The 10 Worst Mistakes Road Trippers Make

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Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.

Road trips are an exciting adventure that everyone should participate in at least once in their lifetime. But as with all things, there are some serious mistakes you can make that could leave you stranded, in an accident, or just simply not enjoying your time on the road. 

If you are planning a road trip—no matter how long it is—ensure that you don’t make these common road trip mistakes.

Underestimating Distances

Underestimating Distances
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One of the biggest mistakes road trippers make is underestimating how far things are from one another. Granted, when you look at a map, the United States doesn’t look that big. But attractions and destinations can be hundreds of miles from one another—taking you hours to drive from point A to point B.

When planning your next route, it’s best to input it into Google maps to get a brief idea of how long it will take you and how many miles you’ll actually need to drive.

Not Strategically Stopping for Gas

Gas Station
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A rule of thumb on a road trip—especially if you’re out in the middle of no where—is to stop for gas whenever you see a gas station. In remote areas, gas stations can be few and far between. And if you don’t want to run out of fuel—stranded with no help around—fill up your tank, regardless of how much fuel you have left.

Driving for Excessive Amounts of Time

Excessive Driving
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When road trippers have a final destination in mind, they often want to get all the driving over and done with in one go. But driving for excessive amounts of time can lead to accidents and boredom.

Part of the fun of a road trip is stumbling upon roadside attractions that you never would have known about unless you were in your car driving down that particular road. So be sure to take breaks every few hours and never drive when you’re tired.

Not Allowing Enough Time to See the Sights

Road Trip Sight Seeing
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So many road trippers plan trips to cover as much distance as possible. But in doing that, they miss out on actually seeing the sights. Instead of planning a huge road trip across the country, focus on a smaller area and allow enough time to stop and take in your surroundings.

Ignoring State Parks

State Parks
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National Parks are often a huge part of many people’s road trips—I can’t blame them—but road trippers often overlook State Parks. State Parks deserve recognition too, and are often just as beautiful as their larger and more popular counterparts.

When planning your next road trip, combine a mixture of both State and National Parks into your itinerary to get the best out of the great outdoors.

Not Booking Attractions in Advance

Antelope Canyon
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Some attractions throughout America—like Antelope Canyon—require you to book tickets in advance. So if you don’t want to miss out on things you really want to do, it’s best to book ahead of time. This also goes for accommodation, tours, and campsites.

Not Putting a Plan in Place

Road Trip Plan
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Many road trippers like to just “wing it” and see where the road takes them. But winging it can lead to delays, closures, tolls, and not having the right equipment to drive in certain terrains and weather conditions.

We aren’t saying you need to have a minute-by-minute plan of what you’re going to do at each moment of your day. But a brief plan regarding road closures, attraction operating hours, and weather forecasts can save you a lot of time when your road trip actually commences.

Assuming You’ll Have a Phone Signal

No Phone Signal
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People often forget that not everywhere has phone signal—oh the luxury of living in a densely populated area. But when you’re out on the road, it’s important to remember that you could lose phone signal.

Having no phone signal may give you the break you’ve been so desperately needing from the online world, but you could run into trouble if you’re relying on Google Maps.

To help combat this issue, download offline maps and have a paper Atlas just in case.

Packing Too Much

Excessive Luggage
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Overpacking the car is a common mistake road trippers make. If there are just two passengers in the car, then overpacking won’t be much of an issue. But if you have passengers in the back seat, you don’t want them to be cramped amongst luggage, tents, and other equipment overflowing from the trunk. Excessive weight also means you’ll burn more gas, so be minimal and pack as light as possible.

Not Checking Your Car Over Before Departure

Car Service
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One of the worst things that could happen to you on a road trip is your car breaking down. And sadly, many people forget to book their car in for a thorough check before heading out on the road. 

Take your car down to your local mechanic and ensure that it is topped up with oil and water. As well as a spare tire and the necessary tools you’d need to change said tire if it were to go flat. 

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Lake Tahoe
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Arches National Park
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