8 common road trip mistakes, and how to avoid them

With a road trip, you have the freedom to do things your way: your tunes, your snacks, and your schedule. So, really, there’s no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” road trip itinerary. For some, a driving vacation is just a convenient way to get to your final destination while saving on the cost of airfare. (If you think gas prices are high, try pricing plane tickets for a family of four!) For others, the journey is the vacation.

No matter where you’re heading this summer though, if you’re planning on taking a road trip to get there, there are a few rookie mistakes you can avoid for a smoother, less stressful ride. In partnership with CIBC, we’ve compiled a few essential tips to help you minimize common sources of road trip stress, so you can take on the open road with confidence.

1. Neglecting to give your car a once-over before you leave

Latin young woman making autostop and asking for a ride after her boyfriend's car broke down
Photo via Getty Images (Antonio_Diaz via Getty Images)

Your car is what’s going to bring you to your destination, but it won’t be much help if it’s smoking on the side of the road. Before heading out on a long drive, it’s important to ensure your vehicle is in good working order. That means topping up your fluids, checking your tire pressure, and taking it in for an oil change and tune-up if you’re due for one.

2. Not taking advantage of cash back and other potential savings

Young hispanic couple on vacation using smartphone sitting on bench at the beach.
Photo via Getty Images (AaronAmat via Getty Images)

Between rising gas prices and other costly travel expenses, savvy road-trippers will be looking for ways to maximize every cent this summer. And if you’re not taking advantage of a credit card that gives cash back and other potential ways to save, you’re effectively leaving money on the table every time you stop to fuel up.

With the CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card, you can earn 4% cash back on eligible gas and groceries (so go ahead and stock up on snacks!), plus up to 2% on everything else†. And you can save even more money at the pump by linking your CIBC Dividend card to a free Journie Rewards account. You’ll automatically save up to 10 cents per litre off at participating Pioneer, Fas Gas, Ultramar and Chevron stations on top of the cash back you’re already earning by paying with your Dividend Visa†. All those extra savings can add up fast, whether you’re heading on an epic cross-country adventure or just out of town for a long weekend.

3. Paying for rental car insurance you don’t need

Beautiful young woman driving her new car at sunset. Woman in car. Close up portrait of pleasant looking female with glad positive expression, woman in casual wear driving a car
Photo via Getty Images (stefanamer via Getty Images)

If you’re renting a car for your road trip, it’s always a smart idea to make sure you’re covered for any potential mishaps you may run into along the way. But before you accept that extra insurance upsell at the rental desk, it’s worth checking to see if you’re already covered by your credit card.

The CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite provides car rental insurance for theft or damage. In case you have questions before renting a car with your CIBC Dividend Visa Card, you should contact the insurance company.

4. Overplanning, or underplanning

Young woman on a road trip in the beautiful nature, relaxing, using an all terrain vehicle for sightseeing.
Photo via Getty Images (lechatnoir via Getty Images)

There’s an element of spontaneity built into taking a road trip—embrace it! Don’t make the mistake of overplanning your itinerary down to the minute and risk missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime stop. You may never drive this stretch of road again, so take time to pause and enjoy a beautiful lake view, indulge in a slice of pie at a quaint roadside diner, or explore the unique shops that small town you’re passing through has to offer. You just might make an unexpected memory you’ll cherish for years to come.

On the flip side, if you do have a planned stop at a restaurant, museum or other attraction, check to make sure they’re open on the day and time you intend to visit, then check again day of just in case. There’s nothing more disappointing than driving all that way only to be met with a “Closed” sign.

5. Not packing appropriately

Kids helping to pack the family car for road trip. 
Sunny summer day in Italy.
Nikon D850
Photo via Getty Images (Imgorthand via Getty Images)

Spontaneity on the road is one thing, but being underprepared for an emergency is a whole other story. If you do get into a bind, you don’t want to be stuck somewhere unfamiliar without food, water, appropriate clothing and an emergency kit, just in case.

And it doesn’t necessarily take an unexpected emergency to be glad you stocked up ahead of time: those extra snacks and drinks you grabbed at the gas station will come in handy when the inevitable snarl of traffic pops up seemingly out of nowhere.

6. Travelling over major holidays

Traffic at rush-hour over sunset in downtown Philadelphia sun lit street in the evening
Photo via Getty Images (SerrNovik via Getty Images)

Not everyone has the luxury to take off whenever they want, but if you’re able to avoid travelling over holiday weekends, you’ll save yourself a lot of time in traffic (not to mention, money on gas).

Scheduling your trip over less popular days will also potentially save you money on lodging and attractions. Hotels, museums and theme parks often offer lower rates for weekday visits, so keep an eye out for any mid-week deals to help keep costs down.

7. Driving too much in one day

Lovely little girl taking nap in her car seat while riding in car.
Photo via Getty Images (Images By Tang Ming Tung via Getty Images)

It may be tempting to speed through your road trip to get to your final destination. After all, being cooped up in a car for hours at a time isn’t always fun, especially for little ones and our four legged passengers. That being said, it’s never advisable to push yourself to get as far as possible in a single day. Not only will you feel exhausted and irritable, you might miss out on cities and towns that would make for a great rest stop.

8. Waiting too long to fill up on gas

Close-up car dash board petrol meter, fuel gauge, with over full gasoline in car. Clip. Gasoline sensor.
Photo via Getty Images (Media Whalestock via Getty Images)

Call it Road Trip 101: you never want to wait until you’re running on empty before making your way to a gas station, especially if you’re driving in a rural area. Nothing says #roadtripfail quite like having to hoof it for gas or call CAA for an emergency top up.

Then again, when you’re earning 4% cash back on eligible gas using your CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite and saving up to 10 cents per litre at participating stations CIBC and Journie Rewards, maybe you’ll no longer feel the same need to squeeze every last drop out of your tank…

Looking to save more at the pump year-round? Visit to apply for the CIBC Dividend Visa, then be sure to link your CIBC card to Journie Rewards to maximize your savings.

Conditions apply