(BPT) - You’re planning your next vacation with your spouse or family, and you know one thing: You don’t want to keep revisiting the same old places you’ve always gone for a little R&R. What could be more fun than going someplace new, changing up your route, and seeing some new sights for a change?
Here are some tips for shaking up your vacation plans this year, and opting for the “road less traveled”:
1. Go somewhere off the beaten path
Even if you're traveling on a budget, you can find somewhere new and exciting to explore. In fact, if you visit a less touristy location, chances are it’ll be less expensive. Try searching travel destinations online using a variety of terms like “unusual,” “offbeat,” “hidden gems” or “quirky,” along with your desired state or region. For example, search: “unusual travel destinations in Wisconsin.” Peruse the articles you find for ideas of unfamiliar locations. Or ask friends and family for travel ideas, letting them know you're looking for something different from the ordinary vacation spots.
2. Choose an alternate route
If your family insists on visiting the same place they look forward to each year, propose taking a new route to get there. Yes, it could take a bit longer, as you won’t be choosing the fastest route from point A to point B, but you might find some amazing new sight, pit stop or scenic side road that could be your next top vacation spot. Do an online search for alternative routes and tell your family about some of the fun, interesting or quaint spots you locate — away from the interstate — that might make the journey even better than the destination.
3. Prep your vehicle
Before leaving, make sure the brakes are in great shape, fluids are full and you’re up-to-date on routine maintenance. To explore unpaved gravel or dirt roads — or no road at all — you need the right tires for the job. If you don’t have all-terrain tires, invest in tires that can handle everything from normal highway driving to rugged off-road conditions. For example, Yokohoma’s new Geolandar X-AT is an extreme all-terrain tire that can tackle serious off-road terrain while providing outstanding on-road comfort and protection against impacts and punctures, plus unsurpassed on- and off-road traction. The Geolandar X-AT is designed for pickup trucks, Jeeps and SUVs, with sizes ranging from 15-22 inches. Because choosing new routes can mean going off the highway, you'll want your vehicle to be able to handle it, no matter what kinds of roads you travel.
4. Pack wisely
Since you may be encountering the unexpected on your off-beat journey, pack plenty of safety items to ensure you’re ready for anything. Check your spare tire’s condition and air pressure, assemble a road safety kit with a jack, triangle reflectors, flares, flashlights, extra motor oil, jumper cables and a tool kit. Bring paper road maps in case you have no digital connection while traveling. Pack a well-stocked first aid kit, extra batteries and chargers, plenty of bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Sign up for a roadside assistance service if you don’t have one. Pack lots of sunscreen, bug spray, extra towels and clothes for any type of weather you may encounter.
5. Have fun!
Engage your spouse and kids in choosing some of your off-the-beaten-path routes and venues, both before and during the trip. Invite everyone to participate in recording your journey using a journal or photos on social media. Be spontaneous and stay open to exploring all kinds of new places and activities that may not have shown up on the websites or guide books ahead of time. This trip could be an amazing opportunity to bond with the family, as well as expand everyone's horizons.