Car Road Trip

How To Prepare And Plan A Road Trip With Friends

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

It’s about that time of the year. Time for a road trip! 

But a road trip with friends will also require adequate preparation.

What was supposedly meant to be an epic road trip may turn out quite the opposite.  

But with a proper road trip plan and preparation, there is a good chance that you’re going to have an epic road trip together. 

Even after having gone on a couple of road trips with different friends, I still went ahead and did some further research.

x
Travel like the pros- Tripversed

So, to prepare and plan a road trip with friends, you will need to:

  • Set a road trip budget
  • Prepare your car for the road trip
  • Divide up the tasks
  • Maintain an effective communication
  • Choose your road trip destination
  • Choose the right travel partner
  • Craft a good road trip playlist
  • Choose the right car
  • Stock up some healthy snacks, food, and water
  • Plan and prepare well on how you will stay connected during the trip

Related: 7 smart Tesla long-distance road trip tips/ The best Tesla road trip app, according to Tesla owners.

Let’s now jump into more details of preparing and planning a road trip with your friends.

1. Set a road trip budget

Set A Road Trip Budget

This is probably the most crucial part of preparation. 

First,  you need to know how much everyone needs to contribute to the trip’s budget. 

Your budget will affect your trip in several ways – the length of your trip, dining and accommodations, distance, the vehicle that you are going to use – and the list goes on.

Therefore, having a round table meeting at a friend’s house would be important when it comes to money matters.

And perhaps more importantly, this will be a time well spent, instead of sending long texts or emails. 

How do you split travel expenses with friends?

First, you need to come up with the maximum expenditure per person, then work out the budget for the whole group. 

When you plan a road trip, you could split up the bills with the help of a mobile app- like Splitwise. The app helps you split up the bills and keep track of the expenses. You can then settle them up later on.

And then again, you can opt to go for services that ease the splitting of travel expenses. For instance, instead of booking a hotel room, you can go for Airbnb, which allows you to split the rent among yourselves equally.

And on that note, you may probably be wondering…

How do I split my Airbnb price with a friend?

You can easily split the Airbnb price with a friend at the time of booking.

One of you will simply need to book an Airbnb. This will allow you to access the invitation page, from where you will invite your friends.

The one friend who booked the Airbnb will pay their share, which in the meanwhile will be placed on hold. The rest will then have 72 hours to pay up for their share,

If anyone on the invited list does not fulfill their payments, the booking will automatically be canceled, and the money returned to those who had already paid.

It’s also important to note that Airbnb will allow only a maximum of 16 people to split the rent.

Or maybe…

How should you split gas money on a road trip?

The best way to split gas money on a road trip is by having everyone contribute equally, except for the car owner.

Why?

Let’s assume that the car owner has already gone the extra mile to service the vehicle. It wouldn’t be fair for them to make a similar amount of contribution towards the gas cost.

You can also create a separate fund and have everyone contribute equally before the trip. This is because it is easy to forget small details like miscellaneous expenses when budgeting.

Having a separate fund will also help if, by any chance, you exhaust the fund before the end of the trip.

Each person will hence need to make an extra equal amount of contribution. And this extra amount should cover you until the end of the trip.

It would be worth noting that you should ensure that there is good communication throughout the budget process. 

For instance, communication on important details such as the amounts contributed by everyone needs to be well communicated.

Or better still, ensure that every concern is properly addressed. And that everyone is satisfied.

Remember to leave room for some extra cash in hand. You will need it in case of any emergency change of plan. Or as a backup for a rainy day. 

Do keep it in a safe place. You just might need it when you least expect it. 

Quick tip:
Money is still king in many places. So not only should you carry your credit card, but also carry emergency cash

The bottom line is, the total costs of your road trip with friends will mostly fall under food, gas, hotel, and activity fees. 

Want to know how much you will spend on a road trip? Check out our best tips on how to calculate the average cost of a road trip.

