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Three Steps to the Perfect Spring Road Trip

03/13/2015 01:07 EDT | Updated 05/13/2015 05:59 EDT
AleksandarNakic via Getty Images

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As the temperature begins to rise this spring, you may begin thinking about taking a road trip.

Road trips are perfect for adventure-seeking travelers because you truly can plan your own schedule. You're not at the mercy of an air or train schedule, which offers you the freedom to change plans on a whim and travel at your own pace.

If you're thinking about packing up the car and taking a road trip this spring, here are three ways to make it perfect.

Choose the Right Vehicle

Having the right vehicle for a road trip is critical. Consider things like passenger comfort and gas mileage before committing to a specific vehicle.

You'll likely be spending hours in the car, so you want to be comfortable and have plenty of space. Large windows can also make a road trip more enjoyable and easier to appreciate sweeping vistas and other natural settings. If your road trip itinerary heads South, insure your vehicle also has air conditioning so you can stay comfortable.

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Finally, don't forget about music. The right playlist is key to setting the mood for your trip and passengers in the car. Consider creating a collaborative playlist on Spotify or a similar music-sharing application, giving each passenger a set number of songs so every musical taste is accounted for.

Prepare Your Car

Before setting out, be sure to prepare your car. Make sure your vehicle is clean, well maintained and ready to cover some serious miles.

Begin by making sure the windows are clean. One clever way to do this is to mix together some white vinegar, washing up liquid and hot water. Take some scrunched up newspaper and use this to wash the windows with the solution for sparkling clean windows.

To remove dust and dirt that may be stuck in window crevasses or cup holders, warp some tape around your hand sticky side out. Push this into the small spaces to collect dust on the tape.

Keep your car clear by installing a handy trash container. Plastic cereal containers can work really well because they can be sealed shut, which prevents smells from leaking out.

You can even maximize space by storing things on the interior of your roof. Instead of having a roof rack on the outside of your car, consider attaching a bungee net to the top of the inside of your roof to carry extra clothes and other non-bulky items.

Plan Your Adventure

Be sure to spend some time planning your route based on miles covered per day. Think about how long you want to be in the car each day, consider how many days you have available, and plan an itinerary around that.

Most importantly, be sure to plan a route that hits side roads and takes you off the beaten path. Remember, road trips are all about seeing the countryside and exploring the country beyond highways, McDonalds and gas stations.

Consider making a small investment in a real, paper map. Use this to map out a general route together with your travel partners. Having something physical to reference can be fun, as well as practical if you're traveling in remote areas with limited mobile connectivity.

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Here's a preliminary packing checklist to get you started for hitting the open road this spring.

Packing List: Aviators, flip-flops, cooler stocked with ice and soft drinks, Maps, GPS, emergency car kit (jack, flashlight, spare tire), first aid kit, snacks, and games to keep the children entertained. Don't forget to include your playlist and phone charger!

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