Sitting around bored one frozen night in January, enviously chatting about our friends’ spring travel plans, Vince and I jokingly brought up a road trip to Phillies spring training in Clearwater, Fla. We joked about how nice it would be to get out of town, escape to sunny beaches and warm days, while watching our favorite sport and MLB team practice for the upcoming season.
At some point during our verbal daydreaming sesh, we looked at each other and asked, “why couldn’t this be real?” After all, nothing was holding us back. Finances were good and we still had time to save more. I had plenty of vacation time from work and he’d be off school for that week anyway. Neither of us had been to spring training before and baseball is what brought us together. Excitedly, we agreed to begin planning our special getaway.
After the initial “YES!” the thrill slowly began to fizzle once we realized just how much work it was to plan a road trip. There are so many things to consider: hotels, gas, travel, tickets, the list goes on. So after weeks of research, and some serious Pinterest digging, we’ve planned our four-day, 1400-mile road trip for two and we’re ready to hit the road Florida-bound!
Here’s a list of things we considered (and you should too!) when planning our road trip:
Lodging is typically the most expensive portion of traveling but it doesn’t have to be. With sites like Expedia and Hotels.com, you can get members-only specials regularly as well as sales. Another form of lodging to consider is camping! This can add a fun and adventurous twist to your road trip. Try using All Stays, a mobile app that allows you to locate and sometimes reserve campsites in your area.
Many hotels and campsites offer certain amenities such as hot tubs and free parking. You should clarify with your lodging provider the amenities they offer and more importantly, whether those amenities be available during your stay. If you’re choosing a certain hotel because they have a hot tub, make sure it’ll be open and functioning during your stay. Free parking is a hot commodity. Search for hotels that offer free parking, no matter the check-in time.
Most important when it comes to lodging: shop around! Don’t jump at the first special price. Read reviews. That’s where you’ll learn the truth about locations but keep in mind that everyone has a different opinion.
Also, be sure to read the details for cancellation fees. Make sure you can cancel your reservation if needed. In case of inclement weather or a change of plans, you wouldn’t want to be charged for a trip you didn’t take.
Growing up on the east coast, we both had been up and down Interstate 95 plenty of times. We decided to take the road less traveled by following another southbound route. Roadtrippers, an online tool to plan road trips, was a big help in this. The site, which also offers a mobile app, provides a gas calculator, historical and entertaining destinations along the way, a full itinerary and much more! Consider using it for turn-by-turn navigation, too. This handy tool can house all sorts of information like addresses, phone numbers and directions in one organized location.
Thanks to AAA’s gas calculator and Roadtrippers gas calculator, we were able to figure out the approximate price of gas for our road trip and planned accordingly. We’ll also use the Gas Buddy mobile app, or something similar, to find cheap gas as we trek around the country.
Having family and friends scattered across the US can be tough when it comes to maintaining those relationships. We considered the option to stop and visit in with any friends and family who may be on our way. We’ll be stopping to visit Vince’s grandparents and great aunt along our trip.
Get organized! If you’re taking your car, you’ll need an updated insurance card, as well as proof of registration. Obviously, don’t forget your driver’s license, but also bring your health insurance card in case of a medical emergency. Create and bring along an approximate travel itinerary. If there is an accident, this will help response teams to know where you’re coming from and/or where you’re headed. It’ll also help keep you and your family on track! Bring all receipts and confirmations. This includes hotels, tickets to events and other reservations or orders. Bring a printed list of addresses and phone numbers for the places you plan to stop or stay. You may also want to store this information in your mobile app.
Expenses are very important for any roadtrippers, especially a young couple like us. The key is to stay within budget while having a blast. Be sure to set comfortable spending limits on certain items. Consider the necessities like food, lodging and gas while making room for fun activities and miscellaneous expenses. If you drive by an outdoor concert, you can’t pass that up! Just as you pay attention to the spontaneous events, consider setting aside just-in-case money. This way, if you get a flat tire, you can afford it. Try using this vacation budget worksheet by Living Well, Spending Less.
Most of all, a trip like this is about creating memories that last a lifetime. Make sure all camera memory cards have plenty of space and bring along the charger for any device you plan on using. For an extra memorable trip, bring along milestone cards to mark down the different locations you stop at. I designed my own but they were inspired by these road trip printables by The Dating Divas. I put a rating and review section on the back of my cards for Vince and I to write a little bit about the location/stop and rate it using stars out of five. These are a fun way to track your trip and generate conversation between you and the other passengers. They can be paired with photos in a scrapbook or photo album upon your return.
As you can see, much planning ahead is required but you know what makes it worth all the stress? An awesome trip. have a great one!