2. Prepare Your Car For The Road Trip

2. Prepare Your Vehicle For The Road Trip

One or two weeks before embarking on the friend’s road trip, take the vehicle for a tune-up by an automotive service technician.

In a nutshell, here are the basic things you will need to do:

Top-off the Car Fluids

You should change the engine oil as opposed to adding it. I bet you’ll want to avoid unnecessary breakdowns during the trip.

You’ll also need to top off the coolant, oils, windscreen wash, transmission, power steering, and brake fluids. 

Check the tire condition

Check the tire for air pressure and wear.

In any case, the tires should last for the entire trip. 

And needless to say, driving on tires with improper inflation pressure is dangerous.

Therefore, properly fill it up to the recommended tire pressure or refer to the manufacture’s manual if unsure.

Be sure to check the tires when they are cold – when the car hasn’t been driven for a minimum of 3 hours.

When checking the tire condition (for wear and any need for replacement ), perhaps it’s worth noting that the average tire tread depth is 10/32 to 11/32 inches, and at least not less than 2/32 inches. 

But more importantly, carry out a thorough tire inspection for bulges or bumps. And if you find any, then this means that there is a separation in the tire’s body.

You will also need to be on the lookout for any uneven wear, flat spots, and cuts.

If you don’t know how to check the tires, consider taking the car to a qualified mechanic.

Safety should be your number one concern, even when going on a road trip with a friend.

Check the Engine Performance

To enhance proper and efficient engine performance, you need to inspect the air filters.

Why?

Because you will need to ensure that there is enough air supply to the engine. 

Check the Lights and Signals

Check to ensure that lights and signals are in proper working condition.

How?


To check, you can turn on the lights and signals and have someone check from the outside. 

But more importantly, be on the lookout for any warning indicators and light symbols on your dashboard.

Check the Car Battery

If it’s been long since you last changed your car battery, then it’s probably time to consider checking it for corrosion or for signs of the battery dying and have it changed.

For instance, a sluggish sound of your starter is one such indication.

See also: 25 Best Travel-Size Family Games (Recommended by Most Families).

Other Safety Measures

One thing’s for sure, your safety on the road should be your number one concern.

Therefore, don’t forget to carry your reflective warning triangle in case of a vehicle emergency.

Remember also to wash your car to enhance clear visibility while on the road. 

And to wrap it up, give your car a test drive.

Why?

Because you will need to have a feel of the vehicle on the road to detect any unfamiliar sounds or shakes, especially coming from the wheels. You can do this before you hit the road.

On that note, if you notice a squealing sound coming from the brakes, that could indicate the brake pads have worn down and need replacement.

And in other words, the brake fluid needs a top-up. 

Repeat this process after the trip.

Note:

Since there’s always the risk of your car breaking down while on the road, it would be smart if you could exercise extra caution even after servicing your vehicle.

You’ll hence want to make sure that you don’t leave any of the following:

A fully inflated spare wheel, a jack stand, lug wrench, and owner’s manual in your vehicle emergency kit. 

The vehicle emergency kit should at least have:

  • A car battery(with an extra battery)
  • Battery booster cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • A flashlight( with extra batteries) 
  • Jumper cable
  • A reflective warning triangle 
  • Reflector jacket
  • Whistle, window breaker 
  • Road flares
  • A fire extinguisher 
  • And the most important, your own first aid kit. 

The first aid kit should have:

  • Bandages 
  • Pain relievers 
  • Antibiotic ointment 
  • Scissors
  • Disposable sterile gloves
  • Tweezers 
  • Safety pins 
  • An emergency blanket 
  • A thermometer and 
  • A first aid manual 

Essential vehicle documents to carry. 

  • Your driver’s license and registration (copy and the original)
  • Your own car insurance policy( with emergency contacts)
  • Owner’s manual
  •  A paper map –  or alternatively, you can use maps.me app even when offline 
  • Your vehicle insurance copies

Ever considered a road trip on a motorcycle across America? Check out our complete guide on a motorcycle road trip for beginners.

