Stopping on a Road Trip

By Kimberly Graf. Published on September 16, 2018

How often you decide to stop during a road trip is an entirely personal choice. It should be agreed upon with the people you are traveling with, and tailored to the needs of your passengers.

There are only a few factors dictating the amount of time between your stops, and you can stop as often or as little as you wish based upon these. Smaller children obviously need to stretch their legs more often, or take more frequent breaks to avoid becoming grumpy or bored. Dogs need to be walked more frequently than you might like to stop, so always consider this when traveling with a pet. The needs of the ones traveling with you should always be considered when making the decision to stop.

A woman with three children in a road trip

During the day, you may decide to drive for long stretches of time and take longer breaks. If you choose to drive for three hours at a time, you may need to take breaks as long as a half-hour when you do stop. Some people prefer to drive for longer periods, but three hours is about the longest recommended driving time without a break.

However, some people like to stop more often than this. If sitting for long periods of times puts you in any sort of discomfort, you may need to stop and walk around as often as every half hour. If you aren't on any sort of schedule, this is perfectly fine. If you have a certain time you need to be at your destination, make sure to give yourself an extra few hours of travel time to accommodate this.

Your car may also provide an indicator of how often you should stop. If you drive a larger car that runs through gas fairly quickly, you will need to stop more often anyway to refuel. Smaller cars or more fuel-efficient vehicles will need to stop less often. If you time your rest stops with your refueling points, you have the opportunity to get snacks and drinks and use restroom facilities at travel stations.

But you don't always have to stop at gas stations or diners; your rest stops can be anywhere along the road, as long as it’s safe to pull the car over. Most highways have roadside parks or rest stops that are made for this purpose, with dog-walking areas and vending machines. Most highways will have some sort of historical markers along the way. These are indicated by brown road signs. Even the smaller historical markers have an information board detailing what happened in the area, and most have seating and a peaceful atmosphere. There are even scenic pull-offs to utilize on some roads. Basically, as long as you aren't parked on the shoulder or obstructing traffic, you can stop anywhere you choose to stretch your legs and take a break from the road.

a woman yawning while driving

Stopping for the night or to sleep during a road trip is another matter entirely. The safe limit for driving during a single day is about twelve hours. Any longer and you should switch drivers or pull over to rest. The safest thing to do is to stop for the night in a hotel or motel along the way to allow everyone to get some rest before continuing. Most motels allow you to check in at any time, though they all have a check-out time. This is 11am for most places, and if you decide to stay longer, you will be charge for another night.

But if motels aren't your style, there are other options. Most RV parks have spaces for people to rest inside their vehicles, though there may be a charge. Rest stops along most highways always have a large variety of cars pulled over for the night. It is generally considered safe to pull out of the way and lock your doors to take a quick nap.

stretching legs near a car

The most important thing to consider when deciding how often to stop during a road trip is safety. If you feel drowsy, can't focus on the road, or have been driving for more than twelve hours without a long break, you should consider stopping for your safety and the safety of other cars on the road.

Ultimately, this is the only rule for stopping on long road trips. Everyone will have different opinions and preferences for how often they stop, and as long as everyone agrees and all passenger needs are taken into account, there are no hard-and-fast rules. Some people like to take it easy and not rush to their destination, while others prefer to be there as quickly as possible. It all depends on the driver and who they are traveling with.


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