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A Project Manager's Guide to a Stress Free Road Trip

A road trip is a Project Manager’s dream vacation because they get to apply their skills in the real world and watch them unfold. There are so many variables on a road trip for a project manager to master, it’s like a fun game and a great vacation at one! In order to tackle your next road trip like a project manager would, take the following steps into consideration.

Set the Goal

Every road-tripping project manager knows it's the arrival time, not the departure time that is important. You start at the hotel check-in time and work backward to determine when you need to start your trip to ensure you aren't wasting precious vacation time in limbo while your room gets readied for your stay.  

A true PM will have scope creep prevention measures in place to ensure all road trip stops are as efficient as possible. Only when they've figured out the arrival time, mapped the trip, and planned all stops, can a project manager rest in knowing the goal is fully attainable.

Manage Deliverables

Resource allocation is one of the top challenges for project managers, but something they strive to master each time. On a road trip, a good PM would take inventory of all packing needs and divide it by who is best suited to maintain responsibility for those items. A Project Manager would divide a four-person car this way:

  • Project Manager - Responsible for the overall project's success by managing time, budget, scope, and resources

  • Entertainment Manager - your musically inclined friend would be responsible for music playlists, DVD entertainment, any audio/video equipment needs during the trip, and systems administration

  • Food Director - The best cook in the group can manage all food and drink for the road and the destination, any cooking/eating utensil needs, and plan all meals and restaurant outings

  • Packing Efficiency Coordinator- The most organized person in the group will be responsible for making sure there aren't four blow dryers but zero bottles of sunscreen

A Project Manager's Plan for Change

Traffic patterns are everything on a road trip. One serious traffic interruption could cause an unplanned overnight stay, which affects the budget and delays the arrival goal. Certainly, not all traffic can be planned for and the most serious occurrences are true surprises, so a project manager would also be ready for these changes and able to adjust accordingly.

Alternate routes, emergency hotel plans, and the ability to delay your reservation in case of these unplanned events are something only a project manager would bring to a road trip, but we could all take a little knowledge from them.

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