‘Tis the season — for a road trip.
American Southwest on a highway road trip near Monument Valley Tribal Park.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As the country embraces warmer weather, millions of Americans are expected to pack up and embark on a road trip this summer.

With more people hitting the road, there are more opportunities for things to go awry. But for travelers who are planning on joining the traffic this season, there are a few steps to take to ensure that your summer road trip goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Pick friends

The most important part of planning the road trip is the very first step — deciding who will fill up the car. You’re going to be stuck in a vehicle with them for hours on end, so choose wisely.

Generally good traits to look for in a road trip companion is someone with a good sense of humor, who doesn’t mind when plans change and who can drive without making everybody on the road fear for their lives.

2. Budget

After filling all the seats in the car, have a discussion about how much money everybody is willing to chip in for the trip. Budget will affect the distance traveled, length of trip, sleeping accommodations and dining options while on the road. Not to mention the actual vehicle.

Road Trip Tips
Credit: Mariah Tyler

3. Pick a destination

After determining a budget and timeframe for the trip, start planning an itinerary. Consider starting a Google List of destinations everybody in the car would like to see. After everybody has added their desired locations, start planning out a rough route.

If you don’t have any destination in mind, consider picking one based off of your zodiac sign or visit every single state in the continental U.S. Try to make reservations early for any spots that are likely to be popular (ex. the Grand Canyon).

4. Prepare the car

If the designated road trip car is one already in your possession, be sure to take the car in for an inspection at least one week before the trip. There’s nothing worse than dealing with bad brakes or a breakdown while on a trip.

Even for those who have decided to rent a car, it’s important to get supplies ready before heading out. Have tools to change a tire alongside an emergency kit, including water, shelf-stable snacks, blankets, a flashlight, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and a battery phone charger. Throw a bag with wet-wipes, trash bags and paper towels somewhere in the car to deal with spills and messes on the road.

Check out Travel + Leisure’s full list of smart hacks to make your car the best environment for days on the road.

5. Make the soundtrack

And now, perhaps the most important part: Make a soundtrack.

Create a collaborative playlist on Spotify that everybody can add their favorite tunes to. Before departure, be sure to download the playlist for offline listening. Nobody wants the music to cut out because of a bad signal on back roads.