A checklist for the best road-trip experience
American buyers love their pickup trucks and the full-size models are the top-selling new vehicles of any type in the USA every year. However, read any Chevy Colorado review, you’ll quickly realize why mid-size trucks are also rather popular. Natural rivals for the Colorado in terms of size, available configurations, and general performance include the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. The latter is the top-selling truck in the mid-size segment. Dual-cab trucks are popular for road trips because they can go many places cars cannot and accommodate quite a bit of cargo in the bin.
Yes, a Chevrolet Colorado or Ford Ranger is not quite as big as Silverado or F-150, but if you’re touring two-up or with children and you don’t put adults on the back seat, a mid-size truck is ideal. In fact, some people might prefer the smaller form factor if all that much space is not required because there are several advantages to a smaller truck on such a trip:
- It’s easier to maneuver, drive, and park
- Its reduced length, height, and weight makes it more agile off-road
- It has better gas mileage than a large truck
- It has more car-like handling and is more nimble on the road
- It offers many full-size truck advantages, like increased height and off-road ability
Getting Ready For The Trip
Regardless of whether you are using a car, truck, crossover, or SUV, preparing for the journey would be much the same and to this end, it is important to do your homework to ensure a safe and enjoyable time away. Your time is your own, there are no flights to catch and no public transport to worry about. It’s just you, your family, and off you go. This is what makes road trips so great. However, it also places all the responsibility of the preparations and your family’s safety in your hands, so it does require far more planning.
Here are a few of the most important things to keep in mind before you depart:
- Preparing your vehicle. Your car must be fully roadworthy and freshly serviced, with its wipers, brake pads, and tires in good condition (including the spare!) and all its engine fluids topped up. Have any niggling issues attended to – you can’t risk an unreliable car away from civilization. If you’re using a pickup truck, have a lockable, weatherproof bin cover installed to keep your belongings safe and dry. Keep all the basic tools in the car, including all you need to change a tire. Make sure you know how to change your car’s tires. Consider fitting your vehicle with new car accessories for protection, such as weatherproof liners and floor mats. These will make the interior easier to clean when you’re on the road.
- Preparing your home. Clean your home, finish laundry, take out the garbage, unplug and switch off whatever you need to, arrange care for your pets, and ensure someone is checking your house periodically.
- Plan your route. Use Google Maps or Waze to plan your route, leaving plenty of time for stops, sightseeing, and the like. Don’t try to do many miles a day at the expense of the holiday experience. Carefully plan fuel stops and don’t overestimate your vehicle’s fuel economy; rather be conservative. Browse the internet for great itineraries for your planned route. Try to stop somewhere every two hours to relax and walk around, and have en-route entertainment ready to while away the hours.
- Create a budget. Set a budget for the trip, taking into account all your expenses, such as food, attractions, accommodation, and fuel. Set a limit on your daily spending and always keep some cash on you for places that might not accept card payments.
- Potential tourist attractions. Plan according to which stops will include visiting attractions and natural features – and book these in advance if necessary, especially if they’re popular.
- Accommodation. Book accommodations in advance, whether these are hotels or campsites, so you don’t end up without a place to overnight. It’s fun to be spontaneous and just show up in a town and hope for the best, but it makes planning and budgeting difficult.
- Compile a packing list. Make sure you don’t forget anything and tick items off your list. This includes a dashcam, car chargers, chargers and charging cables, insect repellent, sunscreen, the right attire, necessary documentation, binoculars, toiletries, a first-aid kit, swimwear, and many more. Pack your car the evening before.
- Paperwork. Be sure to have your license and registration handy, as well as proof of insurance and identification – and passports, if required.
- Food. Prepare food for the road and take along enough liquids. If you are preparing food yourself every night and not eating out, take along everything you need. Buy fresh produce in the towns you visit and store them in a cooler box.
- COVID-19. Observe any COVID-19 requirements, have enough masks and sanitizer in the car, and ensure that places you are visiting are in fact open and accepting guests.
Great Road Trips To Try
If you are traveling the US, here are a few great road trips just begging to be driven:
- US-50. Called The Loneliest Road, it runs from the US’s east to west coast.
- Blue Ridge Parkway. Through the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia to North Carolina.
- Anchorage to Valdez. The ultimate Alaskan road trip.
- Pacific Coast Highway. This famous highway runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
- The Great River Road. Along the Mississippi, all the way from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.
Good planning is essential if you want to ensure a trouble-free trip, but unforeseen circumstances could arise, so be sure to let home-base know where you’re heading and when you’ll be where. Have all the necessary emergency numbers on hand too. A road trip is an adventure to look forward to, but there’s no point leaving too little time for it and rushing the experience. With some forethought and planning, you can look forward to a grand adventure!