26 Tips For The Perfect Summer Road Trip in 2024

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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No matter your typical travel patterns, planning a summer road trip at least once is highly recommended. There is a certain thrill to driving without constraints, making your own decisions, exploring new and unknown routes, and enjoying the freedom of the open road. This guide provides a few tips on planning a summer road trip in 2024.

Road trips are our preferred vacation, and we have been honing our skills over the years. We are now self-proclaimed experts on road-tripping and can offer you the best tips and advice on planning a memorable summer road trip.

Discover our top tips and tricks for planning the ultimate summer road trip and making unforgettable memories!

What does a road trip mean?

A road trip typically involves traveling long distances by car to get from one place to another. It’s important to note that road-tripping specifically refers to traveling by car, not with an RV or campervan. The latter eliminates the need to find overnight accommodations while on the road.

Moreover, a camping road trip generally involves ending up at a designated camping spot. In contrast, a classic road trip is about journeys from point A to point B without limitations or restrictions.

Whether you begin your road trip from home and venture across your country or fly to a destination and rent a car, exploring new places on the open road will capture your heart and leave you with unforgettable memories. Keep reading to learn more about how to plan the ultimate road trip.

What is a road trip?

Why road trip is the best way to travel?

Traveling is a highly personal experience, and individual preferences and opinions vary greatly. However, road trips hold a certain charm and are often regarded as the best way to travel. One of the most significant advantages of road trips is their flexibility, allowing you to plan your vacation according to your preferences and make spontaneous stops and decisions along the way.

Without being tied down to a strict itinerary, you can fully enjoy the freedom of the open road and create unforgettable memories.

How To Plan A Summer Road Trip

Planning a summer road trip can be an exciting experience, but it also requires adequate preparation, regardless of the type of road trip you have in mind. We have compiled our top tips to help you plan the perfect road trip this summer. Discover our expert advice and make your next road trip unforgettable.

1. Define your budget

Before embarking on planning your road trip, it’s essential to take care of your budget. You’ll need to determine how much money you’re willing to spend on your vacation, including the costs of getting to your starting point, renting a car, or ensuring that your vehicle is in good condition for the journey.

This budget calculation is crucial as it will help you make informed decisions when choosing your destination and booking accommodations and activities. While it can be difficult to estimate your day-to-day expenses while on the road, having a rough idea of how much you’re willing to spend each day is still a good idea.

2. Choose a destination

It may sound like unconventional advice, but having a specific goal for your road trip is essential. Without a clear destination, you risk aimlessly wandering around a country that may not provide the fulfilling vacation experience you want.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with wandering and stumbling upon unexpected adventures, but it’s best to have a clear destination in mind for a more structured and satisfying trip. Additionally, if you’re flying into a specific country, you’ll need to plan to either return to your starting point or end your journey in a different location. Remember that this may affect the cost of your trip, not only due to the cost of airfare but also because returning your rental car to a different location may incur additional fees.

itinerary road trip

3. Choose your itinerary

After selecting your destination, the next step is to plan your itinerary carefully. This involves identifying the attractions and sights you want to see along the way and selecting the best route to travel to each destination safely.

To plan your itinerary effectively, you’ll need to study maps, read travel guides, and research the area to understand what is feasible within your timeframe. It’s a good idea to plan a specific itinerary for each day of your road trip to ensure that you stay on track and make the most of your time. Additionally, booking accommodation in advance can provide peace of mind and ensure you have a place to stay each night.

4. Have a loose plan

After finalizing your itinerary, reviewing it, and ensuring it’s not overly tight or rigid. Despite your best efforts, unexpected events may arise while on the road, such as a sudden change in plans due to discovering a new and exciting destination, unexpected vehicle issues, or unforeseen traffic delays.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s important to avoid overscheduling and allow yourself some flexibility to adjust your plans as necessary. While planning your trip thoroughly is essential, leaving room for spontaneity and unexpected experiences is equally important.

5. Book flights

Assuming that you’re road-tripping from another country and not using your car, the next step after finalizing your itinerary is to book your flights. For example, if you’re traveling from Ireland to Los Angeles and planning a road trip through California, your priority would be booking a comfortable and convenient flight to Los Angeles.

