Postcards & Passports

Planning an Epic Road Trip: 7 Mistakes to Avoid

Road trips can be fun and rewarding experiences, providing that you plan them right. Remembering to consider details about your vehicle, the length of your drive, your schedule, and those who are accompanying you wil make all the difference. Below are seven major mistakes to avoid when planning an epic road trip…

1. Choosing the wrong car

Some cars are simply not designed for long journeys. Either they’re way too small for the number of occupants to be comfortable, or they guzzle too much fuel. Ideally, you want a car that’s spacious but fuel-efficient. If you don’t already own a vehicle that meets this description, that could be a sign that you need to rent or buy a new car. Sites like Edmunds can help you to track down the right car for you. 

2. Skipping pre-road-trip vehicle checks

On top of making sure that you have the right car, you need to make sure that your car is in the right condition for a long journey. At the very least, you should make sure that the tires are well inflated and fluids are topped up. A full car inspection could be worth booking before a very long road trip to make sure that there are no major faults that need repairs. It is best to hire a mechanic to do this.

A “trip check” will ensure that belts, filters, oil and coolant levels, tire pressure, batteries, brakes, lights and windshield wipers are what they should be for your trip.

3. Trying to cover too many miles in a day

Ideally, you shouldn’t be driving more than 500 miles or 8 hours per day. After this, fatigue is likely to set in – which could put you and your passengers in danger. You may be able to take turns driving in shifts with someone else, but even so you probably don’t want to be spending too many hours cooped up in a car. It’s best not to put too much pressure on yourself to drive more than 500 miles, as you never know when there may be traffic congestion or other issues to deal with.

4. Leaving no room in your itinerary for spontaneity

If your itinerary is too busy, you may find that there’s no time for spontaneity. There could be quirky roadside attractions that you stumble across while driving. Or you may plan to stop somewhere and find that there’s more to do there than you anticipated. By keeping your itinerary fairly loose, you can make time for any unexpected detours or places you’d like to explore.

5. Failing to research different driving laws

If you’re driving in different states or even different countries, be prepared for a few different driving laws. For example, there could be different speed limits on highways and different laws when it comes to turning at a red light. Passing laws may differ also. There are even states where it is still illegal to pump your own gas! Make sure that you don’t accidentally provoke an unwanted pull-over and subsequent ticket, by doing some research beforehand. 

6. Not entertaining your children enough

If you’ve got young kids in the car, entertaining them could be crucial for both their sanity and yours. Even a road trip with toddlers is possible if you’ve planned ahead. This could include making sure that tablets are charged and downloaded with movies — or that you’ve packed enough toys or activities to keep them occupied. And of course, you absolutely have to have plenty of their favorite snacks. Plan for frequent stops when traveling with kids, to allow them to get their wiggles out (as well as make bathroom stops)

Another way to keep children entertained is to play games with them, like this printable License Plate Game where you get rewarded for every different state you see a license plate from. Or you can play the ABC game where everyone races to find all the letters of the alphabet on signs or license plates.

7. Not packing a cooler

You won’t be able to store certain foods and drinks in your car for long if you don’t have a cooler. This is definitely something worth investing in before you go on a road trip. You can compare car coolers online here at The Drive. Since you’ll probably be stopping often, having a cooler is especially important if you have food in a warm car. You can pack simple items like sandwiches and fruit to save time and money — or you can pack high protein homemade treats like these Peanut Butter Protein Balls. You can even stop at a park and have a picnic to break up the trip.


Planning an epic road trip is a great way for you or your family to have an affordable vacation. With the cost of everything going up these days, a road trip still allows you to get away and enjoy the great outdoors or visits to loved ones farther away. As long as you do some planning and preparing before you go, your epic road trip will make memories that will last a lifetime.

Interested in some of our road trip itineraries? Check out these posts:

Road Trip to Grand Canyon and Sedona, AZ

Road Trip to New Mexico

A 3-day Big Sur Road Trip You Can Duplicate

Road-Tripping the Great Ocean Road

A Tuscany Road Trip to Remember

Enjoy the process of choosing a destination and planning your perfect road trip. Don’t make any of the seven mistakes listed above and you’ll be all set!

planning an epic road trip

Make my day and leave a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.