up in? Picking your “end” destination doesn’t need to be concrete, but it will give you a general idea of where you want to go, what you want to do there, how you can get there, and will make the planning process much easier. Having an “end” destination in mind helps you to pick a main route you’d like to follow, save you gas money and save you from getting “too lost”. 

    We totally recommend detours and stopping in areas that grab your attention, and if in the end you and your friends decide that you want to completely change your plans, we are all up for it! At least having an end “goal” guide your road trip.
  2. Prep your car or rent a car
    Although road trips are exciting, they do add a lot of mileage to your car. The most important step, we think, is prepping your car for this long journey. If you don’t think your car will make it, rent a car or an RV for the trip! We’ve always wanted to rent an RV and take it cross country, but unfortunately haven’t had the chance to. Here are some things to check before you start the trip AND some things that are necessary to keep in your car while you’re driving.

    - check the oil
    - make sure your AC and heater work in the car
    - make sure you have gotten your inspection and have the correct tags

    Things to have in your car:
    - extra tire
    - car jack
    - oil
    - flashlights/accident kit
    - toolbox (this is pretty important, and we carry a small one with us whenever we travel)
  3. Make a “piggybank” of money from everyone going on the trip
    Money is always an awkward subject; at least it is for me (Cassandra). Mario is better about it since he is a bit more assertive than I am. There’s a great system that we have adopted for all of our travels, groceries, or anything that we buy. In Spanish, it is called “bote”. At the moment, I have no idea how to translate that word (oops). How it works is that we each put in the same amount of money in a wallet that we use to pay for everything while we are traveling. This includes gas, meals, grocery shopping, and any other trinkets that we want.

    It’s an easy way to keep track of money so that one person doesn’t pay more than the other, and we don’t always have to keep tallies about who paid last time, how much do we owe each other, etc. Our recommendation is to make a “bote” with everyone going on the trip. This can be used for gas, snacks, meals, drinks, and other things. Once you run out of money in “bote”, everyone can put in more. If people want to buy specific things for themselves, they can pay for it out of their own pocket (i.e.: a souvenir from a town they really loved). 
  4. Start planning your route
    Now we’re getting to the fun part! You now have an idea of your “end” destination, but the fun part is planning out the route you’ll take! It’s important to look through maps and see which routes have tolls roads and which don’t. I’m sure most of you don’t want to pay for tolls, so make sure to plan your route accordingly to avoid them. You can also talk with your friends to see if there are any smaller towns or cities you’d like to visit along the way. 

    Don’t forget to plan for where you’ll be sleeping! You can usually find smaller towns that have cheaper hostels, Air BnBs or even try couch surfing. Or, look into camping if your road trip is during the summer! 
  5. Go on your trip! 
    After planning out your route, making sure you have enough money to pay for gas and other necessities, checking/prepping your car for the journey, it’s time to embark on your road trip! We love road trips and planning them, especially driving to different areas in Spain or from Spain to Portugal! Remember that although you’ve got a bit of a plan, it’s totally fine to change it. We usually have an idea of our plan but if something else comes up or we like somewhere better, we always take the opportunity to explore it. 

Have you been on a road trip before? What other tips do you have? If you need help planning a road trip, don’t hesitate to contact us so we can help you!