There’s no question about it; road trips are awesome.
A successful road trip will stay with you for life. The ability to just get up and go and the absolute thrill of uncertainty; where will you sleep? Where will you eat? When will you get to your next stop?
It’s up to you to choose where to go when to go, and what kind of budget you’ll have.
These travel tips below cover all kinds of road trips, in all kinds of countries – refer to this before your next road trip.
1. Google Maps
A great place to start. Enter your start and final destination, and get an idea of timing. Adjust the route and see where you can go and how long it’ll take you (you can also see if you’re just a few hours shy of somewhere you might not have originally thought of, but would love to visit). Make sure you’ve got your basic route worked out, your A to B, but don’t have every single mile written in stone. You’ve got to have room for the unexpected turns, the snap decisions and the ‘I wonder what’s down here?’ moments.
2. What car?
What kind of car you need depends on your destination, trip type and how many people you will be. Think about how likely you are to need 4-wheel drive, high clearance or a convertible, and book accordingly.
If your trip is going to be a long one, a couple of months or more, you might want to think about buying a used car and selling it on when you’re done.
Few things go together as well as music and the open road. There’s going to be plenty of time fortunes, so make sure you’ve downloaded some playlists to your smartphone (and don’t forget the USB cable). That said, it’s wise to check out local radio as well to hear the kind of music you probably wouldn’t listen to back home, probably won’t think you’ll like, but probably come to love.
4. Eat local and stay local
Give the local grub a go – even if you have no idea what it is. After all, it might be the only chance you get. The same goes for accommodation: it might be tempting to stay at the shiny new resort, but why not stay at the unique B&B/kitsch motel/mom and pop place down the road?
5. Cool bag
Who knows when you’ll next be able to grab a bite to eat? Pack a cool bag/small cooler – or splash out on an electric car cool box – and store drinks and snacks in case you get hungry (or in case you get a little lost …).
6. Camp (even in your car)
Depending on your budget – and on your wheels – you might consider camping instead of hotels or motels. It’s cheap, easy and a great way to meet people. If you’ve got a large car or van, you can even sleep in your vehicle at some campsites, RV campsites, and in some petrol stations and Walmart stores.
7. Travel Mate
Road trips can make or break a friendship.
Make sure you find the right travel mate to match your temperament, can do something well that you can’t do at all (e.g. read maps, speak a local language), and one who can handle you when you’re at your best – and worst.
8. Book ahead
Certain attractions, e.g. Alcatraz, Chateau de Versailles, sell out months in advance. Try to find the main sights you want to see and work your trip around these. The same applies to some hotels in popular spots.
9. Rules of the road
Make sure you’re down with the rules of the road for the country you’re visiting.
If you’re traveling to a country in Asia, be sure to check for driving advice for tourists on that country’s government or official tourism site.
10. Stay safe!
Go down those small roads, get out of your comfort zone and explore – but be sensible. Listen to advice, always let someone know where you are and where you’re going – and don’t be a hero.