Road trip mistakes

Lessons learned from Root customers and employees.

Road trip season brings adventure and memories. Unfortunately, some of those memories become important lessons for future trips.

We asked Root customers and employees about the lessons they’ve learned from past road trips. From a funeral home Airbnb to sawing through a floorboard, the Root community shares their biggest road trip mistakes and massive fails so you don’t make them, too.

  1. Not planning ahead
  2. Wasting time, wasting money
  3. Relying on technology
  4. Ignoring the car’s signals
  5. Expecting a flawless trip

Not planning ahead

A car trip can turn into a fiasco if you forego road trip planning. Mapping out a route and packing the right snacks are critical, but planning for vacation unknowns is also important.

“My biggest mistake was not planning out the time of day we would arrive. I ended up at the Field of Dreams [movie site] in Iowa at 2 am!”

—Root employee Justine D.

“I slept on the side of the PA turnpike because I partied too hard the nite b4 the drive.”

—Root customer Kevin T.

“Drove to Myrtle Beach only to find our hotel room was canceled.”

—Root customer Austin S.

Wasting time, wasting money

A road trip detour or mishap can waste time and money. If you want a smooth and cheap vacation, triple check your supplies and directions before heading out. Or be prepared for these kinds of experiences.

“My dad decided to take a 'shortcut' through the mountains for some nice scenery and less traffic. My youngest brother was only a baby, and all four of us kids got carsick even going from home to school. Well, surprise surprise, every single one of us threw up thanks to the wavy, hilly roads, and it also took 2 hours longer. Moral of the story: weigh the pros and cons of an impromptu change of plans, especially if you've got kids in the car!”

—Root employee Katie D.

“My (now) wife and I were going to PA from MO to get our marriage license. Somewhere in IL, we realized I had forgotten my Social Security card and had to turn around. Overall we wasted about 6-7 hours that day.”

—Root customer Austin T.

“On one trip to New York, after getting 3 kids in the car super early, we realized at the first stop that our youngest...didn't put on shoes. Our first stop included new shoes.”

—Root employee Brendan O.

Relying on technology

Smartphones and navigation systems can be great on road trips—when they work. But too much reliance on anything can cause trouble. Backup paper maps and extra chargers are a must for your road trip supply kit. (But sometimes you learn the hard way.)

“I wanted to stop by DQ for a Blizzard during a weekend getaway to Hocking Hills with wifey. She said it would take too long. I told her it would be quick. As we continued to drive, the road got dark, the trees reached high, the forest grew dense. Twenty minutes later, the overly confident GPS British accent announced, ‘You have arrived!’ We were in the middle of a small clearing. A lone turkey vulture patrolled the sky above. I took a moment to belly laugh at myself in the middle of nowhere and apologized to my wife for my epic DQ distraction.”

—Root employee Jeff B.

Ignoring the car’s signals

The car’s warning lights are there for a reason. And so is the gas gauge. We recommend getting your vehicle checked by a mechanic before you take a road trip, but definitely don’t ignore signs of distress before—or during—your trip.

“On a multi-family road trip out west, the car started to stall out randomly. Kept driving it into the winding switchbacks anyway. Then the car stalled out when approaching a curve, causing sheer terror since the power steering failed with it. Ended up stuck high up in the mountains with a non-functioning car. Was forced to saw through the floorboard to get access to the gas tank so I could replace the fuel pump. I recommend avoiding this situation.”

—Root employee Michael K.

“I’d been driving for 5 ½ hours and was only 30 miles from my destination. My car fuel range indicated I had 42 miles left so I decided to risk it. Then I saw brake lights. 10 miles per hour, 6 miles per hour, 3, 2, 1...then a complete stop. 1 ½ hours later, after people had used the side of the road as a public restroom and soccer field, two lanes started to crawl. I made it to a gas station but the risk wasn’t worth the angst.”

—Root employee Grace A.

Expecting a flawless trip

While we can all hope for the best road trip possible, there are always some unexpected mishaps. Minor challenges may not set you back much time or money, but getting in a car carries major risk

“The window got stuck down on my friend’s car the last day we were in Florida. Had to drive back from Florida to Ohio with the window down the whole time. It went from 80 to snowing real fast along the way. And the plastic we taped to the window didn't work well.”

—Root employee Nicole B.

“A backpack fell out of the car in the middle of WY! But a good Samaritan mailed it back to me!”

—Root customer Austin H.


All of us at Root hope your summer road trips go much more smoothly than the stories here. While we can’t help you plan out the specifics of your trip, we can eliminate some stress by offering great car insurance rates—good drivers save up to 52%. And Roadside Assistance is included in every auto insurance policy, so if something does go wrong, we’ll help you get back on the road. See how much you can save for vacation and get a free car insurance quote.

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See the Root road trip tips next.

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