The Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping

Grab your friends and kick off the summer solstice with a road trip to your favorite warm weather destination. Whether the drive is 30 minutes or 3 hours, the transit from your couch to a beach blanket should never be cumbersome. To help you get to your destination with ease, we’ve compiled our favorite road-tripping tips into one handy guide. And if you aren’t sure of your actual destination, we’ve got tips for that too!

Road Trip Guide

Get your car road trip ready
A healthy car is definitely a prerequisite for any open road adventure. To prepare for a smooth drive, there are a few quick checks you should do. First, make sure there isn’t anything weird going on with your tires (even your spare). Look for any weird bulges or uneven wear, and use a tire gauge to measure pressure. Next, check out a site like GasBuddy to identify the cheapest and easiest place to fill up on gas, so you aren’t stuck paying top prices. You should also make sure your washer fluid isn’t running low because no one likes driving with a bug-laden windshield!

It’s also important that your mechanic is doing a more comprehensive check-up throughout the year since your brakes, cooling system, transmission service, oil levels and exhaust system can all deteriorate over time. If you want more details about getting your car road trip ready, check out this post.

Load up your smartphone
Our friends at The Zebra compiled a great list of the best apps to download before hitting the road. We don’t want to encourage distracted driving, so enlist your passengers to man the phone or wait until your car is parked.

  • Waze: This community-driven app gathers map data and traffic information from other users, such as accidents, police traps, and traffic jams, and uses it to estimate the best possible route.
  • Inroute: If you see your summer road trip as more of a journey through various attractions, Inroute helps you find the best possible route based on “weather, elevation, curviness, daylight and places along the route”.
  • Songza: Search for music based on the time of day, your current mood, or favorite genre. Songza is completely free, and even has thousands of original playlists handmade by music experts.

You can also download the Metromile driving app, which gives important insights into your daily driving and car health!

Stash your “survival kit”
Whether you are an articulate list maker or the “see what fits into my backpack” type, there are some key items that you should keep near the driver’s seat:

  • A car charger for your phone, especially if you decide to use all of the aforementioned apps.
  • Snacks in case you get stuck in traffic – no one likes a hangry driver!
  • An extra set of keys in case you lose the originals somewhere along the way.
  • Basic tools, such as a jack wrench, lug wrench, jumper cables, flares, and a flashlight.
  • A first aid kit, since it can’t hurt to be extra prepared!

Traveling with a pet? Make sure to bring a collapsible bowl for any roadside water breaks. You also might want to invest in a durable seat cover or even a dog cover hammock (yes, this exists) for any longer drives. Check out our full road trip checklist here!

Avoid a meltdown during a breakdown
With increased travel comes increased chances for car trouble. When this happens on the highway, a bad situation can quickly become worse. Whether it’s a flat tire, breakdown, or an accident, the first thing you must do is get your vehicle to a safe spot away from traffic and set up flares to warn others, even in broad daylight. If something is wrong with your car, call a tow truck or your insurance provider’s roadside assistance (if you are a Metromile customer this is something we offer). If you’ve been in a crash, call the police, no matter how severe it is. And if someone is injured, call emergency services immediately. You should also snap a photo of the damage as soon as possible since details get fuzzy over time. Even if your car seems OK, there might be damage under the surface. Learn more from our in-house mechanic, Mechanic Matt.

Hit the open road
Your car is ready, your bags are packed, and you’ve downloaded the latest and greatest road tripping apps. Don’t have a destination picked? Here are some of our staff favorites:

Brittany W., Community Manager: I’m originally from Oregon, and the Columbia River Gorge is one of my favorite road trips. There are hiking trails and beautiful waterfalls all along the Historic Columbia River Highway that you can stop at. I suggest stopping at Multnomah Falls, the tallest falls in Oregon, and Hood River which has some of the best windsurfing in the world!

Sarah F., Recruiter: When I lived in Illinois, I loved going on road trips to Starved Rock State Park. It is a great place to escape to with gorgeous canyons, waterfalls, and tons of wildlife.

Brian B., Marketing Analyst: Tahoe is hands down my favorite place to road trip to in California. Whether it’s skiing at Squaw Valley in the winter or enjoying the summer sunshine, that’s the main reason why I’m putting mileage in my car.

If you are a Metromile per-mile insurance customer, you can road trip as much as you want since we don’t charge for mileage after 150 miles per day (250 in WA). And don’t forget to share your road trip tips with us – we’ll be sharing our favorites on our @Metromile Twitter account all summer long! Just tag your tweets #HowIRoadtrip like Metromiler Lauren did on her way to Santa Barbara:

How I Road Trip