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Whenever you take a road trip it’s important to set up some rules of the road.  A simple road trip tip (or seven) can keep a dream drive from turning into a nightmare.  You want wide-open spaces and adventure, not wrong turns and flat tires.

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Michael and I have taken road trips on five continents, and we’ve made our share of mistakes. But we’ve learned a few things along the way; following a few of these simple road trip tips can make sure your ride goes smoothly:

Road trip tip #1:  Delegate Responsibilities

Will you share driving duties?  Will one of you drive while the other navigates?  Who is responsible for tracking expenses or booking lodging? There is no right or wrong way, but unless you have a mutual understanding of whom does what your road trip will hit a pothole pretty quickly.

Road trip tip #2:  Map it out

Nothing ruins a trip faster than getting hopelessly lost.  Make sure you have a good old-fashioned paper copy map, and you know your route options. GPS and phone apps are great when seeking a specific destination, but they won’t give you an overall sense of the area, and those tiny screens can become tedious. In remote areas it’s also possible that mobile phone coverage will either be unavailable or limited to voice-only calling.

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Road trip tip #3:  Sleep on it 

Regardless of whether you’re staying in a hotel, an RV or a tent it’s a good idea to know where you’ll be laying your head that night. Enjoying a relaxing evening ensures you’ll be refreshed for the next day’s drive.  Putting on an extra miles looking for a place to stop when you’re tired at the end of a long day is draining. Camping by the side of a busy road or getting the last motel room (next to the dumpster) doesn’t exactly promote sweet dreams.

Road trip tip #4:  Let yourself wander

When on a road trip the journey is the destination, which means you should indulge your curiosity along the way. Be realistic about the distance you plan to cover in a day and remember:  it’s the little detours and unscheduled stops that make the trip fun.

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Road trip tip #5:  Food for thought

Depending on where you’re headed, dining options on the road will vary greatly and grumbling stomachs can cause grumpy conversations.  Consider packing a picnic lunch, and keep a few nibbles on hand to stave off hunger and make sure those freewheeling spirits stay high. Be sure to have plenty of water as well.

Road trip tip #6:  Off and running

When you’re 100 miles from anywhere it is not a good time to discover you’re about to run out of gas or you don’t know how to use the jack to change your flat tire. You don’t have to be a master mechanic, but it’s common sense to know a few basics about the vehicle that is a major part of your holiday.

Road trip tip #7:  Music to your ears

There’s something fundamental that links music to a trip on the open road.  Whether it’s “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony or anything in between, be sure to bring music you love. It will enhance the experience while you’re driving, and the soundtrack of your trip will trigger fond memories every time you hear it.

What are some of your favorite road trip tips?

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