How to Make Your Road Trip a Success

You’re out of your parents’ place and hungry to see the world for the first time on your own, but limited to the budget of a college student. No problem! Follow a few of these tips to help make the most of your exploring.

My sister and I recently hopped in our 2011 “mom car”, headed west to see the ocean for our Thanksgiving break. San Diego was our destination, but that’s about all we knew. With a “we’ll wing it” mindset, our only agenda was to lay in the sand and have some acai. Here are a few things we would suggest to ace your next road trip…

  1. Make a playlist

The radio gets old after about two hours when you’ve heard “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran about 5 times already. Make a playlist with a variety of genres, throwbacks, and those songs you can’t help but belt out beforehand. Download it; this way you won’t have to waste that precious data. Having a solid playlist that will last you a few hours is essential and will make those long stretches of highway fly by. Also, add a motivational podcast or sermon in the queue.

  1. Have good company

In life in general, it is so important to surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you and that you are sure to have a fun time with. Luckily, my sister is one of my best friends. While there were times I wish I had an eject button under her car seat (too far?), we had extended time to just talk about each other’s lives and we shared memories together that will last a lifetime.

  1. Google free things to do

Google and Yelp are your two best friends on a vacation. Spending hours at the beach and going hiking were two of the highlights of our trip and both didn’t cost a dime. Check for free museums or visit landmarks. Or go window shopping in a popular area (if you have better self-control than me).

  1. Split meals

So, what happens when you see a super cute waterfront restaurant on Instagram, but your minimum wage income will not be happy about those entrée prices? You don’t have to say no to those spots. Share a dish and stop for ice cream on the way back to your hotel if you’re not fully satisfied. It’s a win-win situation.

  1. Ask for suggestions

Most people will love to show off the place they live. Fortunately, we had a few friends from the area who were kind enough to keep us company and willing to show us around. If you aren’t able to meet up with friends, ask people while you’re out what their favorite restaurants are or message someone you know on Instagram for their “must do” list.

  1. Avoid paying for parking

This may mean parking a little further away from your location and walking or check if it’s cheaper to take an Uber from your hotel out to dinner.

  1. Take lots of pictures

I’m a firm believer that you only regret the pictures that you didn’t take. Photos are a way to make your trip seem to last a little longer.

What are the essentials for your road trip adventures? Don’t let money (or too much homework) keep you from seeing more of this great world.

13 thoughts on “How to Make Your Road Trip a Success

  1. Road trips are super fun and a great way to bond with friends! A couple summers ago, a friend and I drove all the way to Tennessee for Bonnaroo music festival. A good playlist is definitely key! Thanks for sharing this post 🙂


    1. I agree. I am so close to the people I go on road trips with. Being in a small place together for hours is such a great excuse to talk about life together. What were you playing on your road trip to Tennessee?


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