The great American road trip is a classic vacation experience for the whole family. You not only have the freedom of the open road, but you can also plan out your trip to hit all the best hidden gems across the U.S. Whether you're creating memories with the kids or heading out on your own, check out these tips for how to plan a road trip.

1. Get a tune-up

The last thing you want is a breakdown on the road. About a week before your trip, schedule a tune-up for your car and have your mechanic check out all the vital systems, including the fluid levels, brakes, and tires. Be sure you have appropriate emergency tools with you as well, such as jumper cables, a jack, flares, and windshield washer fluid.

2. Anticipate high-traffic areas

When you're traveling through a bunch of different areas, you're likely to run into busy traffic areas that can be unbearable in rush-hour conditions. If you know you'll be traveling through busy areas, try to schedule your driving to hit those areas at off-peak times, such as mid-morning or late evening during the week, to avoid the crowded roads.

3. Have flexible plans

Delays and reroutes are inevitable on a road trip, especially if you're traveling long distances. You may come across road closures, highway traffic, attractions that are closed, and other obstacles. Instead of sticking to an hour-by-hour itinerary, create a flexible travel plan that includes options for dining, lodging, rest areas, and attractions you really want to see, as well as backup plans if something goes wrong.

4. Plan on-the-go entertainment

Whether you like car games, music, audiobooks, or podcasts, you'll be thankful you planned your road entertainment in advance. Local radio stations aren't always reliable, so be sure to download any apps or playlists you know you'll like and bring a reliable cell phone charger. If you're renting a vehicle, make sure it has compatible technology for your mobile entertainment.

5. Subscribe to roadside assistance

Roadside assistance is a blessing on a road trip, particularly in unfamiliar areas. If you find yourself stranded due to car trouble and you don't know where you are or what's nearby, having a subscription to roadside assistance ensures that you can get out of the jam as quickly as possible. You can even join a roadside assistance club that connects you to reliable local towing and auto service.

6. Delegate important tasks

If you're traveling with a group of friends or just your partner, it's important to be aware of what everyone does well. Delegate tasks in advance, like giving certain people the role of navigator or co-pilot, the snack packer, and the entertainment planner, so that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

7. Take the backroads

Highways will get you where you're going quickly, but that's not the idea behind a road trip. If you want to see the scenery and stumble upon some hidden wonders, it's good to plan a few backroads and scenic routes on the trip. Take detours, pay attention to signs advertising cool side adventures, and let yourself explore a little. Just make sure you have your map.

8. Gather your documents

When you're on the road, it's vital to have all your documentation in order if you're stopped. Make sure you have current insurance cards, your driver's license, your vehicle registration, and any other documentation you need. Also, make sure that all other drivers in the vehicle have their own licenses, just in case they need to drive, and take care of any old traffic tickets or parking tickets on your record.

9. Invest in GPS

GPS can be expensive, but it's worth its weight in gold on a road trip. If you plan on taking a long road trip, a GPS device is a smart investment and a convenient option to have with you. Mobile apps aren't always reliable, and road maps don't include up-to-the-minute traffic and detour information, but a GPS will help you navigate effectively and avoid any unnecessary hang-ups.

10. Clean your car before and during the trip

Even with the best of intentions, it's inevitable that your car will end up filled with to-go containers and cups, road maps, snack bags, and other trash. It's best to start with a clean slate and clean out your car in advance. You should also take time at rest areas to clean out all the trash a little at a time. You'll be thankful when you return with a mostly clean vehicle.