Need a (Spring) Break? Take a Road Trip!

Road Trip
Classic Thelma & Louise road trip. Photo by Terri Marshall for AGirlsGuidetoCars.

Hit the road this season: these tips will help make your trip a success.

Spring is here! You know what that means. It’ll be warm enough to drive with the windows rolled down. If you’d like to celebrate the arrival of a new season, we recommend taking a road trip.

Can’t take more than a day off? No worries. You don’t have to drive far. No matter where you might live, you can probably find a state park that’s close enough for a day trip.

Not an outdoorsy type? That’s okay. Find a play, concert, museum, comedy club, art gallery, sporting event, or shopping mall that’s within a two or three hour drive. You are only limited by your imagination.

No matter where you choose to go, the planning process remains basically the same. If you want to make sure you have a nice trip, follow these three steps.

Know where you’re going

Your phone probably has a GPS, but you should also bring a map just in case. Once, I tried following Google’s directions to Home Depot, and it took me to a residential neighborhood. Whoops!

The male ego is as fragile as fine china. That’s why most men are stubborn about asking for directions. Don’t let them win that argument. The more time you spend driving around in circles, the less time you’ll have to enjoy your trip.

Road Trip

Keep that GPS handy. Photo by Terri Marshall for AGirlsGuidetoCars.

Make a budget (and stick with it)

There are three primary expenses: gas, food, and lodging. Let’s start with gas, because it’s unavoidable. A trip calculator estimates your total fuel cost.

Food can be as cheap or expensive as you need it to be. If you’re a fan of fine dining, feel free to splurge. If you’ve got boring taste buds, just pack a cooler with portable foods like chopped fruit and sandwiches. Helpful hint: stop at a park to stretch your legs and have a picnic.

If you need to book a room, check out travel search engines like Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia, and Priceline. You might save hundreds of dollars on a lucky day. For maximum savings, ask for a room with cooking utensils (or simply bring a George Foreman grill and meat that won’t expire until after your trip).

Road Trip

Stick to your road trip budget.

Give your vehicle a safety inspection

There’s never a good time to break down, but getting stranded on a trip is THE worst case scenario. You’re far away from any friends or family who might be able to help. You’re stuck in an unfamiliar area. You’ll be forced to choose an auto shop on the fly. Not to mention your plans are ruined.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Sorry for stressing you out, but I want you to understand why this is important. Now that I have your attention, let’s discuss a basic safety inspection you can do at home. I recommend going to a mechanic, because they will do a more thorough job; but hey, this is better than nothing!

Park your car on level ground and keave your engine running. To make sure your battery is doing well, turn on your headlights and interior lights. Are they dimmer than usual? That could mean your battery is about to die. Got power windows? Roll them up and down. If they move slowly, that’s also a bad sign.

Stop your engine and let it cool off for two minutes. Get a rag, pop open your hood and look for your motor oil. If you can’t find it, consult your owner’s manual for help. Remove the dipstick, wipe it off, and put it back. Take it out again and check the level. If it reaches “full,” you’re Ok. If it only reaches “add,” see a mechanic.

You’re almost done. Now take a look at your tires. Please don’t kick them. It won’t provide you with any useful information. Inspect their condition. Are there any holes, tears, or cracks? If so, that sounds like a blow-out waiting to happen. Check the inflation. You can go to a gas station or buy your own gauge. Many people need to see a demonstration to understand the procedure; this video explains it well:


I hope the auto safety inspection doesn’t intimidate you. It will be tough the first few times you try it. After you gain experience, it will become second nature. I can promise you this much: the stress of getting stranded is worse than the inconvenience of having to learn something new. Choose wisely.

Final thoughts

Traveling with a friend or partner? Involve them in the planning process. It will make the trip more fun for both of you.

Traveling a long distance? Consider renting a car. It might be less expensive depending on how many miles you drive (by the time you factor in vehicle maintenance costs).

Traveling alone? Share your plans with a loved one. Tell them when you will call or text. If you don’t reach out, they’ll know something is wrong and notify the proper authorities.

Got any tips to add? Share them in the comments. If you’ve got any fun and exciting trips planned for spring, we’d love to hear about it. Thanks for reading and happy traveling!

Road Trip

For a good time, road trip with your BFF. Photo by Terri Marshall for AGirlsGuidetoCars.


Master mechanic, automotive expert and teacher, Audra Fordin is the author of End Auto Anxiety, CEO of Women Auto... More about Audra Fordin