5 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Road Trip

There’s no better feeling than setting out on a road trip with your friends or loved ones. You’ve got your destination in mind and are excited for the fun you’ll have along the way. The last thing you want to encounter are bumps in the road that will put a damper on your adventure.

It pays to be prepared when planning your road trip. We’ve compiled a list of common travel oversights that can cost you time and money while on the road. Cover these basics and your trip will be more of an Easy Rider and less of a National Lampoon’s Vacation.

1. Not bringing snacks and car-friendly foods.

Maximize travel time and avoid frequent stops by stocking up on snacks before you hit the road. Save money by purchasing in bulk and preparing quick bites like sandwiches before you hit the road. For longer trips, a plug-in cooler is an excellent investment to keep drinks and perishables cold. If you are going to stop, consider these 9 healthy snack ideas and where to find them on the road.

2. Not making sure your vehicle is up to snuff.

The most important component of a stress-free road trip is having a vehicle that can go the distance. Taking the time to make sure your car is running smoothly before departure will help prevent costly and time-consuming delays. Plan a few weeks in advance and take care of a few small tasks before they become a bigger problem. Read our Pre-Road Trip Checklist for recommendations on how to keep your vehicle road ready.

3. Not taking advantage of handy technology.

A road trip might be a classic American experience but it doesn’t have to be stuck in the past! There are dozens of travel apps to help navigate, entertain, educate, and more. Check out our list of 10 Travel Apps for Your Next Road Trip. Remember: it’s important to drive safely. Put your trusty copilot in charge of using a cell phone or tablet and pull over when you need to take a closer look.

4. Not being prepared to travel with children and teens.

Keep the dreaded, “Are we there yet?” at bay with games and activities to keep younger passengers occupied. Games like license plate bingo and activities like listening to audiobooks are great ways to keep kids from losing their patience on long drives. Keeping teens entertained and engaged can be a challenge too. It’s important to offer teens a mix of inclusion and independence while on the road. For tips on how to avoid major meltdowns check out 5 Tips for Traveling with Teens and 7 Ways to Keep Children Entertained on the Road.

5. Not packing money-saving essentials.

You’re already saving by choosing to drive to your destination, but there are plenty of other ways to travel on a budget. Read about 9 Essential Items for a Budget-Friendly Road Trip for tips on bringing reusable items and more.

6. BONUS: Not bringing a spare key, and keeping it with you!

Your spare key doesn’t do any good hanging on its hook at home. Be sure to bring it with you to avoid getting locked out or worse, losing your key all together! Keep your spare key separate from where you’d normally keep your keys, or give it to another passenger for safekeeping to ensure it’s always on hand.

On your epic road trip across the United States (or the state line), you’ll need a relaxing retreat from life on the road. InTown Suites’ extended stay properties offer affordable accommodations in convenient locations.

Cost-Effective School Supplies for Back to School

Are you or is someone in the family heading back to school this fall? There’s no question that getting back to the books can be an expensive endeavour. The good news? A little research and planning can go a long way in saving you some money as you stock up on all the essentials.

Check out our cost-effective school supplies for returning to the classroom:

Scientific calculator.

You may not need all the functions of the scientific calculator today (check with your school before you purchase anything), but there’s a good chance you will in the future. And for the price, it’s worth spending a little bit extra up front to avoid having to buy a second calculator down the road. For special functions like exponents, roots, and scientific notation, try something with a middle-of-the-road price point and excellent user reviews, like the Texas Instruments TI-36X, sold on Amazon or in stores for about $18 – $20.

Laptop.

If you’re in the market for a laptop, a good place to start is by determining what you need the machine to do. Do you need Microsoft Office, Photoshop, or a desktop email client? Or do you primarily need web-based tools and applications? Check out your school to see what they have available in their computer labs and libraries before making your decision.

One of the best bangs for your buck right now is the Chromebook — but only if you spend the majority of your time computing in a browser. I.e., checking email, social networks, and working within Google’s app suite (Google Docs, Gmail, and so on), compared to using locally-run programs and storage.

Chromebooks start at about $300 (see the Toshiba Chromebook 2 to start).

Backpack.

Traveling back and forth to the classroom with a laptop, books, and gym clothes can get tiresome without the proper carrier. Avoid the shoulder strain without breaking the bank with a purpose made laptop bag, designed to carry and evenly distribute the weight of your machine while also providing ample storage for books, pens, and so on.

The North Face Pivoter backpack is an excellent value bag that is comfortable, affordable, and includes a designated compartment for your laptop. The bags run about $65 on Amazon.

Markers & pencil crayons.

When it comes to sourcing markers and pencil crayons, Crayola is a great go-to brand for cost effective, reliable options. Sure, they’re not “professional” quality, but they’ll do the trick in most cases — and for a fraction of the price. A pack of 8 washable markers will cost about $5, and 24 colored pencils will run about $7 online from places like Amazon, or in stores at places like Walmart, Staples, and so on.

Binders & loose leaf paper.

For basic school supplies like pens, binders, paper, and so on, it’s best to avoid shopping at places like office supply stores, drug stores, grocery stores, and department stores. You’ll get the best prices at places like Walmart, Amazon, dollar stores, and even Staples (they typically offer an excellent price-match policy!).

Start by comparing Amazon’s collection against what you see in the stores. A great place to begin is with a 2 inch binder, available in some cases for a couple of dollars. Consider interior pockets and storage, like this Avery 2” binder with 4 interior pockets.

When buying loose leaf paper, consider quantity; you’ll probably get a better price the more you buy up front. The Sparco College Ruled binder paper is a well priced option for a quality product.

Water bottle.

Stay hydrated all day long with the help of your own refillable water bottle. Nalgene has excellent durable options ranging in size, color, and shape. The 1-quart variety is a great place to start under $10.

From your friends at InTown Suites, have a safe and fun return to school this fall!