Traveling by car is one of the best ways to get somewhere. It allows you to experience your surroundings and truly appreciate the act of traveling, not just the final destination. It’s no wonder that taking an epic road trip can be found on many people’s bucket lists, from 18 to 80-year-olds.
No matter your age, planning the ultimate road trip takes time. There are many factors to consider, from your itinerary and budget to the safety and preparation of your vehicle. But if you’ll be road-tripping as a young adult, you might have a couple of extra things to consider to stay safe and travel on a budget.
Traveling cross-country in your early 20s may require additional planning when it comes to accommodations, budget, and car insurance. You may be unable to stay in certain places based on your age. Young adults will also pay more for car insurance, with auto insurance for males under 25 being the most expensive.
You’ll need to consider these things and more to plan the best trip possible. Let’s go over the main things to think about when you’re planning your road trip as a young adult. If you follow the tips listed below, you’ll be ready to hit the open road in no time.
Planning Your Road Trip Itinerary
Planning your big itinerary is definitely the most exciting part of any road trip. It’s when things become real. But this task can be a little daunting. You can use a premade road trip itinerary or guide, like those found on this site. Or you can plan out your own stops and then plan what you’ll do in each location.
Either way, as you plan your trip, you will want to mark out your big stops first. What are the major cities you want to hit on your journey? After you’ve decided on this, you can map your route. You can also see if there are any other small stops you’d like to make along the route.
After you have all your stops and your route mapped out, you can decide on the bigger things you’d like to do in each location and how long you will need to stay to check off those bucket list items. This will also depend on how long you have for the trip in total. After you’ve decided on these things, you’ll have a great itinerary for the trip.
Finding Accommodations for Your Road Trip
Next, you’ll have to figure out where you’ll stay in each place. There are loads of different options when it comes to choosing accommodations. You can opt for hotels, Airbnb, camping, or perhaps staying with family and friends if they happen to live in any of the places you’ll visit.
Where you stay along the way will depend greatly on your budget and travel style. If you want to save money and don’t mind roughing it in nature, you can opt for camping. If you have a mid-range budget, shop around for the right Airbnb. But, if you like fancier accommodation and have a large budget, you could choose a nice hotel.
After you’ve determined your locations and dates and decided on the accommodations you’d like to stay in, you can book the accommodations in various cities for the dates you decided on in your itinerary. At this point, your trip is really beginning to come together, and things are getting real.
Staying Safe on the Road
An important part of any road trip is making sure you take all the precautions to stay safe while you’re on the road. The first thing you should look into is making sure you have a safe and reliable vehicle with the best car insurance. This will give you peace of mind as you set out on your adventure.
If you decide to rent a car instead of taking your own, you may choose to get a rental package that includes car insurance, but there are certainly other options. Many credit card companies offer insurance, and your own car insurance company may even offer rental car insurance.
Most of the time, credit card insurance coverage will only cover collision damage or loss damage. The more expensive coverage would have to be obtained from the rental company or your own insurance provider. Many cards will also cover some of the expense of towing and administrative fees if you run into that.
If you are a car owner, in many cases your own insurance will offer the same coverage for a rental with the same limits and deductibles. This could save you money by not adding the insurance option at the rental counter. Be sure to check with your specific insurance provider to see if this is something that they offer.
Another important consideration for your road trip is making sure you’re as safe as possible while you’re on the road. Make sure you are up to date with the rules of the road and driving conditions look good. You’ll be set to go on your trip feeling safe and secure.
Tips for Saving Money on a Long Road Trip
There will be four main categories of expenses on your trip: gas and car maintenance, food, accommodations, and entertainment. If you want to lower your expenses overall on the trip, you’ll have to decide which of these categories is the most important to you and which ones you can cut back on.
An easy area to cut expenses is food. You can do this by opting for grocery store food and packing a cooler instead of eating out for every meal. Skip the coffee shop drive-thru and drink water, which is free. Small changes can add up to big savings.
As for accommodations, choosing to camp over staying in a fancy hotel will save you lots of money. The average campsite will run you about $25 per night, whereas the average hotel cost can be as much as $90 per night. You can also save money on food if your accommodation offers free meals like breakfast.
Try choosing a car that is fuel efficient, such as one that uses alternative fuel, to save money on gas. Wait to fill up your tank in places where you find a lower rate per gallon. When it comes to entertainment costs, try to do things that are free, and limit your spending to only the things that are at the very top of your list.
You can also save money on car insurance by qualifying for certain discounts. For instance, attending driving school can net you a driver’s ed discount.
Packing up and Hitting the Road
You’ve made all the preparations, and now all that’s left is to pack up and get behind the wheel. It’s not a bad idea to get your car checked out by a mechanic right before you leave and mention to the shop that you’ll be taking a long road trip. That way they can double-check for any concerns with the car and get it in tip-top shape before you take off.
As you begin your packing list, make sure you include the proper camping gear you’ll need, if that’s something you plan on doing. On any road trip, it’s a great idea to pack a cooler, so you have the option to buy grocery store food. Don’t forget to pack the essentials like clothes, toiletries, and electronics.
Taking a road trip is sure to be the trip of a lifetime, full of many memories. Planning out the perfect itinerary, making safety precautions, and finalizing a budget will ensure that your trip goes smoothly and remains stress-free.
About the Author:
Sam Timmerman writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, Insurantly.com. She loves to travel, especially by car, and is passionate about encouraging others to travel safely.