Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s road-trip season in the Pacific Northwest.
Travel is expected to increase again this summer, so it’s important to start planning your warm weather adventures now. The experts at AAA Washington passed along a few tips to make your road trip as seamless as possible:
1. Narrow the focus of your trip. Figure out the “who, what, where, when, and why” of the vacation. Is your trip about getting to a destination or about what you see along the way? Are you heading to the mountains, ocean, or desert? Once the focus of your trip is set, you can craft the best all-around experience.
With a road trip, it’s not always about the destination – our nation’s many scenic drives make the journey just as magical. So, if you have the time, try to incorporate many picturesque roadways, historical markers, or unique, fun things to see along the way – like the world’s largest (Radio Flyer) wagon in Spokane.
2. Do your research. One thing to keep in mind: specific destinations and roadways are better during certain times of the year. For example, the North Cascades Highway is only open during the summer but offers terrific views, camping areas, and hiking. Stevens Pass, on the other hand, is great for fall foliage.
Do you have a list of must-visit National Parks, monuments or beaches? Be sure to do your research in advance and find out about any road closures, construction, border crossing alerts or weather and wildfire conditions. The National Park websites are particularly important to review, as specific roads and sites may not open until late in the season.
3. Make reservations. Reservations are imperative during the summer months. Road tripping and camping are very popular, and hotels and campgrounds fill up fast. You can do a lot of research online, or if you’re an AAA member, come into a store and talk to a Member Travel Counselor.
4. Determine how much time you want to spend in the car. Figuring this out in advance can help you map out your stops and plan activities on your route. Are you traveling with children or pets? Think about frequent stops, snacks, games, pet-friendly lodging, and proper safety restraints for both kids and pets.
Oh, and do you need directions to specific stops along your route? In the event of a GPS fail, it’s always a good idea to have a printed map and turn-by-turn directions.
5. Prep the car. Is your vehicle up for the challenge of a road trip? Have your vehicle checked before your trip – get an oil change, make sure your fluids are topped off and double check your tires’ tread depth. Also, be sure to pack an emergency road kit.
You’ll also want to budget your gas money. Gas prices vary by state, but there are lots of tools that can help you plan, including AAA’s Gas Cost Calculator to estimate your expenses in advance.