See also: How to prepare your motorcycle for a cross-country road trip

3. Divide Up The Tasks

divide up the tasks

I bet you will agree with me here:

When planning a road trip, getting everyone involved is a great way of reducing the pressure and the burden that comes when the task is left to one person. 

Dividing up the tasks hence does speed up the process and minimize disagreements.

And more so, disagreements arising from conflicting interests on destinations, accommodations, fun activities, etc.

But let’s remedy that, shall we?

First off, you could research the car rental deals, then have someone else browse hotels and accommodations or research on destinations. 

And to enhance effectiveness, assign tasks depending on each one’s strengths and weaknesses.

Everyone should also focus on a single task and should work to its completion. 

Later on, you could discuss your findings together to make sure they match everyone’s needs.

And in other words, everyone should be okay with it.

See also: How To Plan A Road Trip With Your Dog In Under 5 Minutes (Best Dog Route Planner).

4. Maintain Effective Communication

Maintain effective communication

Crafting proper communication during the planning process is important.

You will want to make sure that you are not caught up in the thrill of booking and making reservations without checking up with the others. And in other words, you need to hear their word. 

The road trip planning process should, in fact, be a team effort.

Any communication affecting everyone in the group, such as the departure time and other important decisions, needs to be well communicated. 

This is for the sake of your relationship and the success of the road trip.

Perhaps there may be times when you feel like your needs are not adequately taken into consideration.


It would be best always to learn to say what you want in a direct but kind manner rather than choosing to go with the flow. 

Apart from that, be sure to give everyone a voice to vocalize their opinions, desires, and needs that they want to achieve from this road trip.

Let them feel that their needs are being met. 

To sum up, the process of planning a road trip calls for patience, compromise, kindness, and most importantly, good communication skills.

Wondering what to do on your road trip? Check out these 20 fun things to do on a boring friend’s road trip.

5. Choose Your Road Trip Destination 

how to prepare and plan a road trip with friends- choosing a destination

When researching a road trip destination, perhaps you will need to consider a few important factors that could help you choose the right one.

Because your choice of destination has a huge influence on how the journey will be.

So, in that case, let’s quickly get down to it.

Related: Fun places to go on a road trip with friends.

The amount of time you have

Your choice of destination can be influenced by the amount of time you have, and of course, where you live. 

Like for instance, do you have a week, a weekend, or a month to go for this road trip?

If you only have a limited time to go on a road trip, perhaps your destination needs to be somewhere closer to home. 

Otherwise, you might rush and end up not quite enjoying the trip.

Taking an extended trip with friends requires more time and planning. Make no mistake about it.

Who you are going with

When planning for a road trip, your travel partner can and will dictate your choice of destination. 

Some destinations are the best suit for solo travelers, some for friends, while others are couples’ destinations. 

A friend’s destination will hence need to be a place ideally suit for friends. And in other words, it should offer an experience that is practical for friends. 

See also: 10 Best Bike Racks For Cars and Trucks When Traveling (Recommend by Cyclists).

The type of weather for your travel style 

Based on the type of season you like when going on a road trip, your weather preferences could determine the choice of your destination. 

For instance, a destination could see a rise in the number of visits during the peak season and vice versa in the offseason, depending on the weather. 

The change in the number of visitors could see a rise or fall in prices associated with destinations.

And this will in no doubt influence your choice of destination.

Planning a winter road trip? Get our best tips on how to survive a winter road trip.

Your travel budget 

Your travel budget influences the choice of your destination—no doubt about it.

The same is true with accommodation, travel gear, and the type of vehicle you will use for the trip. 

If you are on a budget, you could perhaps research destinations that will not put a strain on your budget.

The type of road trip experience you want

It’s quite obvious that the experience you will want to have with your travel partners will influence your choice of destination. 

You could choose a destination for – adventure, an outdoor experience, relaxation, beach experience, food and culture experience – and so on.

