Road Trip Planning

Whether you’re going on a local road trip or a road trip abroad, you need to plan ahead. Unless you want to get lost or you don’t really want to go anywhere and just drive, that’s on you. However, if you want to plan something special, make some stops, and make sure that the whole trip goes smoothly, then read on. 

We’ve been on many trips in the Philippines and abroad. Whether we’re driving to Baguio or whether we’re renting cars in other countries, we make sure to plan ahead. The key word here is an itinerary, we recommend that you make one on top of keeping other things in check. Before you head out on your next trip, here are a few pointers that’ll likely come in handy. Consider this a sort-of checklist, to-do list, step-by-step mini-guide, and/or friendly reminders that you need to take note of when planning a road trip mixed in with some good tidbits of advice. 

Plotting on map

Consider the fact that there will be a few attractions between your starting point and your final destination on the road trip. Notable sites and attractions that you may encounter on your journey could be one quick Google search away, so hop to it. This is probably the best part about planning an itinerary, as you can do this with wide eyes and list down everything that you find interesting. 

On top of that, also look for potential rest stops and areas where you can stock up on supplies (just in case you need extra), have a snack, grab a coffee, fuel up, pump tires, or simply go to the bathroom and stretch your legs. Check what fuel stations are available on the way to your destination and mark them on your map for safety. 


Following that, however, you may need to pare down your list mainly because it might not be feasible given a certain time frame, given a long travel time, or given that it is just plainly out of the way. Apps like Google Maps actually have a feature wherein you can list several stops. All you need to do here is to arrange everything in the most logical way possible and there’s your route. You even get estimated travel times between each stop. 

Also, don’t forget to plan your rest stops. Doing the touristy stuff is great, but also think about your car’s fuel and tire pressure, and perhaps your bladder or your empty stomach. Bathroom breaks are important on road trips, and planned stops are better than unplanned accidents that are more yellow in nature. You know what we’re talking about. If you’ve noted the fuel stations on your map beforehand, you should have no problem plotting which station or stations you’ll stop at. Consider refreshments as well like drinks and snacks. It’s easy to forget to attend to your needs while traveling. 


There will be times when you don’t leave or arrive on time. Allow your itinerary to account for delays as no plan will be perfect. Things like traffic, bathroom breaks, and simply spending extra time at a single stop should be a factor in your itinerary. Also, think about it this way, unless you are in an extremely efficient city, it’s best to consider that your departure and/or arrival times will be later than expected. 

A general rule of thumb is to allot about thirty minutes to an hour of allowance for your plan per stop. The allowance will allow you to remain on schedule while the trip is ongoing. Just in case you encounter a traffic jam or an emergency-unplanned-unexpected bathroom break, none of your other plans will get derailed and you can carry on as if nothing happened. Allowances are also good to keep your head cool especially if you’re managing a group of people or your family. 


In the days or weeks leading up to the trip, make sure that you’ve reserved or booked whatever you’ve planned ahead of time. That goes for the big things like tickets to a show or attraction, reservations at a restaurant, and also hotel rooms. Getting these things out of the way first will be paramount in ensuring that your trip is as seamless as it can be. 

As much as possible, you don’t want a restaurant or an attraction that only accepts reservations to turn you away. Do your research and make sure that you secure a slot with the establishment even if they do accept walk-ins. However, for restaurants or stops that do not accept reservations, just get there earlier to increase your chances of securing a seat or an entrance ticket, or whatever it is that you want to do. 

Car Keys

For things like toll fees and other small things, make sure that you either load up the RFID for the appropriate toll collection system, print out your reservation confirmation email, online tickets, and etcetera, at least a day before you actually go on the trip. Either that or have the documents that you need on your phone, saved and filed in a folder for easy access. For toll collection systems, you can research how much you need to load before a trip online. Toll matrixes tend to change from time to time as new expressways and exits are added, or other factors such as fee adjustments and the like. This also goes for your pocket money, or your ability to pay for things. Have some cash on hand ready for the trip before the trip, or make sure that your credit or debit card is usable on the day of the trip. 

This ensures that everything is within arm’s reach regardless of internet access. Instead of triggering your anxiety at every turn waiting for your reservation or online ticket to load, download it beforehand so that it’s with you when you need it the most. 

Road Trip

Before the day of the big trip, make sure to take out the trash, set up the seats, make space for cargo (if applicable), and load up with fuel so your departure is as smooth as can be. It also helps to have a co-driver on a long road trip so make sure to designate someone or some people that will have the honor of riding shotgun. 

You don’t want to waste time by having your passengers fight over who gets to sit where. If seating in your vehicle is an issue, compromise and give people a chance to sit in their preferred seats to avoid conflict. 

Also, make sure to share the entire plan with your group so everyone is informed of the plan and will be aware of what comes next. Make sure that everyone is informed about the schedule in advance so they’re aware of what comes next. 

Phone holder

Make sure to secure a phone mount for your car or designate a place that’ll keep your phone secure while driving. If your car has Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, be sure to use it. Bring a cable if you need it. It certainly helps if you’re bringing a car that come with all the trimmings. 


If you’ve prepared everything in advance, your trip will go off without a hitch. If traffic hits you, no problem, you’ve prepared for a traffic jam somewhere in your itinerary, right? If someone needs a bathroom break, no problem. If someone is a bit late to a meetup, no biggie. Preparation is key when the trip is ongoing, and doing all the grunt work beforehand will guarantee a seamless experience on your journey. 


Even if you’ve planned everything down to the wire, there is no assurance that you will be able to meet your plan exactly based on your schedule. Allotting time allowances in your schedule may also not be enough if something extraordinary happens on the road. Because of that, make sure to have backup plans, or be inclined to accept other alternatives while you’re executing the itinerary. Sometimes the best plans are the most unexpected ones so keep an open mind. 


While on a road trip, it’s also important to take care of yourself. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep, be sure to eat, and refresh your mind if necessary. It’s possible to underestimate your ability to stay away during a long drive, so be sure to also pack some snacks like chips or candies, energy drinks, coffee, water, or other refreshments. Falling asleep behind the wheel is a definite no-no, so be sure to prepare your body for long hours in the driver’s seat if you’re the one who’s going to captain the ship so to speak. 

On top of that, consider the energy it takes to lead a group if you are the designated “tour guide.” Allow your body to rest, yes, but don’t forget to wake up early and be on time for the call times scheduled in your plans. 


In line with resting, it’s also important not to stress out so much. Stressing out in front of your friends or family may result in a spat or a fight depending on the parties’ patience with each other. Keep your cool, don’t crack under pressure, and you should be fine. 


Be on time for the plans. Set an example to the rest of the group to show them that you are committed to following the plan. It’s one thing to say that everyone should wake up on time, and it’s another thing to actually be on time or early. Find the discipline and the foresight to wake up or meet up on time with the group per stop. Set the tone as well, if the group sees that you’re on time, it’ll mean more when you politely ask people to be punctual. 


While you have to be strict with yourself about call times, travel times, reservations, and bookings, remember to still have fun in the process. What’s the whole point of a trip if you’re going to get stressed anyway? So remember to enjoy.

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