It’s advisable to book your flights as soon as possible, as prices tend to rise as the departure date approaches. Additionally, being flexible with travel dates and times can help you find the best deals and save money. When booking flights, it’s a good idea to compare different options and try different combinations to ensure you get the best possible price for your trip.

Skyscanner is our preferred platform for booking flights. It offers the most competitive prices and durations and recommends alternative dates and destinations if we have flexibility in our travel plans or are unsure of where to go.

6. Rent a car

After booking your flight, the next step is to book your rental car, which requires careful consideration to avoid problems during your trip. First, consider your needs and the number of people traveling with you. You should also consider the duration of your road trip, the attractions you plan to visit, and the type of roads you’ll travel on.

Based on your itinerary, you may opt for a larger or smaller car, an SUV if you plan to venture into the wilderness, or a standard vehicle if you’ll primarily drive on highways. You should also consider weather conditions, such as the need for robust air conditioning when traveling to hot climates.

When choosing a rental car, focus on comfort and functionality rather than luxury or style. Avoid the temptation to book an overly large vehicle and instead choose one that is practical and suitable for your needs. Based on our experience, we recommend selecting a comfortable and functional car for your road trip.

We rarely stick to one provider regarding car rental and instead use Skyscanner’s Comparison Tool to find the best option.

rent a car road trip

7. Review your budget

Once you’ve booked your flights and rental car, reviewing your budget is important to ensure you have enough funds for the rest of your trip. Subtracting the total amount spent so far from your initial budget will give you an idea of how much you can allocate towards accommodation and daily activities on the road.

Planning daily activities can be challenging, and being flexible and open to change is recommended. Overplanning and sticking to a rigid schedule can take away from the pleasure of the road trip and limit your ability to enjoy unexpected experiences along the way fully

8. Book hotels and accommodation

After reviewing your budget, the next step is to book your accommodations. With your day-by-day itinerary, decide on a price range and look for the best places to sleep along your route. It’s important to ensure that your accommodations are at a reasonable distance from your last stop of the day, so you don’t drive for hours to reach your hotel after visiting an attraction.

While some people prefer to book accommodations on the go, we recommend planning to ensure you stay in safe and comfortable places. Booking ahead can also save you time and help you avoid unpleasant surprises. Choose hotels and accommodations that do not require immediate payment and can be canceled without penalty up to 24 hours before your stay. This provides flexibility and ensures you don’t lose money if you need to make last-minute plan changes.

Booking.com is our go-to platform for booking accommodations during road trips. The website’s extensive range of options and flexible booking conditions make it a reliable choice. Moreover, the customer support is excellent: during one of our road trips, we encountered an unexpected obstacle due to heavy snowfall and couldn’t reach the hotel we had booked. However, with a quick call to Booking’s customer service, we secured a new hotel within minutes, ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience.

9. Buy your travel insurance

Travel insurance is an essential consideration for any road trip, and it’s highly recommended that you invest in comprehensive coverage before hitting the road. Without insurance, you risk incurring exorbitant medical costs if something happens to you while traveling, and some countries may even deny medical treatment without proof of insurance.

When selecting a travel insurance policy, covering all aspects of your trip, including medical expenses, trip cancellation or interruption, and personal liability, is crucial. While opting for a cheaper policy may be tempting, we recommend investing in comprehensive coverage to ensure you’re fully protected in an emergency.

While it’s true that the likelihood of something happening during your road trip is low, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. By investing in travel insurance, you’ll have peace of mind and can enjoy your road trip to the fullest.

Make sure you have travel insurance!
Before traveling, ensure you have active travel insurance to avoid issues of any kind. Check our travel insurance comparison for an informed choice!
Gap of Dunloe Ireland

18 Best Advice on How To Plan A Summer Road Trip

As you prepare to embark on your road trip, there are a few final tips to keep in mind to ensure that your journey is smooth and enjoyable.

1. Check local laws and rules

Before embarking on your road trip, it’s crucial to research the driving rules and regulations of the country you’ll be visiting. Speed limits, road conditions, and local driving customs can vary significantly from what you’re used to, so it’s essential to be prepared.

