Don't have the time, money or willpower to plan a week-long vacation? You don't have to.
Your car is your best asset for a short, enjoyable trip. Chase Auto recently conducted a study that found 61% of Americans are taking a road trip this summer. For those who aren't taking one, over half say it's because they don't have the funds. But a road trip doesn't have to be pricey. All you really need is a car and a destination.
See how other drivers enjoy their road trips. View the infographic.
How to plan it
Sometimes the best road trips are short ones. Aim for a destination 2-4 hours away.
Tanya Sanders, the Business Operations Executive for Chase Auto, and her family recently took a three-hour trip from Dallas to Houston. They spent the day in free museums, choosing the ones with activities for their kids. On the way back, they stopped at famous roadside gas station and eatery Buc-ee's. Besides gas, it was Tanya's only expense for the day.
Jim Manelis, the Head of a Strategic Alliances for Chase Auto, likes to make the route part of the experience.
"Highways are very efficient, they get you from point A to point B," the Phoenix resident says. "But sometimes the roads less traveled are more interesting or more scenic."
His family will sometimes go 40 minutes out of their way to stop in small towns, get a glimpse of mountains or find an attraction along the way. On a trip to Flagstaff they discovered the best burgers in the state, and now they make regular trips there.
You could also plan several trips around a particular type of destination like restaurants, baseball stadiums, geocaching or hiking trails.
Make it fun
Chase Auto found that 76% of people love traveling with their significant other, family or kids. But even the best travel companions have a limit on how long they can entertain themselves with the scenery.
Melinda Welsh, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Consumer Direct for Chase Auto, buys a paper map for her family to track their travels.
"You obviously want to put your real directions into your phone," she says. "But it's actually fun to have a paper map and plot where you've been. Bring markers and pens."
There are a lot of options for in-car entertainment. Prepare a playlist, play the alphabet game, or use the time to turn off the radio and catch up with your family.
Made for the minivan
Minivans are rarely on lists of cool cars. But they shine during road trips.
When traveling by air you have to pack carefully, buy supplies at your destination, and weigh your bags. But a minivan's only limit is how much you can fit inside.
"My kids actually prefer a minivan," says Tanya. "For our family of five, I always have someone in the third row so the captain's chairs in the second row make it easier to get to the back."
Give your car some TLC
Whatever vehicle you use, it's your ally on a road trip. So it's a good idea to keep up with your car's servicing schedule. Jim also recommends getting your tires checked right before a trip. Many tire centers will check your pressure and for any wear and tear for free.
And if you haven't poked around your trunk in a while, make sure your spare is actually there, suggests Melinda. She's speaking from experience.
"I hit a pothole in a newer car," she remembers. "When roadside assistance came out to help and opened the spare tire compartment, there was no tire inside. I had to get it towed."
Prepare for the unexpected
Speaking of roadside assistance, that's helpful for a road trip too. Many newer cars come with roadside assistance if they're under warranty. If not, a roadside assistance program will pay for itself if you ever get a flat, dead battery or need a tow.
What's your best tip?
Ever learn the hard way about flat tires, cranky kids or misreading a map? We want to hear your best tip for a smooth (and fun!) road trip. Tell us on Twitter @Chase.