Road Trip Guide: How to Plan a Road Trip for Beginners

Road Trip Guide: How to Plan a Road Trip for Beginners
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Want to know how to plan a perfect road trip? I’ve written this road trip guide to share my insight into building itineraries and making road trips for beginners. I’ve not only driven regularly all over South-East Asia and Europe, as part of my road trip routine, but I also studied how to plan a good road trip to do visa runs, and thus can share with you the essentials of how to plan for a road trip. Here is my guide to an awesome road trip!

Going on a road trip can be a hassle specially for a beginner! New locales with unknown traffic congestion points, different rental forms to fill out and accommodation which often does not live up to the highest standards.

But if properly planned and arranged for, hitting the road can be one of the most pleasant experiences: cutting-edge technology, trail-blazing gig economy, new modes of transport and a more interconnected world allow you to harness your wanderlust really efficiently.

How to plan a road trip for beginners?

To make your road trip as smooth as possible, prepare for your road trip, and make some plans, especially if you are a beginner. Going on a road trip is not hard, but it requires some effort to be really easy.

Do your research

First, I did research on how to plan a road trip with multiple stops. I scribbled out the name of the destination and mused on how much time to allocate to getting around.

Create an Itinerary:

Having settled on a time to spend on the road, I finally got down to creating my itinerary.

One of the best tools to craft an itinerary is Google Maps. You can use it measure the distance and find the best modes of transport to cover your trip, a great tool in answering the question of how to plan a road trip for beginners.

Also, even if Google maps offers a whole network of routes you don't have to follow the shortest one. For example, I made my road trip into a road trip with stops: pinpointed a place to put up for each night based on my preferences and availability of accommodation.


I avoided mainstream overpriced motels, by using Agoda, Airbnb and Couchsurfing. For example, in the low season, the services can offer steep discounts for accommodation while Agoda even offers car rentals and flights, which cuts time and hassle, the secret formula for planning a good road trip.

These digital platforms offer not just budget lodgings but also authentic experiences and even adventures. For example,  to explore locales around the road you can book authentic experiences with a local, who can serve as a veritable in-person road trip guide, via Airbnb Experiences, a great tool to explore while on your road trip with stops.

Having fixed the places where you will spend the night, with possibly even cherry-picking the best dining options close by, I connected them on your Google Maps using Google Directions.

How to rent a car for your road trip?

Once the itinerary was built I started figuring out how to rent the right car. I factored in time en route, my budget and opted for a low-fuel-consumption option, which allowed me to venture off the beaten track. Booking the car with Agoda, just took minutes….

What are the apps to use on your road trip?

Having fixed the logistics, I decided to double-check on what seemed trivial details and was right. It saved me a lot of hassle. I found the best parking spots with Parkopedia, and for me to have a shower en route, I made a list of swimming pools and gyms to be able to remain clean throughout my journey.

Then I booked insurance with, and also signed up for some sightseeing tours with Tripadvisor, and Tours by Locals, a tips-based free touring app. I also searched the hashtags for the destinations I was doing and asked for advice on the Lonely Planet Blog. Last, I discovered a really useful app, Waze, which allowed me to avoid traffic chokepoints.

What to pack in for your road trip?

Having made sure I knew all the stops along the way, I started packing.

Then I pulled out my rucksack and threw in the shampoos, air conditioners and a paper map; also I packed clean socks, and underwear, and added some warm clothing too. I also had a dashboard mount set up since in most states you are not allowed to drive with your phone.

Other things in my trunk were a power inverter, which you can plug into an a12V socket to charge your laptop to work away, a water jug, a water bottle, a travel mug, especially useful if travelling in a tropical environment; a collapsible coffee filter, a flashlight, first aid kit, and all the stuff in case of a breakdown like jumper cables, ponchos, tow straps, and wiper fluid.

I also double-checked my passport, driving license, vaccine certificate; car registration documents; all of this was zipped and I was fully rigged out. The following morning I set out on my road trip…

Bonus tips

Bear in mind that you need to keep track of coronavirus regulations for you to be as mobile as possible; also keep track of the legal status of some substances such as prescription drugs and stimulants, some of which can be illegal or hard to find in the location you are travelling to.

Also, keep in mind that if you have kids you should come up with an entertainment program. Grab your iPad and upload podcasts and videos in case there will be no connection en route and your little ones start badgering you while you are driving.

Finally, don’t overstrain yourself, it is not just factoring in free time, it is also that new terrain can cause undue stress: so it is best to stick to the road trips for beginners recommendation of total driving of 10 hours for a 3-4-day road trip;20 hours for a 6-7-day road trip, and 30 hours for 10-14-day road trip. Also, don't forget to make stops on your road trip and take regular breaks. Also, you depending on the type of road trip, you may want to check our guide on cross country road trips.

Thus you can spend about 4-5 hours on the road, allowing plenty of time for leisure and sightseeing.

Don’t forget to underestimate your mileage somewhat to build more freedom to build spontaneous detours into your road trip. More flexible timing allowed me to spend more time in the fitness center and have more outdoor activities, for example. It also allowed me to really explore the areas along the road.

About the Author

Ivan Ivoilov is a freelance writer. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, he has spent the last four years exploring the Indo-Pacific and is doing a Master’s degree in Estonia, at the University of Tartu. Ivan’s main interests include collaborative creative writing and creating bespoke tours and pop-up writing retreats. Follow Ivan and his literary adventures on Instagram, or Facebook.