For example, if you’re driving in Ireland, you’ll need to drive on the left side of the road. While this may take some time to get used to, being informed and prepared can help make the transition smoother and safer.

Fines for traffic violations can be costly and put a damper on your trip, so it’s essential to follow local driving laws and regulations to avoid any unnecessary expenses.

2. Master the art of Google Maps

Google Maps can be a valuable tool during your road trip, so learning how to use it effectively is essential. Make sure to set it to your preferred units of measurement, such as kilometers or miles. Additionally, a car phone holder can be useful for safely accessing Google Maps while driving. Mounting the holder on the car’s vents can help you stay focused on the road and avoid any distractions. With Google Maps as your guide, you can navigate your road trip with ease and confidence.

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Road Trip Map

3. Download the maps on your mobile

Download the maps of the places you’ll be visiting and your itinerary onto your phone so that you can access them offline. This can be especially helpful if you’re traveling in areas with poor phone signal or if you don’t want to use your data plan.

By downloading the maps in advance, you can access them even when you don’t have an internet connection, allowing you to stay on track with your itinerary and avoid getting lost. With the maps available offline, you can enjoy your road trip without worrying about getting lost or missing out on any attractions.

4. Get a local SIM

If you’re traveling outside your country, purchasing a local SIM card can be crucial to your road trip preparation.

We strongly suggest eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card built into devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. Unlike physical SIM cards, eSIMs don’t need to be inserted or removed from the device. Instead, they can be programmed remotely by a mobile network operator or through a QR code. With eSIM, users can easily switch between different mobile carriers without changing the SIM card physically. eSIMs also save space inside the device, which can benefit devices with limited internal storage.

Airalo’s eSIM is a highly recommended option for travelers who want to stay connected while on the go, and we personally use and love it. Their eSIMs are not only affordable but also very easy to install, with step-by-step instructions provided. They offer coverage in many countries worldwide, and you can purchase and activate the eSIM in just a few minutes. With Airalo’s eSIM, we never have to worry about staying connected during our travels, and we highly recommend it to anyone planning a road trip or any travel.

Alternatively, you can buy a portable Wi-Fi router to share with your travel companions. However, remember that carrying an additional device may not be ideal for everyone, and purchasing an eSIM is a much more convenient option.

5. Be flexible

Flexibility is a crucial aspect of planning and enjoying a summer road trip. Not only should you be open to making changes to your itinerary during the planning phase, but you should also be willing to adjust your plans while on the road. If unexpected opportunities or experiences arise, don’t be afraid to embrace them and take a detour from your original plan. The beauty of road-tripping lies in its freedom, and being flexible allows you to fully immerse yourself in the journey and make the most of your adventure. So, be open to new experiences and enjoy the ride!

chinese food

6. Eat local

Exploring the local cuisine is one of the most exciting parts of a summer road trip. To truly experience the culture and flavors of the places you visit, eating local is essential. This can involve seeking out the best local restaurants, following the recommendations of locals, or even venturing off the beaten path to find hidden culinary gems.

By doing so, you’ll have the opportunity to taste new and exciting dishes that you may not have otherwise encountered. Even if you don’t always understand the customs or ingredients, embracing local cuisine is integral to the travel experience. So, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new – it might become your new favorite food!

7. Don’t stuff your car with food

We advise against filling your car with food, especially unhealthy options. Although eating while driving can be tempting, it can lead to unproductiveness and potential problems. Digesting food can cause fatigue and impair concentration, as can eating sugary snacks that can upset our bodies’ balance. Instead, we suggest bringing nuts and water for snacking and stopping to eat when hungry.

This way, you can support local communities and avoid potential health and safety issues.

8. Respect the law, the country, the people

Respect for the law, country, and people is crucial during any trip, especially during a road trip. It’s essential to remember that the places you’re visiting are homes to people, and your actions can impact them. It’s easy to get carried away with excitement during a vacation, but it’s important to understand that you’re a guest in someone else’s house and should act accordingly.

It’s essential to be a responsible tourist and ensure that your road trip does not negatively impact locals or communities.

