20 Sure-Fire Ways to Screw up Your Labor Day Road Trip

by katie Sorene

Hitting the road this Labor Day? Steer clear of road-trip hell by checking out these 20 common holiday driving blunders and get it right this year!

It all sounds very nice in theory doesn’t it? Hop into the car, speed off onto the open road with the wind in your hair for a fun-filled Labor Day road trip.

Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out like this, I’ve certainly had some road trip shockers that’s for sure.

But this is the year to turn it all around! Check out these 20 sure-fire ways to screw up your Labor Day road trip and get it right this time!

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1. Neglect Your Vehicle

It seems pretty obvious that you should give your car a maintenance check before you set off on a long road trip but you’d be amazed how many people don’t think of this.

Oil, water, wipers, headlamps, brakes – check it all out!

2. Drive Dirty

It’s not the nicest experience being stuck in a filthy car for 7 hours so why not give it a clean – inside and out? If not now, when?!

3. Be Spontaneous

Road trips and spontaneity are not the most comfortable of bedfellows.

Plan, plan and plan some more.

Get tips and recommendations from friends and use an road trip planner online to work out ideal destinations, distances and driving times.

4. Believe “Breakdowns Don’t Happen to Me”

Let’s hope you don’t break down but you just might.

Pay up for roadside rescue, if the unspeakable happens, you’ll be overjoyed you did.

5. Leave Your Papers at Home

License, registration, insurance – put the documents in your glove box. Now!

6. Jump in the Car with Anyone

You receive a last-minute offer to bunk in on someone else’s road trip, great!

But you need to STOP and THINK: “will I enjoy being stuck in a tin can with these people for many, many hours”?

If the answer’s no then DON”T GO!

7. Join the “Follow the Signs” School of Thought

Believe it or not the road people didn’t have you in mind when they made their signs.

Get a map.

Plan your route.

Sure, you can use GPS but take the map too. Just in case.

8. Starve Your Family/Friends

Food and drink is important. Gas station food sucks. Bring your own.

9. Put Style over Comfort

It’s not a fashion parade. You’re sitting in a car. For hours. Dress comfortably. Slip-off shoes are great for all those “in the car, out the car” stop-offs.

10. Forget that Children Get Bored

Don’t expect the kids to sit like angels in the back for hours on end. It’s just not going to happen.

Games, puzzles, crosswords, car games. Have some ammunition in your armory – you’ll need it.

11. Sentence Your Passengers to Silence

Singing along to your all-time favorite songs is one the very best things about road trips.

Sort out the tunes before you go and get ready to belt it out!

12. Be the Hare not the Tortoise

Your road trip is meant to be fun and enjoyable. And, at the risk of sounding like your mother, it’s a marathon not a sprint!

You’ll lose time along the way (possibly even hours) but don’t sweat it. It’s not worth it.

Break up with your trip with stop-offs every hour and half.

Your passengers will love you for it.

13. Assign Rigid Roles

The driver will get bored of driving and the navigator will get bored of navigating.

So swop.

Much more fun for everyone.

14. Become a Road Trip Dictator

Consult your fellow road trippers about diversions and activities otherwise your bossiness will spoil everyone’s fun.

Get the kids involved in tracking your route. It will keep them occupied. Maybe.

15. Be Slap-dash with Gas

Don’t wait until you’re running on empty until you think about filling up. You can never be sure when the next gas station will appear.

Cool widgets like this Gas Calculator helps you work out exactly how far your fuel will take you. So there’s no excuse!

16. Be Stingy with Bathroom Breaks

If someone really wants to go then let them.

Refer to Hare and the Tortoise and Road Trip Dictator points above!

17. Work Yourself up into a “Lost Frenzy”

Yes getting lost can be stressful and sometimes scary but panicking/shouting/blaming your significant other isn’t going to help the situation.

Breathe, relax, get some perspective and I guarantee you’ll find your way. Eventually.

18. Be a Traffic Fool

Tailback misery, it’s not fun. Set off early, come back late. Even better, take an extra day either side of the holiday weekend.

19. Get Arrested

A sure-fire way to screw up your trip if ever there was one.

Don’t speed, belt up and don’t get arrested.

20. Take the Whole Thing too Seriously

Let me remind you again that this whole thing is meant to be FUN. If you happen to pass a cool place to stop off, take a detour and if it works out that way (shock, horror) change your route.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Got more road trip tips or Labor Day disaster stories?? Post up your comments below, we want to hear from you!

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6 comments… read them below or Add a Comment


TOO true – these made me laugh!

James Haskell

I will have to keep thoses tip in mine for my next trip.

Nancy D. Brown

Perfect timing. I just wrote a guest post on Basic Travel Tips with a sense of humor. Check it out,
Safe travels!

Rodney Todd

As an Aussie and an ex road train driver I’d suggest this advice ios good for any type of driving not just a holiday weekend I drive outback Australia on a regular basis and out there poor preparation can cost you your life. a short trip for me is around the 150 mile mark so believe me I know what I’m talking about. One tip missed take a break every couple of hours even if you just walk around your vehicle for ten minutes Happy travels


Great post! You are such a witty writer with great travel tips!


Definitely some good advice in that list but, don’t be spontaneous??? To each his own I suppose, but the best road trips I’ve ever taken had little or no planning. I took a trip to St Louis in august over the course of 9 days and the only plan I had was a Ticket for a baseball game and that I knew I wanted to drive scenic routes. I just drove in the general direction and took whatever road struck my fancy. I ended up in some neat, off the beaten path, places and met some great people. The trick is to leave yourself more than enough time. You don’t want to plan to be on the road all day every day so pick a destination that is easily within reach in the time you have. A weekend trip doesn’t need to take you more than a few hundred miles which leaves plenty of time to get lost and have a real adventure.

I was on my motorcycle for that trip but otherwise don’t drive dirty is HUGE. That and dressing comfortably will make any trip significantly better.

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