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Summer is here, and the time is right for road trips!

That’s right! Pack your suitcase and fill up your gas tank because on this episode of the podcast, we’re talking to Jim Ross of American Fleet Support and Jason Vitug of Phroogal to make sure you and your car are road-ready.

Ross shares tips about what to do to make sure your car is ready for the long drive, safety and maintenance items you’ll want to pack and even how to get a little extra gas mileage out of your vehicle.

Jason Vitug had a great-paying and high-ranking job at a credit union in Silicon Valley, but he walked away from it to travel the world and live his dream. Now he runs Phroogal, a financial education tool to help individuals live the life they’ve always dreamed about. He’s sharing his travel tips to make your road trip the best that it can be!

We cover everything from car maintenance to trip planning on this episode of the podcast, and we also have tips from other travel experts to help with planning, safety, traveling with kids and even being present while on your trip. Check them out!

Allow for More Time

Zing Podcast: Road Trip Edition - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

When you’re planning a road trip, it’s tempting to try to plan everything down to the last minute. There’s so much road and so little time. Right? Wrong.

Tamara Gruber, family travel writer for We3Travel, says, “When it comes to planning a road trip, I always recommend adding in more time than you think it will take to allow yourself to stop and enjoy the sights along the way.”

Part of the fun of a road trip is getting to see all the sights during your travels. Don’t cut that short. Consider adding in an extra day or two, so you don’t feel stressed to get from one location to another.

Building in time to make an unexpected stop at a beautiful mountain pass or the world’s biggest ball of yarn will be worth it in the end.

Be Smart

girl riding in a van

Whether you’re traveling alone or with loved ones, it’s important to be smart.

Travel blogger at A Dangerous Business, Amanda Williams has a few tips on how you can be smart and stay safe on your road trip.

Tell Someone

This is especially important if you’re traveling alone – someone should know where you’re going, what you’re doing and when you’ll be returning.

There’s a common misconception that keeping people informed of your whereabouts while on a solo adventure is mainly for women. Not so.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or not – if you’re traveling alone, someone back home should know of yours plans,” says Williams. “Check in often and let them know of any changes you make or if there will be a stretch of time when you might be off-grid and unable to be reached.”

Do Your Research

Common tourist stops can be filled with scams and rip-offs. Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid bad areas of town and scams simply by putting in a little detective work.

Williams suggests starting with the internet, “All it takes is a simple Google search on the destination you’re headed to, to learn about the things to avoid. It will make you exponentially more aware when you’re out and about – and being aware means being safer.”

Listen to Your Gut

When you’re traveling, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. You’re in a new environment, and you’re trying new things – within limits.

“If it’s not something you’d do alone at home, why would you do it while traveling? This means no walking down dark alleys alone at night or taking rides from strangers or engaging in activities that could potentially compromise your judgment or otherwise endanger you,” says Williams.

She also says that your instincts are your best line of defense. Williams advises, “If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. If your gut is telling you to remove yourself from a situation, then listen.”

Don’t Rely on Technology

Zing Podcast: Road Trip Edition - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

This is a big one, especially on family road trips. We rely on technology for many things in our lives, and while technology can be a handy tool while traveling, it’s a smart idea to have a backup plan.

“The time will come when you lose your charger or the portable DVD player will break, and you don’t want a situation where your child doesn’t know what to do in the car without a screen,” says Eileen Gunn, founder of Families Go!

Gunn suggests bringing a book for the kids to read and small tactile art projects like pipe cleaners or thread for friendship bracelets. These are mess-free ways for the kids to stay occupied without technology.

“The car is also a good time to give kids space to have some down time. Let them sit in the back seat and stare out the window and zone. We don’t have enough time for this sort of totally unstructured time anymore, and kids need to learn to be ‘bored’ in a good way,” says Gunn.

Road trips can also be a great time for the family to talk. You can talk about the trip, talk about what everyone wants to do and maybe even come up with a plan for when you get there.

Gunn says, “Older kids might also be more open to talking about what’s going on with them when you can have an unhurried conversation.”

Take Time to Disconnect

Zing Podcast: Road Trip Edition - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

When we’re at home, it’s so easy to be wrapped up in our emails, work and social media. When you’re traveling, you have the opportunity to disconnect. Step away from the laptop, don’t look down at that phone, keep your head up and maybe even meet some new people and see some new things!

“The lone-wolf vagabond, only out for Instagram pics is not who you want to be. These can be hard habits to break: that awkward moment of walking toward somebody and trying not to make eye contact or looking at your phone when you’re sitting alone in a bar. But when you commit to keeping your head up, locking eyes, smiling and saying ‘hello,’ the world is a friendlier place,” says Johnathan Ronzio, who writes about travel and expeditions at Explore Inspired.

Pack Light

Zing Podcast: Road Trip Edition - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

When you’re road tripping, especially if you stay overnight multiple places, it’s a good idea to pack light.

Ronzio suggests packing light but remembering three must-have items for any road tripper: extra cash, a portable charger and a camera.

Why extra cash? There are still places that don’t accept credit cards, and you’re bound to run into one or two of them on the road.

“Credit cards are surprisingly useless in a lot of the world’s coolest places. Cash is still king on the road, and it will save you in so many instances,” says Ronzio.

A portable charger can be a lifesaver when you’re on the road. Whether it’s your phone, GPS or e-reader, electronics will run out of power, and you’ll be thankful you have that charger to bring them back to life no matter where you are.

Lastly, the camera. Ronzio says, “There’s a balance you have to find between living in the moment and documenting your travels. You don’t want the camera in front of your face at all times because you want to truly experience where you are. But you never, ever want to come home from a trip without anything to look back on. Memories are wonderful, but they fade. Make sure to document how you feel, who you meet and what you learn.”

Hit the Road

Last but not least, it’s time to hit the road! Not sure where to go? Take a look at the guide to last-minute summer road trips. Whether you’re on the East Coast, in the Midwest, down South or out West, you can find the road trip to meet your needs this summer!

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