From spring break to summer vacations to the holiday season, one of the best ways to spend your time bonding with your closest buddies if you don’t have other plans or obligations is taking road trips with friends to new places and spaces that are meaningful to your friend group. Although it’s possible to take a road trip by yourself, having friends tag along on your journey can be a great idea for practical reasons and increasing the level of fun you have on your trip. When you travel with friends, you can keep each other entertained while you’re on the road for long stretches, take turns driving to avoid fatigue, and have buddies who can enjoy all the sights or activities you encounter in your travels.
Before you’re ready to go on road trips with friends, you’ll need to prepare for the journey by making sure your car can handle the trip, planning where you want to go, and, of course, deciding how you want the road trip to go with the friends who are coming with you. If you’ve been invited to go on a road trip with your friends, you’ll still need to prepare by deciding what to pack, making arrangements to care for pets while you’re gone, and getting your car ready for the trip if you need to bring it. Since every group of friends and every road trip is different, our suggestions below are more of a starting point for you to make a to-do list of how you’ll need to prepare for a road trip than a definitive guide that fits every situation perfectly.
Know Your Destination
Before you can set out on the highway on road trips with friends, you’ll need to know where you intend to go. While some people find it fun to start driving and go wherever catches their fancy, most people prefer to have a destination or general region in mind before they start going on a road trip. This is especially true for those who are taking a road trip with multiple people who might not have the same idea of a good road trip destination or a fun place to spend time.
If you’re going on a road trip with your buddies for a specific reason like attending a concert or seeing your favorite performing musical act at a concert, you probably already have an idea of where your road trip will lead you. For those in the early stages of planning a potential future road trip, the destination may still be under consideration. The closer you get to the day of your road trip, the more important it is to either know your road trip destinations or decide as a group that you’re all comfortable with going wherever the wind takes you on your road trip.
Choose the Right People
We all have friends with whom we might love to spend a few hours a week but who are not the type of people we’d want to spend days or weeks in their company. Although it might feel mean or harsh to exclude certain people from your list of folks with whom you’d like to plan a road trip, you need to remain practical about what you can tolerate or who would be fun to take with you on a road trip before you send invitations to the selected parties. Additionally, you should consider who might know certain areas that might be fun places to go on road trips in your circle as you’re planning your trips since folks who are familiar with a place can become the group’s de facto tour guide once you get there if they want to be.
If you’re taking a road trip for a specific reason like going to a high school reunion or attending an event, you may want to pick people to go with you who have a similar tie to the place where you’re going or who would be good at supporting you there if it’s going to be a stressful experience. While some of your friends may be perfect for a frivolous road trip for recreational purposes, those same friends might not have the emotional bandwidth or shared experiences to make a road trip to somewhere that means something to you as special as folks who went through the same things as you. Likewise, if some of your friends would be a stick in the mud on a leisurely road trip, you probably shouldn’t pick them as road trip buddies for fun ones.
A First Aid Kit
Even when you’re having a great time singing along to your favorite songs with your best friends in car karaoke on a road trip, emergencies that require first aid can happen so it’s better to be safe than sorry and pack a kit that has all of the essentials for handling a medical emergency. If you or one of your buddies on the trip lives with chronic pain or other health conditions, it may help to identify pain centers that are located where your road trip destination is or that are along the way if you’re taking a long road trip. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that everyone has their necessary medications, mobility aids, and other tools that will make your trip healthy in addition to being a happy one.
Even if you don’t have health issues or you’re taking road trips with friends without health issues, it’s wise to have basic medical supplies and medications available like over-the-counter pain relief medications, antiseptic sprays and creams, and bandaids. If you’re taking a road trip to a place that’s known for having certain risks to your health like poor air quality, you should think about what medical supplies or tools could help you reduce the risk of these hazards. Basic hygiene items like hand sanitizer can also help you and your friends stay healthy during a trip if you’re traveling in places with outbreaks of illnesses.