Want to make the process a lot easier? Then you need to check out Roadtrippers. It is, without a doubt, one of the best road trip planner apps.

This travel app has tons of amazing destinations that offer a wide range of experiences that you can take advantage of to help ease your preparation process. 

Once you have narrowed down the possible road trip destinations, look for common ground, and then finally come up with the final decision. 

Going on a backpacking trip? Check out these eye-opening tips on how to backpack when you’re overweight or out of shape.

6. Choose The Right Travel Partners

Choose The Right Travel Partners
Choose The Right Travel Partners

Let’s be honest, not every friend is going to be your ideal travel partner. 

And in any case, knowing how to choose your travel partner is important. 

Traveling with friends on a road trip can really test your relationship. And I am talking about even with the closest among them all. 

Perhaps you might have known each other during the good times.

But one thing’s for sure when you are in the midst of challenging or difficult times on the road; chances are you will have conflicts and disagreements.

And as you might expect, road trips are full of challenges, mishaps, and many twists and turns. 

For instance, the driver taking a wrong turn, losing valuable items, overloading responsibilities onto one person, money matters (this is quite a touchy subject), to name a few. 


Spending long stretches of time together will surely test even the closest of friends when tempers flare out.

Before deciding who to go with on a road trip, you will probably need to check if you share common goals and interests.

This could mean that you enjoy similar types of meals, drinks, and experiences on the road. 

You may have a best friend in mind, but if you don’t share goals, then you probably need to reconsider before going on an extended road trip with them.

Discussing the needs that each one will want to achieve from the road trip and the kind of trip they are looking to have could be a great place to start.

If you share interests, you will be sure to have an incredible experience together.

How do you deal with a bad travel partner?

If you happen to be traveling with a bad partner, first, you’ll need to ensure that you are both on the same page regarding travel responsibilities, style, and privacy.

You could also try to find road trip activities that you and your travel partner will enjoy.

In addition to that, it would also be great if you can reflect inwardly on how you might also be contributing to the conflicts arising between you and your travel companion.

Why?

Because most of the time, figuring this out would go a long way in alleviating arising issues when you are on the road.

And another thing, try to hear them out and gain a common ground. But even more importantly, remind yourself why you are still friends after all.

It’s worth noting that traveling with friends on a road trip doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stick together all the time.

You could wander alone for some time during the trip if your interests don’t align. 


Or, the next time you go on a trip,  try to make some new friends with whom you share interests.

You can find them on the Trip giraffe or the Travel buddies app.

Bottom line: Take a chance on a friend or someone you think will be a good road companion, then see what happens.

And…they don’t necessarily need to be your friend.  

7. Craft A Good Road Trip Playlist

Craft A Good Road Trip Playlist

Imagine what it would be like going on a road trip without entertainment, and more so from a playlist. I bet that would be unimaginable.

Planning an extended road trip is impossible without some musical tunes from a good playlist. 

But wait- even the choice of your playlist can make or break a road trip.


Don’t let a boring playlist ruin your trip.

Here are some basic tips to help you craft your ideal playlist for the road trip:

  • Set a discernible playlist tone 

The tone of your playlist could have recurring musical lyrics of a certain topic. But more importantly, a tone that can evoke a certain mood or sensation from the tracks.

  • Consider the length of your trip 

The playlist needs to cover the length of time you will be on the road.

  • Take your time 

Start compiling as early as a few weeks before the road trip. This way, you will have room for some inspiration from online platforms such as Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube, Pandora, to name a few.

  • Ask everyone to contribute to the playlist 

Needless to say, it needs to be a collaborative playlist.

  • Do a test run 


You need to add what’s missing and remove that which is not working.

Finally, don’t forget to download it before you leave for the road trip.

8. Choose The Right Car 

how to prepare and plan a road trip with friends-choice of car

Choosing the right car for the road trip will guarantee your safety and comfort and encourage you to take future trips frequently. 

