Planning the Perfect Road Trip

You won’t be an April’s Fool, if you begin planning your Memorial Day road trip on April 1st! But, with only two weeks left, you can still plan a fabulous six day road trip.

Start with your budget and you won’t be disappointed with your trip once you get home and start paying the bills. Decide how much money you can spend on: hotel accommodations, transportation (including pre-trip maintenance for your car), food, entertainment, and boarding fees for pets while you are away.

List each item and approximately how much you think you will spend on each. Get discounts where you can, for example, check any club memberships you may have that discount car rentals and hotels as part of their benefits.

Hotel Accommodations

As a member of the CSUN Alumni Association I receive discounts at premier car rentals and choice hotels. I called their 800# and found out that I could save $40 a night by staying at one of their hotels located in San Clemente, only 8 miles from San Juan Capistrano, one of the places we are visiting on our road trip. I immediately made the reservation at a lovely hotel with a king size bed, clear views of the ocean, and an outdoor pool/ Jacuzzi, for only $80 per night.

Transportation

Pre-trip maintenance on the vehicle you’re taking on the road trip, is crucial in having a safe and enjoyable vacation. Choose the car that you will take based on its riding comfort, gas economy, and costs to repair or tune-up the vehicle. Check that the tires are sound; that the oil, coolant, and transmission fluids are topped off and that the batteries are fully charged before you go. Make any repairs to the vehicle the weekend before you leave to ensure that the car is in perfect working condition, including the air conditioner.

Boarding Pets

Call to reserve space for your pets well in advance of the major holidays, and make sure to leave detailed instructions on any medication or special care that they may need. Also remember to leave a medical release (permission for the boarding facilities to contact your veterinarian), in the event that they should become ill. This way you know that they will get medical attention if needed.

If you’re lucky enough to have a friend or family member house sit for you, make it as easy as possible on them and your pets. Write out a detailed letter of instructions on what to feed your pets, how often they need walks, medications needed and their sleeping arrangements. It’s important to acclimate your pets to the person who will be caring for them, especially if your pets are older, ill, or shy.

House Care

If you have a house sitter, leave instructions on inside and outside plant care and watering.
Don’t forget to have them take out your trash cans on the appropriate day, and especially to retrieve them from the curb. Ask them to retrieve the newspapers from the yard and your mail.

If you don’t have someone to house sit, put your sprinklers on automatic timing so your yard doesn’t dry up. Also, have a neighbor take in your newspapers and mail, so that it will not be obvious to the casual observer that you aren’t at home.

Entertainment

A bit of research can do wonders toward saving money on entertainment. Start by calling the Chamber of Commerce or the City Convention and Visitors Bureau of the city you plan to visit, or go online to the city’s website. There you’ll find information on free local events, seasonal celebrations, places to go and up-coming attractions in the local area. Quite often the city offers a travel value packet or book of coupons to local restaurants, movies, live events and shopping venues.

Use your network of family and friends. Ask them to tell you about their favorite haunts and best travel tips. My sister has traveled extensively and I always ask her for the best places to go and the best bargains. People are usually willing to share both the sweet dreams and nightmares they have found out there on the road.

Make a Note of It!

Take a notepad to jot down things you forgot to bring, places you should have skipped, as well as your own list of favorite haunts and restaurants. Next trip, you’ll remember all the details and be better prepared.

Once you have set a budget, made your reservations, prepared your vehicle, and arranged for the care of your pets and your house, all you have left to do is….ENJOY yourself!

By Diane Tegarden

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