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A Central Floridian’s Guide to planning a road trip

A Central Floridian’s Guide to planning a road trip

Posted at Tue, Jan 16, 2024 9:15 AM

A Central Floridian’s Guide to planning a road trip

What do you think of when you hear the words “road trip?” Scenic landscapes rolling past the window? Your favorite tunes blaring through the speakers? A cooler of snacks in the back seat? Adventure on the horizon?

Reality isn’t always quite so easy-breezy. After all, someone has to pack the cooler, put the luggage in the trunk, volunteer to drive during the rush-hour stretches … and that’s not to mention the mandatory struggle over music control.

After reading our best tips for road trip bliss, you’ll agree the most important part of a successful journey happens before you pull out of the driveway.

No one knows road trip advice like Mullinax, so follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to smooth driving and new horizons in no time.


Step 1: Ready your ride

Almost any vehicle trouble you encounter on your road trip — a flat tire, a drained car battery, a failed engine, brake trouble — can be avoided by visiting your local dealership. Stay ahead of the curve and avoid a dreaded roadside breakdown by scheduling a visit before you leave.

At Mullinax Ford of Central Florida, Mullinax Ford of New Smyrna Beach and Mullinax Ford of Kissimmee, our team will inspect every inch of your vehicle to prepare your ride for a safe journey. You name it, we’ll check it — including components from brake pads to suspension.

The Mullinax service department may prescribe services like

  • Topping off vehicle fluids (think of all the weeks of dirt that’ll build on your windshield without a steady supply of windshield wiper fluid!)
  • Air conditioner repair, to keep you, your passengers and your snacks chilled
  • Tire pressure adjustment, so that your wheels will grip the road through slick highways and muddy trails
  • Oil and filter changes
  • Replacing or adjusting your brake pads, rotors and calipers

…all depending on your vehicle’s test results. Getting your car checked out before logging thousands of miles will ensure you and your passengers’ security. Safe to say that Mullinax takes safety seriously.


Step 2: Prepare some playlists

Whether your family prefers podcasts, audiobooks, music or even the sound of silence, be sure to have the rules of the radio established before leaving.

You might:

  • Select a favorite book to rent on audio
  • Contribute songs to one group playlist
  • Give one-hour time slots for each rider to play their own music
  • Use the standby “driver’s choice” rule (although this could annoy those too young to get behind the wheel)

If you’re looking for some playlist recommendations, search no further than Mullinax’s website, where we’ve curated our favorite hits by genre. From country to alternative, our picks are guaranteed to get you grooving behind the wheel. 


Step 3: Situate the snacks

The number one rule for a successful road trip: avoid “hangriness” at all costs.

Packing your own snacks cuts down on gas station or fast food pullovers, sparing your wallet and boosting road time efficiency. Why spend time at McDonald’s when you can be admiring a scenic overlook or catching some Z’s at your AirBnB?

Our list of road trip snacks is chock-full of yummy (and efficient) bites.


Step 4: Research your route

It’s about the journey, people.

Sure, you may have an end destination in mind, but the beauty of a road trip is the places you see along the way.

Before you go, look at your route and mark landmarks to visit so you can cross off bucket-list locales while not detouring far from your original route.

Some ways you can squeeze in extra sightseeing are:

  • Researching scenic roads or overlooks that diverge from mainstream highways
  • Planning out overnight stays in cities you’ve always wanted to visit
  • Stretching your legs at a national or state park, rather than a rest stop
  • Taking a couple days out of your trip to explore a fun destination along the way

Step 5: Schedule spending

Budget, budget, budget.

You may be automatically saving air-fare money by taking to the streets rather than the skies, but that doesn’t give you a free pass for trip spending.

Create a daily or weekly budget, including money for souvenirs, lodging, food and gas, and stick to it.


Step 6: Book activities in advance

What do museum tickets, ferry rides and camping sites have in common? They fill up fast.

Save yourself the scramble for last-minute tickets by booking popular attractions ahead of time.

You and your family can save money and increase adventure by camping for even just a portion of your road trip. State or national parks generally have cheaper rates than hotels or motels, but they also book up fast, so reserve your spot well ahead of time.

Check campsite accommodations beforehand to know what to expect in terms of bathroom facilities and electricity.


Step 7: Navigation know-how

In the era of Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps, we’re not sure we’ve even retained the ability to hold a paper map rightside-up.

That being said, consider keeping physical maps in case you find yourself out of cell range.

You can also download offline maps of the regions you plan to explore, so you can voyage without fear of reception deserts.

But even cell phone maps are fading as built-in GPS systemsfor a phone or let navigation apps drain your cell battery.


Check out the major roads you’ll be using and have an idea of your route’s logistics. That includes:

  • Potential fun rest stops and gas stations — yes, Southerners, we’re talking Buc-ee's.
  • Major cities you’ll have to drive through — and when you’ll drive through them (avoid rush-hour and dinnertime traffic)
  • Places to switch drivers
  • Grocery stores to replenish your food supply

If you drive an electric vehicle, you’ll want to know how far you can go on a charge and where to find charging stations along your route. Most manufacturers provide an app to help you figure out how often and where you’ll need to stop.

Supercharger stations, which charge electric vehicles more quickly than traditional destination chargers, are a roadtripper’s best friend, so know which of these stations you can plan to visit before you go.

Some chargers are even adjacent to restaurants or grocery stores that’ll allow you to get in some shopping or eating while you charge.


Step 8: Be Wary of Weather

Floridians usually won’t have to worry about icy streets or snow tires, but it’s always good to be prepared during northward expeditions.

Check the typical climate of your destination — and the route you’ll take to get there. Every Floridian gets excited about the idea of snow, but when driving, snow can be a hassle, not a miracle, if you don’t prepare properly.

You may need winter tires — and our Mullinax dealerships would be happy to help out with that service before your trip.

Also keep in mind how rainstorms or heat waves could impact your travel. Check temperatures and radars before you go and on the road to stay up-to-date (and know whether your umbrella can stay in the trunk).


Step 9: Keep the Car Clean

Pack any group of people into a tight space for miles on end and messes will arise. You can keep the car clutter-free and morale high by:

  • Buying an in-car trash can for food waste and wrappers
  • Keeping the essentials in the front (and banishing other supplies to the trunk)
  • Looking into storage solutions like adjustable backseat organizers, roof racks or under-seat boxes

Making sure everything has a place in your car will cut down on rummaging-around time and keep the essentials on hand for your convenience.


Step 10: Lodging

Find spots for road-trip shut-eye by looking into:

  • Short-term rental units, like AirBnB or VRBO
  • Local B&Bs or inns
  • Hotel chains
  • Campsites at private, state or national parks

Alternate between campsites and hotels if you’re looking to get in some nature time while still maintaining a steady access to hot meals, showers and pillow mints. Or, if you’ve already got some camping experience under your belt and are ready to level up, check out Mullinax’s car-camping guide for what to pack on a hardcore wilderness adventure.

If you’re not feeling up to packing (or pitching) a tent, look into cabin rentals, which give you the comfort of a real bed and the ambiance of the wilderness.


Step 11: Planning is fun

A lot of preparation goes into a safe, efficient road trip. But think of the planning phase as a way to get excited about the trip to come, and snack-packing and map-drawing become a lot more motivating.

Involve your companions in the routing process, and make sure everyone can cross must-see items off their bucket list. There’s no trip like a road trip to explore the world around you.

At Mullinax, we’re happy to send you on your travels safely and in good spirits. Happy road-tripping.

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