How to Have the Perfect Road Trip, According to an Expert


Is there anything better than a road trip? Imagine it: you and your crew cruising down the highway, your favorite song on the radio, sun on your face, and the feeling that something somewhere is waiting for you? It's the best feeling in the world. And Monique Harrison, the director of brand experience marketing at Mercedes-Benz, agrees.

And now, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, road trips are as important as ever. "With typical travel plans coming to a halt due to the pandemic, we saw a heavy gravitation towards road trips as a safer travel alternative," Harrison told Travel + Leisure. It's true, travel is complicated right now, but buckling up and hitting the highway has given folks the opportunity to explore their own backyards more. "It is nice to see people exploring destinations they previously did not make time for and experiencing the wonders of their own home states," Harrison said, adding, "Travelers have been able to uncover the beauty and joy that exists 'just a drive away,' which is a trend I hope will be here to stay."

If you're heading out on your own road trip soon, be it to the mountains in an SUV or top down to the beach, Harrison has some handy road trips to make your next adventure in the car as fun and safe as possible. 

Travel + Leisure: What makes a good road trip?

"Road trips take a lot of planning and coordination with careful consideration for the driver and passengers' interests and preferences so they can enjoy their journey. For me, my top recommendations for planning a road trip are:

1. Choose the right vehicle for the journey. A comfortable and spacious SUV or wagon is best for longer trips with multiple passengers. Our new 2021 GLS SUV, a 7 seater, is well equipped to handle various terrain and conditions. A sporty coupe or convertible is better for routes where a couple or two friends are looking to take in the scenery and have a little fun on the road. The 2021 E-Class Coupe or Convertible still allows room for four passengers while providing enhanced levels of comfort, luxury, and safety for the journey. 

2. Make sure to have a reliable and fun copilot to enjoy the journey with. Although nothing beats driving a Mercedes-Benz yourself, I sometimes quickly hand over the keys to my husband on road trips. It can be good to hit the road in the passenger seat to catch the scenery and enjoy the ride from a different perspective. 

3. When road tripping, it is important to have a stockpile of playlists, podcasts, and audiobooks to help pass the time. This can help fill any lulls in conversation!

4. A list of pre-planned stops to check out local sights. This breaks up the trip and gives you things to look forward to along the way. It could be anything from a local shop, restaurant, or scenic overlook. Personally, I love stopping in local home decor boutiques! A good 'shop small' store always refuels me a bit.

5. Don't forget to utilize your car's charging pad for your phone! You never want to be without your phone's camera to capture any surprise attractions."

What should people know about their vehicle before taking a road trip?

"Before you set out on your trip, it's important to evaluate your car to ensure it is dependable, comfortable, and safe. Drivers should be familiar with the model's navigation system, safety features, and, of course, its entertainment and comfort capabilities. My favorite Mercedes-Benz feature to utilize on a long trip is our ENERGIZING Comfort massage function."

What do you think is the best Mercedes for a road trip?

"There are so many great options, but my favorite vehicle right now is the highly anticipated 2021 S-Class. The S-Class exemplifies the allure of Mercedes-Benz, combined with the legendary and traditional engineering expertise that defines the luxury segment in the automobile industry. I'd chose the S 63 Coupe which is cozy for two, has plenty of storage, and allows you to whip through the streets with speed, having fun at every turn."

What tips do you have for making a road trip more fun?

"When I am traveling across states, I love to explore unique stops along the way, which often means historical sites or unique small businesses. I prepare these fun stops in advance to add interest along the way. It's fun to embrace their distinctive attributes that you don't always find on the franchise-lined highways. Lastly, I'm always looking for the town's go-to restaurant, from fine dining to homemade ice cream!

For those traveling with kids, I like nostalgic games like 'I Spy' or the license plate game. If you are not the driver and have devices available, I enjoy playing the Scrabble app as a family — even the "made up" words provide amusement! The competitiveness provides good family fun."

Knowing you're based in Atlanta, do you have any must-see spots in Georgia for a road trip?

"As Georgians, we are so lucky to have many outdoor and socially distant friendly sites and attractions to visit. For those looking to be active, Sweetwater Creek Park is a scenic hike and may look familiar as it served as the backdrop of the Hunger Games trilogy. My top sightseeing recommendations are the Beltline, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and Amicalola Falls — all are rich in culture and history and make great day trips."

Tanner Saunders is the Experiences Editor at Travel + Leisure. He loves a good road trip.

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