9. Bring a reusable water bottle with you

Many road trippers, particularly novices, often forget to bring a reusable water bottle and purchase plastic bottles instead. It may seem insignificant, but investing in a sustainable option is crucial and contributes to a cleaner and safer planet. With numerous models available in the market, it can be challenging to choose the right one. We recommend purchasing an insulated bottle that you can use for both water and coffee. If you bring a pair of insulated water bottles, one for hot drinks and another for water, it’s even more advantageous.

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10. Pack cleaning accessories

Having some essentials with you while on a road trip is important, such as wet wipes, paper towels, and trash bags. During the drive, the amount of trash can quickly pile up, and having these items will keep your car clean and tidy. Additionally, when visiting places like national parks, your hands and face can easily become dirty, and having wet wipes or paper towels can help you freshen up before moving on to the next destination. Pack these essential items to make your road trip experience more enjoyable.

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11. Bring a foldable duffle bag

One helpful tip for those planning on staying at a destination for only one night is to prepare a separate overnight bag filled with daily essentials such as a change of clothes, toiletries, and a pajama. This will save you the hassle of digging through your main luggage, especially if you’re on the move frequently. We recommend bringing a packable duffle bag, which you can easily fill with your overnight essentials. This way, you can avoid the stress of carrying heavy luggage in and out of your accommodations.

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12. Pack light

Many road trippers tend to overpack because they have a car and feel they can bring anything. However, we suggest traveling light and bringing only a few necessary items. Pack outfits that can be easily washed and are interchangeable and appropriate for your trip. Regarding clothing, Merino wool is ideal for road trips as it is lightweight, breathable, odor-resistant, and dries quickly. Our luggage is always small and consists of lightweight trousers or dresses, Merino wool t-shirts, socks, underwear, and other essentials.

We never skimp on footwear, always bringing two pairs of shoes plus slippers, as taking care of your feet is crucial while traveling, particularly when exploring new places.

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13. Fill your tank regularly

When traveling in an unfamiliar place, keeping your gas tank full is essential. Don’t wait until the last minute to fill up; do it frequently. While it may seem like an unnecessary precaution, you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with an empty tank and have your trip ruined. So, keep an eye on your fuel gauge and take the opportunity to fill up whenever possible, even if you think you have enough gas to get to the next stop.

14. Carry some cash

Although credit cards are widely accepted, some places are still not accepted, or the signal is too weak for card payments to go through. To avoid being stranded without the ability to pay for things, it’s a good idea to carry some cash with you. In places off the beaten path or small towns, it’s especially important to have cash on hand. National parks are another place where it’s a good idea to bring cash, as not all accept card payments. By having some cash on hand, you’ll be prepared for any situation and won’t miss out on any experiences due to payment issues.

Tramonto Meteora

15. Don’t drive at night

It is highly recommended to avoid driving at night unless it is essential to be in a specific location at a certain time. After a full day of exploring and driving, your body needs rest, and it’s essential to listen to it. Driving at night can be exhausting and take away from your trip’s enjoyment.

In the past, we have found ourselves driving after sunset, and it was a mistake that left us feeling drained and unable to appreciate our experiences fully. Now we arrive at our accommodation well before nightfall, allowing ourselves time to rest and unwind. Taking the time to relax and enjoy your surroundings is an essential part of any road trip.

16. Don’t oversleep

To ensure you make the most of your road trip, it’s important not to oversleep. While you’re on holiday, being organized is crucial, or you may end up not sticking to your plan and not enjoying your travels. However, we’re not suggesting you wake up extremely early, like at 5 am, and start driving by 6 am. Instead, wake up at a reasonable time, around 7:30 am or 8 am, and be on the road by 8:30 or 9 am. It’s also worth noting that the sunrise is the best time to travel if you’re like us. Fewer cars are on the road, the atmosphere is fantastic, and the weather is cooler, even in sweltering summer destinations. Additionally, you can take some stunning photos during sunrise, which we do quite often.

