Any road trip is made by the experiences you have along the way. You can have a fantastic time driving, setting up camp, arriving at a hotel, and lounge, relaxing and enjoying yourself.
Or the opposite can happen. Your car breaks down along the way, you're overpacked and not adequately prepared for the weather and terrain.
Or a kid or dog gets sick, or your car has issues; there are so many ways that a road trip can be a positive experience or a negative one.
These factors are ones you have no control over, so why worry about them?
Control What You Can
The key to overcoming the anxiety of the unknown is to focus on the areas you can control.
The saying "control the controllable" comes to mind, and the one area you have the most control over is your preparation and planning for various contingencies that might arise.
The most control you have is planning your trip and thinking about what may happen, the "what-ifs" that you can foresee about the future, and develop strategies for how you'll handle those negative factors.
Plan For Success
Planning the perfect road trip requires some forethought of what you may need for the journey and some possible negatives that may arise.
Some of the things you should prepare for your perfect road trip:
Buy "old-school" maps. Electronics may not work everywhere you travel depending on the cell phone service in certain areas, so don't rely on electronic maps like Apple Maps and Google Maps. You can even do electronic mapping then print it out ahead of time.
Consider storage or trailers for more space. On the road, trip space is at a premium, and if you have a large family, getting the most area you can for a comfortable trip should be your focus.
Have an itinerary but allow for spontaneity. Having a plan (more on that later) should be a priority, and give yourself some time for spontaneity.
Driving through a cute little town and want to do some exploring? Let yourself go and enjoy!
Don't get wrapped up in the schedule, the we "should," and become stressed over artificial timelines for your trip.
"Should" statements are a common form of negative feedback that we tell ourselves and can lead to various anxious and panic moments.
The Three Areas You Have Most Control With Planning
There are three areas you can exert the most control for your trip, and I'd like to discuss those more. The three areas you have the most control over in your trip planning are; 1) create an itinerary, 2) set a budget, and 3) pack and unpack, then re-pack for your trip.
1. Create An Itinerary
Creating an itinerary is one of the most practical of what you can do before your trip.
By creating an itinerary that you can share, you're providing a literal "road map" of where you expect to be on a given day so that in case something happens, people know where you should be and how to find you.
As I mentioned earlier, don't get too specific with your itinerary. You want to make memories and enjoy your trip, so give your plan some leeway for getting off schedule and spontaneous moments of exploration.
Plan for your worst-case scenarios. What are you going to do if the kids get sick? Or what about your dog? Luckily, there are many remote and virtual ways to connect with your doctor and vet, such as online vet help.
2. Set A Budget
As you plan your trip, consider what you want to do, how much is appropriate to spend (skydiving or dinner, honey?), and keep in mind the bills you are responsible for when you get home.
Too often, people fail to budget for the first couple weeks after a trip which can adversely affect your budget and standard of living until you "make up" from lost income and what you spent on your journey.
A budget also helps you stay focused on why you're on your trip in the first place. Do you need a coffee mug from every gas station you get gas from? Probably not, but hey, maybe.
3. Pack Once, Pack Twice
Space is at a premium on a road trip so learning how to pack for all the destinations you plan on visiting is a process, for sure.
It's easier to overpack than it is to pack properly. I mean, you're hiking the grand canyon. Do you need a gown? I don't think so, but that's something only you can answer.
The trick is to pack your gear and clothes, see how much you are planning on taking, and then unpack it all. Thoughtfully, unpack everything.
Evaluate everything you have and ask if some things can be left behind. Do you need to pack a second flower vase? Or even one vase at all?
Once you evaluate all the things, you plan to take, prioritize the items and repack. If it's low on the priority and you start to run out of room, leave it home.