Ah, the wide open road stretched before you on a summer’s day, full of possibilities. What could be finer? It all sounds great, but the average road trip does not usually live up to the rose-tinted expectations. Crowded roads, unpredictable weather and stroppy passengers can combine to turn the dream into a nightmare.

Here are five tips for a road trip that you will remember for all the right reasons:

1. Remember Benjamin Franklin

No, not your kid’s imaginary friend, but the Founding Father of the US. He is famed for the quote, “When you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail,” and he clearly knew a thing or two about road trips.

Check that the car is ready for action. That means fuel, oil, coolant, screen wash and tyre pressures. Also, do the whole family a favour and give it a clean inside and out before you start. Everyone will start off happy and fresh, and you will be able to see out of the windows without squinting through layers of dust and bugs.

2. Enjoy the journey 

The whole idea of a road trip is the journey itself, so if you hurry to get to your destination as fast as possible, you are somewhat missing the point. 

Allow yourself plenty of stops, particularly if you have younger passengers on board, and explore some new locations. The country is full of villages and towns with attractions that you never even knew existed.

3. Avoid the life-sapping service areas

With all those possibilities mentioned above, there is really no need to subject yourself to the nightmare that is the average motorway service area. Unless, of course, you are desperate to show your family what it might be like to survive the first wave of a zombie apocalypse. 

Aside from being among the most depressing places on earth, they are also outrageously expensive, catering to their captive audience of the undead. Top the car up when you pass a supermarket, and while you are there, grab some supplies for the family – your wallet will thank you.

4. In-car entertainment 

Back-to-back Led Zeppelin CDs or whatever is on Radio 4 might suit you and your partner for a stress-free journey, but if you have offspring in the back, they will soon be climbing the walls. 

From games such as I Spy to the good old electronic babysitter that is the iPad or similar, make sure that you have some ideas up your sleeve to keep their brains engaged, and everyone will have a more pleasant trip. 

5. Declutter

Travel light. A road trip is about leaving your worries behind for a while. If you try to take half your worldly goods with you, all that will happen is you will be stressing that you have forgotten to pack something of crucial importance. You will then find that you can barely fit the family in around all the luggage, and the car will return appalling fuel economy because it is lugging the entire contents of your house across the country.

How to take a stress-free road trip