How Long Should A Road Trip Be? 5 Questions To Help You Decide

According to one survey, the perfect road trip involves 13 hours of driving spread across five days. But how long should a road trip be? The answer depends on many factors, including your budget and time constraints.

In this article, we dive into the top five questions you should ask yourself before planning out your next road trip.

Adventure awaits. How long should a road trip be?

How Long Should A Road Trip Be?

Good road trips range from short day trips to week-long excursions. We think you have to spend at least four hours in the car to call it a road trip, but there aren’t many qualifiers other than that. And that’s one reason we love a good road trip. All you need is the open road and some good tunes.

Still, how long should a road trip be? There are a thousand different considerations, but here are the top five questions to ask yourself before hitting the open road:

Question #1: What’s The Purpose Of Your Trip?

The first thing you should consider when deciding on the perfect road trip is your intended goals for the road trip.

Are you traveling with a loaded car because you are taking your oldest kid to college? Or are you looking to escape civilization while you do some hiking and camping? Those are two different types of road trips, so be honest with yourself regarding what is reasonable.

For those traveling to a specific destination, we recommend planning your road trip so you have about eight hours of driving per day. You might spend a little longer driving if it will help you extend your stay at your end destination.

For those that care more about the journey than the destination, we recommend shorter driving distances. This will give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy different places and cultures along the way.

Consider the main reason you are taking a road trip. Trips for sightseeing, visiting with friends or family, or simply getting away may all look different. Understanding your goals for the trip will help you determine the ideal duration to make the most of the trip.

Enjoy the journey on your next road trip.

Question #2: Do You Have Time Constraints?

The last thing that you want on your road trip is to be stressed. After all, isn’t the entire purpose to unwind? With this in mind, consider any time constraints before you plan your trip.

For you weekend warriors out there, avoid the urge to spend the entire weekend in the car. Pick a route or destination that will give you a taste of the open road but is also close enough for you to enjoy some free time along the way.

On the other hand, for those looking to kill a week on the road, we encourage you to open up your ambitions. Pick a route or destination that you’ve never visited before, and start exploring.

While many of us take road trips to escape our daily routines, personal and professional commitments can’t be ignored. Plan your trip so that you will avoid undue stress.

Coastal highway

Question #3: Do You Have A Limited Budget?

Your budget is another limitation you must consider, even if you would prefer to ignore it. Money is a reality of life, so deciding how much money you have to invest in your road trip is important.

Gas and food are the obvious considerations, but you might spend money on food regardless of your location. Still, gas prices are pretty volatile. They go up and down all of the time but are often higher during peak road trip season.

And while these smaller expenses add up, the bigger expenses can make or break your trip. Did you know that the average price for a hotel now tops $200? One night in a hotel is expensive enough, but seven nights in a hotel get VERY pricey.

Camping is one way to save some money on your trip, but camping may require additional planning. After all, you will want to know where camping sites are available. Still, at $200+ per night, camping makes sense if you don’t mind roughing it.

Whether you want to admit it or not, you must consider your budget before deciding how long your road trip will be.

Winding road.

Question #4: Will You Have Travel Companions?

Who will be joining you on this road trip? It’s a simple question but one that may greatly impact your decisions.

For example, we recommend shorter driving distances for those traveling with babies and small children. That’s obvious, but have you considered the preferences of your other passengers?

Everyone has their own preferences, and some preferences may conflict with others. That’s just a reality of life. Still, the more that you can avoid discomfort and disagreements, the more enjoyable your road trip will be.

Some people like to dehydrate themselves to avoid stopping at restrooms. Others consider frequent stops part of the journey.

Some may enjoy camping, while others may prefer a lush hotel bed and a hot shower.

While there is no right or wrong answer, our experience is that some personalities may be bigger than others personalities. Don’t set yourself up for an unpleasant trip. Ask questions and communicate often so that everyone understands the game plan.

To choose the perfect road trip length, you should consider your other road trippers’ preferences, physical abilities, and personal schedules.

Family road trip

Question #5: Are There Specific Routes or Attractions You Have In Mind?

Lastly, what’s the point of a road trip without scenic views and fun attractions? In deciding whether the journey or destination matters most to you, you can better envision what type of road trip makes the most sense.

We encourage following the open road. Of course, the downside to doing this is that you may or may not see anything interesting along the way. This type of road-tripping might be best reserved for those with few time constraints.

For those with a tighter time frame, we recommend either picking a destination or a specific route. Once you’ve chosen your route, search for interesting towns, attractions, and other points of interest along the way.

Eating lunch in a small downtown gives you the opportunity to experience a new environment. And considering popular hiking routes is a great way to stretch your leg while enjoying mostly free entertainment.

In deciding how much time you need for your road trip, consider how much time you need for stops, breaks, sightseeing, and exploring. There are always plenty of things to do on a road trip, but a little research and planning will enhance your experience.

Pedestrian Bridge.

Deciding How Long Your Road Trip Should Be

There are many benefits to taking road trips, but it helps to do at least a little planning before you leave. For example, deciding how long your road trip will be is important to consider. After all, most of us have jobs and mortgages or rent to consider. 😎

If you don’t, more power to you. The rest of us need to give a little forethought to our road trip, even when we plan to follow the open road wherever it may lead.

Consider Your Vehicle

One last reality: You need to consider your vehicle. Is it well-maintained and reliable? Well, you can feel more confident setting out for the horizon. If you have worn tires and missed oil changes, you might choose to stay closer to home.

Taking an electric vehicle also presents new considerations. Electric charging stations are more prevalent than they used to be, but they are still harder to find than gas stations. To avoid getting stranded, you must plan your route by charging stations.

Regardless, we recommend that you consider roadside assistance, like AAA alternatives. This will give you peace of mind along the way.

We love to travel, and while travel is often all about freedom and flexibility, a few smart decisions will pay dividends.

Family car ride.

The Verdict: How Long Should A Road Trip Be

Our favorite type of road trip is a good long day trip. Spend four or five hours in the car, see somewhere new, do something fun, and avoid spending money on a hotel.

Still, we understand that many of you will want to get away for longer than a day. If this is the case, consider the five questions that we detailed above:

  1. What’s the purpose of your trip?
  2. Do you have time constraints?
  3. Do you have a limited budget?
  4. Will you have travel companions?
  5. Are there routes or attractions you have in mind?

Answering these questions will give you a good idea regarding how long your road trip should be.

For context, remember that surveys indicate that the “perfect” road trip takes about five days, including around 15 hours of driving. We recommend stopping every two hours to let everyone stretch their legs.

Read here for interesting road-tripping facts and stats. Happy road-tripping!

Jeremiah moved to the Charlotte area with his wife, Erin, back in 2013. The family has grown over the years, and they now call the Carolinas home. They enjoy hiking and adventures, road trips, backyard fire pits, and pizza night. Jeremiah loves to explore, and looks forward to sharing tips, tricks, and resources for your next trip.