A Dash Cam
When you’re going on road trips with friends, you’ll probably want to record every one of your happy memories with your pals but you shouldn’t try to use your phone to record things while you’re driving if you don’t have a hands-free set up in place. To take videos and pictures of gorgeous scenery on your trip, you can invest in a dash camera to capture these moments for you. Dash cameras can also be useful if you end up getting into an accident and need a recorded account of what happened to submit to your insurance company along with a claim or defend yourself in a legal issue.
A Warm Blanket
Depending on when you take road trips with friends, it may be chilly outside or even freezing at certain times of the year. While your vehicle’s heating system will help you stay comfortable, it may not be enough to warm up your friends on a road trip. In this case, having a warm blanket or two in your car can help keep everyone cozy as you drive to your destination.
Sometimes, road trips may lead to spending the night in your car if you don’t have a hotel or motel lined up. If it gets freezing at night where you’re going, having a thermal insulation blanket can make all the difference between getting a good night’s sleep and shivering all night. Although blankets with advanced warming technology might be pricier than a cheap throw blanket without any frills, it will be money well spent when you’re traveling in frigid temperatures and your car’s heater isn’t doing enough to make your vehicle’s environment comfy for you and all the passengers in it.
Plenty of Fresh Water
Before you set out on the road, you should have a stash of water prepared for your trip either by purchasing bottled water or getting water from your home’s water source with tools like a water well drill. You may also want to bring water flavor enhancers if you don’t like water or other shelf-stable beverages. If you forget to buy water before your trip, you may find that gas stations and stores along your journey are more expensive than the ones in your starting destination, so it’s best to save money where you can by bringing water from home on road trips with friends.
Extra Pairs of Clothes
Before you set out on the road, you should have a packing list of all the clothes you’ll need on your trip from t shirt apparel to hiking clothes. Depending on what activities you plan to do and how long you anticipate your road trip will take, you may need to pack more or less clothing for the trip and include certain items over other ones if they’re more useful to your plans. Packing some extra clothes can be helpful if you and your buddies find yourselves in a pinch when you’re taking longer to get home than expected on road trips with friends.
A Spare Tire
If you’re interested in paving the way for a smooth road trip, it starts by having an extra tire in your vehicle in case one of your tires becomes unusable during your trip. If your trip is excessively long, this matters even more, since it can be expensive to tie a vehicle across state lines or even from one city to another. Having an extra tire in your car and any other vehicle involved in road trips with friends can give you a sense of peace about hitting the road.
A Small Fan
When you’re traveling during the summer or plan on passing through hot regions, it’s most important to have an alternative method of cooking your vehicle if your air conditioner breaks or you need to get an AC repair before you can use it again. Even if you’re taking road trips with friends in the winter, you never know if or when one of them might overheat and need some relief. Having a small, portable fan in your car can help relieve car sickness for you or your passengers and it can help dissipate unpleasant smells faster if needed.
To keep bugs and big bites low, you can pack bug spray to prepare for your road trip with your friends. As a word of caution, you should never use the same types of pest control sprays professionals use to eradicate pests in an environment on your body. Only use bug sprays that are designed for topical use on your skin and always read the directions before you apply them.
A Strong Jack
If something goes awry in your car’s functioning, you’ll need to have a few things at your disposal that you can prepare before you get on the road. Beyond a phone number for a reliable towing company, you’ll also want a jack that’s strong enough to lift your car. Other items like jumper cables can be helpful. A mechanic may be able to tell you what’s best to bring with you, as well.
Before you can go on road trips with friends, you need the right kind of insurance policy with enough coverage to handle the emergencies you might face like theft and liability. For cars, you’ll want to have sufficient auto insurance coverage even if your state doesn’t legally require drivers to have car insurance. For an RV, you’ll need RV insurance whereas you’d want boat insurance if you were going to make a trip by boat.
In conclusion, preparing for road trips with friends can be as simple as packing a bag or as complex as using graphic design software to create a professional itinerary for your upcoming trip. What you have to do to prepare for the trip will depend on many factors from how long the road trip will go on to how well you know the friends who are going with you on the road trip. As with any plans with friends, you’ll need to include your friends in the process of planning the road trip to make sure everyone is on the same page to avoid confusion or some participants missing out on the trip because they didn’t know when it was happening.