Imagine this for a moment:

Taking an extended road trip in a vehicle with poor AC, uncomfortable seats, constant mechanical problems, and to add to top it off, a fuel guzzler – a car that is always thirsty for fuel. 

Well, I bet that’s an experience no one would ever want. We all want a car that gives you and your friends a thrilling driving experience from its vehicle dynamics.

But wait- this all boils down to the type of vehicle you choose for your road trip. 

Have you wondered why some people dislike taking long trips by car? Perhaps this is one of their main reasons.
 

But what is a good road trip car?

A good road trip car needs to fulfill the following basic aspects:

  • Comfort

Since you will be sitting in the car for long hours, you’ve got to ensure that the car is as comfortable as possible. 

To check, you will basically need to take the driver’s seat. Adjust the seat backward, forward, downwards, or upwards in a way that will make you comfortable, depending on your height.

But more importantly, make sure you leave enough legroom to stretch and move your legs.

And that’s not all. 

If you are taking a road trip in cold weather, consider getting a seat warmer and travel pillows. And on that note, a bucket-style seat would be great for that absolute comfort.

  • Size matters

A good road trip car should be spacious –everyone should fit in comfortably.

This being a road trip with friends, your choice of vehicle needs to have enough seats for everyone. Larger models are better, of course, depending on the number of travelers onboard.

  • The gas mileage 

To minimize gas expense, you will need a vehicle that gets quality miles per gallon. And in other words, it is a vehicle that will be efficient to cover a large distance per mile. 


You will hence only require to make just a few stops to refuel. 

  • The vehicle air conditioner 

This is a must-have in a road trip vehicle for a comfortable driving experience. But most importantly, it must be in proper working condition.

  • The vehicle cruise control

The cruise control keeps the vehicle at a constant set speed, thereby controlling overspeeding. 

This limits the amount of fuel consumption during vehicle acceleration and deceleration while driving. The result will be a  reduction in your overall road trip budget.

Other vehicle aspects to look out for includes:

  •  Backup camera 

Also known as a rearview camera. A backup camera is important in helping the driver when reversing to avoid hitting objects from behind. 

Most of the rearview cameras have a warning tone when you are about to hit an object.

  • Trunk space 

When planning a road trip with friends, one of the important aspects of a road trip vehicle is the trunk capacity – it needs to have a huge cargo area.

Remember your luggage needs to fit in the trunk. Therefore, you need to consider the storage capacity of the trunk before finally deciding on the choice of car you will use for the trip. 

To help fix your storage blues, perhaps you can try a few hacks to help maximize the storage capacity.

For instance, if you plan to go skiing on a winter road trip, getting a vehicle fitted with a ski rack at the rooftop would help preserve the boot space for other stuff.


And additionally, installing a backseat and a trunk organizer, and carrying a trash bin, are some of the other hacks that you could apply to help maximize the storage capacity.

That being said, if you consider going for an adventure road trip, chances are, you will be carrying lots of kits. And most certainly, you will be driving on treacherous roads. 

An off-roader would hence be the best option in this case. 

Think of a 4×4 model SUV such as VW Tiguan, Skoda yeti, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler, the new Land Rover Defender (my personal favorite), or even a Range Rover Sport if you are down to have a luxurious off-road trip. 

And the good thing is, all these vehicles come with ample luggage space for your gear. 

9. Stock Up Some Healthy Snacks And Water

Stock Up Some Healthy Snacks And Water

Consider taking various healthy snack options.

This will minimize the number of pit stops in fast food joints and low your trip budget. 


The snacks need to be rich in proteins, full of nutrients, and should also be dry to avoid leaking into your bags. 

What are the best healthy snacks for your road trip?

Here are 5 healthy snacks ideas to consider when planning a road trip.

Peanut butter pretzels

This snack will greatly help you stay full till the next meal. It has healthy fat and protein, but ensure that you go for the natural peanut butter pretzels because they are not loaded with some extra sugar.

