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Preparing for a Perfect Road Trip

Taking a road trip? Here are some planning tips for a smooth adventure. 

couple with a road map on the car hood, image
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For a smooth trip, plan your route ahead of time unless, that is, you enjoy serendipity.

The road trip is a summer ritual, one that combines the thrill of the open highway with the comfort of your own car. A little advance planning can save you money, spare you headaches, and keep you rolling smoothly even when the road gets rough. Consider these suggestions before you pile the gang into the car.

Tune ’er up

Nothing can spoil a road trip like car trouble. Make sure your vehicle is in shape for the drive with a visit to a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop. You’ll get a free vehicle inspection with any paid service (such as a pretrip oil change or tune-up). If, despite your preparations, you need a mechanic en route, there are 8,000 approved shops in North America.

Make a realistic budget

Before you hit the road, calculate what you can reasonably afford to spend each day. Restaurant meals and lodging add up quickly, but AAA can help with member discounts on hotels, museums, amusement parks, and more.

Know your route

The TripTik Travel Planner lets you map your itinerary and make adjustments on the fly. This handy online tool also helps locate gas stations, points of interest, campgrounds, and electric-vehicle charging pods, as well as hotels and restaurants with Diamond ratings. Prefer paper? Members can pick up maps and TourBook guides for free at AAA branches close to home or on the road.

Pack snacks

You’ve refueled the car, but what about the passengers? A car-size cooler stocked with sandwiches, fruit, and drinks will help cut down on expensive, time-consuming pit stops and keep you from filling up on gas-station junk food.

Stay flexible

The best road trips aren’t just about traveling from point A to point B. Stay open to adventure. Sometimes there’s nothing like a detour to remind you that the journey to your destination is half the fun.

This article was first published in Summer 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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