Going on a cross-country trip can be the experience of a lifetime. The sights, the sounds, and oh my goodness, the food – it can be a life-changing and immersive experience. But in order to make a cross-country trip safe and successful, you’ll have to do a lot of planning – and saving. Here are four tips you’ll want to remember for making your cross-country trip an event to remember – for the right reasons.

Take a Buddy

Generally speaking, even if you’re a veteran traveler, you shouldn’t go cross-country by yourself. The glory of the open road doesn’t come without hazard, and the buddy system isn’t just for grade schoolers. Taking someone with you can reduce the cost of the trip, since they can split gas and food with you, it can reduce the risk of not being able to access medical help if you get hurt, and – this must be mentioned – it can reduce your risk of attack or abduction while you’re traveling.

If you can’t take a buddy, make sure to take a smartphone, and make regular check-ins using Facebook, email, or Kitestring to assure your friends and family of your safety. Along the way, stay with friends or family, with a vouched-for Couchsurfer, or join up with a camping group.

Sign Up for AAA

If your car stalls, needs a jump or a tow, or just plain runs out of gas, you’ll need AAA. The annual fee isn’t tremendously high, and that one small amount will cover a variety of services and assistance you might need while traveling footloose and fancy free all over the country. Before you leave, call them and make sure your membership is up to date, and inform them of where you’re going and, if you have one already, of what your itinerary might look like. AAA sometimes also issues coupon books that you can use on your trip to reduce the cost – make sure to ask them if they have one, and for a list of places you can get a discount for goods, food, or services by showing your AAA card.

Get Collision Insurance

There’s no getting around this one. Paying for collision insurance – even if it’s just for a month or two – will reduce your cost of getting into an accident by a pretty large amount. It will not only cover the costs of getting your car fixed if you get into an accident, it will usually also cover all or most of the other driver’s – if you were at fault – and can reduce the amount your insurance will go up the following year. Professionals, like those at Ladah, know that car accidents are all too common, and the likelihood of getting into one rises the more you drive. Talk with your current insurance provider about a collision plan before you take to the open road.

Leave an Itinerary

Break out a map and mark off the places you plan to drive through and to. If possible, estimate the amount of time it will take you to get from one point to another. Make a list of your intended destinations and an estimated date of arrival for each, and leave a copy of your itinerary with family and friends. If you are staying with friends of relatives during your trip, make sure they get a copy, too – so they know when to expect you, and when to contact authorities if they think you may be in trouble.

While there are many other words of wisdom out there to ponder before your cross-country tip, these four tips can make your road trip safer and more enjoyable, and will offer greater peace of mind while you’re chasing the horizon.