Walnuts 

They are great road trip snacks that will keep you full in long stretches. 

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are great due to their healthy fats and magnesium, which are great for your heart.

Popcorns

Popcorns provide you with energy while on the road trip. In other words, it is an excellent source of complex carbs and fiber.

Be sure to avoid microwaved popcorns that are filled with chemicals.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a great snack to include on your road trip list of snacks.

This is because they have probiotics (good bacteria) that are great in maintaining good digestive health. They are best when taken on an empty stomach.

Be sure to also carry plenty of water as opposed to excessive sodas or alcoholic beverages. Milk and juices are a great alternative.


And if you will be carrying perishable foods, I bet you will need a cooler. 

This is no doubt a must-have when you are preparing to have an extended summer road trip. 



For example, take a look at this Cool backpack cooler I found on Amazon with a capacity of 20 liters.

The cooler provides storage for your canned drinks and other foodstuffs that normally go bad in hot temperatures.

But then again, if you decide to eat out along the way, look out for meals with healthy components such as lean proteins and fresh vegetables.

They surely maintain your focus and keep you rejuvenated throughout the journey. 

In any case, you don’t want to go for a meal that leaves you passed out for almost half of the entire journey! 


And lastly, don’t forget to take your breakfast first thing in the morning before you hit the road. You will need that energy to start the trip.


10. Stay Connected During The Road Trip

Staying Connected During The Road Trip

First off, when you are on the move, you need to have strong internet connectivity.  And another thing, your devices need to be charged before and during the trip. 



Therefore, having a portable multi-charger should be on your must-have checklist when planning a road trip with friends.

This is because you’ll need to stay connected with your loved ones while you are on the move.

See also: How to Get High-Speed Internet While Traveling (5 Best Tips!).


Secondly, it will be essential that you have a Bluetooth hands-free car kit for your phone.

This kit enhances the safety of the crew in case the driver needs to make a call or stream audio on their mobile devices, and at the same time, maintain their focus on the road. 


Thirdly, along the road, I bet you will also want to capture and document your best moments. You could then consider investing in a good travel camera with excellent quality and amazing photos.



My personal favorite is the Panasonic Lumix Fz80. Your own smartphone is also a great alternative.


Lastly, your documented road trip files need to be constantly updated and stored in the cloud when you are on the road.

Having portable Wi-Fi could ease your travels, especially if your phone does not have an international data plan.

 A good place to start would be buying or renting a Teppy Travel Wi-Fi. 

best portable travel wifi

This travel Wi-Fi does come with a wireless hotspot that everyone in the car can seamlessly connect to. You will simply need to turn it on, connect, and go! 

It can figure out the country and thereby choose the best operator. You hence no longer need to download everything needed for the road trip from your home Wi-Fi.

Other Road Trip Comfort Essentials when planning a road trip

Sunglasses 

You need them to minimize the glare on the road due to sun rays or snow that blocks your vision of oncoming vehicles.

In other words, they provide a better view of the road ahead without straining your eyes. And besides that, your eyes are protected from direct UV light. 

Travel mugs 

Look for those with sealable lids to prevent spillage on the floor or vehicle surfaces.

They also need to have an insulated double wall to keep your hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold.


Shop on Amazon.

Hand sanitizers

This is to keep germs out of the car.

Mints

When you are cramped in the car, you need mints to keep a fresh breath inside the car.

Painkillers 

There is no fun in sitting in a car for long and at the same time having a pounding headache or muscle pain.

Thus, when you plan a road trip with friends, be sure to carry some painkillers in your first aid kit.

There you have it, folks, our best tips on how to prepare and plan a road trip with friends. 

If you made it to this point, I want to congratulate you.

Now go out there and make it happen!

Hey, I’m Rose. I’m passionate about electric cars and clean energy. My adventurous spirit and journalistic pursuits make each day fascinating and far greater. I consider traveling not just about the grandeur moments, but the little elements that transform the whole experience.