How to Plan a Perfect Road Trip

Road trips are one of the best ways to vacation across the United States. 

In addition to spending quality time with your fellow travelers, road trips help you find hidden gems and roadside attractions along your path and customize your itineraries in a way that air travel does not. At Autio, we love to plan trips so much that we couldn’t imagine living life without them!

Road trips are such a romantic ideal that they even have their own genre of movies. From Little Miss Sunshine to National Lampoon’s Vacation, there are countless flicks that show just how memorable a road trip can be. That being said, these movies also show just how important it is to make a road trip plan. Whether you’re trekking to the Grand Canyon or making your way up the Pacific Coast Highway, you want to make the most of your road trip.

To prevent a movie-worthy mishap, you need to plan your journey carefully. When you have a plan in place, you set yourself up for smooth sailing and memory-making. 

If you’re planning your next road trip, keep reading this simple checklist of road trip tips to learn how to make it perfect.

Plan Your Route

Road trips emphasize the journey over the destination. Once you’ve determined your starting and ending points, you’ll want to coordinate a strategic road trip route between points A and B. To plan your route, you can use the following steps:

Use the Google Maps app to determine the basic route between your starting and ending points. This navigator will give you a preliminary estimate of the amount of time your road trip will take.

Using this route as a guide, find points of interest along the way and add pins on points of interest where you plan to stop. Road trips are about finding the most memorable route, not the fastest. 

Map out detours, determine how long they’ll take, and add them to your master route. Remember to add these excursions to your total trip time.

Research activities in each location where you’ll stop. This will help you determine how long you want to stay there. If you’re stopping at an old mining town, you may only need one day. Meanwhile, you may need several days if you’re stopping in a big city.

Once you’ve determined your route, calculate the total time your trip will take. Then, add 25 percent to it to account for traffic, breaks, and other unforeseen stops.

Finally, book your hotels, motels, Airbnbs, and campsites.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll have a finalized itinerary for your road trip. Make sure you’ve scheduled plenty of time at each stop to keep your journey fulfilling and stress-free.

Print out a copy of your final itinerary so you’re ready for anything—even remote areas with no cell service where you can’t access your GPS.

Look For Inspiration 

At this point, you might be wondering, how do I find and plan for these pit stops and side excursions? Barring large landmarks such as national parks and historic monuments, Google Maps won’t be much help in that department. In order to build out an action-packed itinerary, you need to do ample research to find out what lies between your beginning and ending points. 

Resources like Tripadvisor and Yelp can help you find inspiration when you’re building out your route. Social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest can also help you find beautiful photo opportunities everywhere from Utah to Colorado. 

You can even check out Autio’s blog, which has pre-built road trip itineraries for locations across the country.

Plan For Spontaneity 

The best part of any road trip is finding hidden gems along the way––the ones that aren’t on Yelp, Tripadvisor, or travel blogs. No matter where your road trip takes you, you will want to stop somewhere that isn’t on your route. While you can’t plan these stops out specifically, you can plan for spontaneity.

This is where the 25 percent rule comes in. Divide your travel time by four, then add that number to your total travel time calculation.

By adding 25 percent to your route’s time allotment, you ensure that you’ll never be in a rush, allowing for stress-free travel no matter the scenario. Whether it’s traffic, a cute town, or a scenic lookout, you’ll want to have ample time on every leg of your trip.

Don’t Overshoot 

Like all things in life, there’s a happy medium between too much and too little. While too little time can ruin your road trip, too much time can make a fun route boring. Not only can you run out of things to do at each stop, but you can make the trip more expensive than it needs to be. 

While you don’t want to be rushed, you also don’t want to be bored. Here’s a general guide to road trip timing to keep your journey action-packed:

10 hours of total driving = 3-4 day road trip

20 hours of total driving = 6-7 day road trip

30 hours of total driving = 10-14 day road trip

Of course, this all depends on your specific road trip. One of your stops may require multiple days. Nonetheless, this is a good way to keep your road trip moving without creating excessively long stints of driving.

Pack Appropriately

When you’re on the road for hours or days on end, you have limited access to the things you need. From food to toiletries, you shouldn’t expect that there will always be a place to stop. Instead, you need to pack in order to be as self-sufficient as possible and prepared for any scenario. 

So, what should you bring? Luckily for you, we have a comprehensive road trip packing list of what to bring in order to make your road trip as safe, comfortable, and enjoyable as possible. Here are the basics:


Road trips are synonymous with fast food and gas station snacks. While these items can be tasty and convenient, they’re unhealthy and unfulfilling. If you want to avoid feeling bloated and lethargic, we recommend bringing plenty of nutritious snacks. Some of our favorite essentials include:

Homemade trail mix

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Organic granola bars


Beef jerky

Hard-boiled eggs

Greek yogurt

Fluids like water, coffee, and iced tea

It’s always recommended to bring a cooler on your road trip to keep your snacks fresh. You can level up, though, by bringing a camp stove as well. Fueled by propane or butane, these portable stoves will allow you to cook meals on the road, eliminating the need for unhealthy fast food or expensive restaurants. 

Emergency Gear 

Accidents happen on the road, and it is imperative that you prepare for an emergency situation. In addition to a first-aid kit, you should also bring aroadside emergency kit

Whether you’re driving your own car or using rental cars, make sure you have a spare tire and jumper cables at the ready. Other essentials like a flashlight and blanket may also help if your camper or RV gets a flat in the middle of the night.

Having these supplies and knowing how to use them will keep you and your travel companions as safe as possible.


Road trips are the most fun way to travel, bar none. Still, they often include long stints of silent sitting and driving through the middle of nowhere. How can you avoid moments of boredom while you’re having the time of your life?

One of the best ways to avoid highway hypnosis is road trip games. These are an excellent way to keep you and your travelers’ minds stimulated while encouraging camaraderie, creativity, and—of course—laughs. While you may think road trip games are just for kids, there are also plenty of games that adults can enjoy too. Don’t forget to queue up a podcast, audiobook, or Spotify playlist, too!

The best way to stay entertained and informed along your journey, though, is with Autio. Our digital platform curates audio content based on your interests and travel destinations. From historical stories to local insights, our narrated content is as interesting as it is fun. 

By bringing Autio along on your journey, you’re ensuring the most memorable trip possible!

Hit the Road With Autio

Autio is all about ensuring that you have the safest and most memorable road trip possible. With our app, you can make the most of our journey with our wide range of content, specially curated for travelers like you. 

Whether you’re off to get lost in a big city or seek inner peace among natural beauty, you can download Autio for all the information you need to make the absolute best of your adventure. 

Check out Autio today, and set off on your adventure. 


Make a First Aid Kit | Red Cross

What To Have In Your Car Emergency Kit | AAA Automotive

How to plan the perfect road trip | The Washington Post

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