17. Do not set expectations

It’s challenging to avoid having expectations when traveling, but it’s a crucial rule to follow. The less you expect, the more you will be rewarded, and the more you expect, the more you will be disappointed. Nowadays, expectations can be misleading with social media and fake representations of reality. Therefore, approach each road trip stop with an open mind, and you will not be let down. For instance, we were disappointed by Copenhagen because we had high expectations, whereas we were pleasantly surprised by Romania because we didn’t have any expectations.

Tanah Lot Temple

18. Have fun

Make sure to embrace the unexpected and be open to changes during your road trip. The beauty of this type of travel is that you can create your adventure, so don’t be afraid to take detours or add unplanned stops if something catches your eye.

Most importantly, enjoy the journey and the experiences that come with it. Take in the scenery, meet new people, try new foods, and make memories that will last a lifetime. A road trip is not just about reaching the final destination; it’s about your journey to get there.

What are some tips for staying safe while driving during the summer?

Driving during the summer can be an enjoyable and memorable experience, but it’s important to take precautions to stay safe on the road. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Plan your route carefully: Before hitting the road, take some time to plan your route carefully. Check the weather forecast and road conditions along your route to avoid unexpected issues. Make sure to also plan for regular rest stops to prevent driver fatigue.
  2. Be aware of the weather: Summer weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to be mindful of severe weather warnings and prepared for changing conditions. Ensure your vehicle’s tires, windshield wipers, and brakes are in good working condition before starting your road trip.
  3. Stay hydrated: Dehydration can cause fatigue and affect your ability to concentrate while driving. Bring plenty of water and other hydrating fluids on your trip, and drink regularly throughout the day.
  4. Keep your vehicle cool: During hot summer days, the temperature inside your vehicle can quickly become uncomfortable and even dangerous. Keep your car cool by using air conditioning, opening windows, or even using a sunshade to block out the sun.
  5. Follow traffic rules and regulations: This should go without saying, but it’s important to follow traffic rules and regulations at all times while on the road. Obey speed limits, traffic signals, and other traffic signs to ensure your safety and the safety of other drivers.

What are some common mistakes to avoid during a summer road trip?

People tend to make several common mistakes during a summer road trip that can negatively impact their experience. One mistake is overpacking, which can lead to a cluttered and uncomfortable car, and make it harder to find what you need. Another mistake is not properly preparing for the weather, such as not bringing enough sunscreen or forgetting to pack rain gear.

A third mistake is not planning enough time for breaks and rest, which can lead to exhaustion and make driving unsafe. It’s also important to avoid driving for too long without taking a break, as this can cause fatigue and increase the risk of accidents.

Finally, avoiding overscheduling and trying to fit too many activities or destinations into your itinerary is important. This can lead to rushing through experiences and not fully enjoying them and adding unnecessary stress and fatigue.

How can I find the best local restaurants on a summer road trip?

One of the best ways to find the best local restaurants while on a summer road trip is to ask the locals. They know the area better than anyone and can give great recommendations based on your preferences. You can also check out online review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor for suggestions from other travelers.

We use mapping applications like Google Maps, which provide reviews and ratings for restaurants in the area.

What are some of the best destinations for a summer road trip?

There are many great destinations for a summer road trip, depending on your location, preferences, and interests. Some popular options in the United States include exploring the scenic routes and national parks of the American Southwest, driving along the California coast, and taking a road trip through New England in the fall. Other options could include a trip through the Pacific Northwest, a drive down the iconic Route 66, or exploring the beaches and cities of Florida.

Internationally, Europe offers a wealth of road trip options, from the charming villages of the French countryside to the stunning scenery of the Norwegian fjords. Other options could include a road trip through the Scottish Highlands, exploring the ancient ruins of Greece, or driving along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Ultimately, the best destination for your summer road trip will depend on your location, interests, budget, and time constraints.

Embark on an Adventure: Your Perfect Road Trip Awaits!

Whether you’re road-tripping for the first time this summer 2024 or you’re expert road trippers looking forward to the next trips, we hope this step-by-step guide to planning the ultimate summer road trip has been helpful and has given you tips to make sure your trip will be successful, enjoyable and just unforgettable!

At the end of the day, quoting Alain de Botton, “The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to”.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission at no cost if you purchase through a link.

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