Road trips rock. There is no better way to see new places and meet new people. There’s something about getting out on the road – a sense of freedom that you don’t always get to experience in everyday life.
We’ve done a few road trips (some successfully and some less so!) and we’ve put together the top 10 tips for a successful road trip to help you get the most out of your travels:
10. Try to travel light. Over packing the car means a heavier car to steer and all those extra clothes will mean less space to stretch out. Not much fun. Particularly when leg room is at a premium. Trust us! One year we had four people, luggage, food for a week (we were camping) and camping gear, all in a small SUV. When we pulled in to a rest stop to get firewood, the guy chopping the wood actually called his mate over to take a photo of how packed the car was. They couldn’t stop laughing and we were so cramped, it was hard to find the gear stick. Not something we’d want to repeat as it was uncomfortable as hell, but looking back it was one of our funniest trips.
9. Find your travel companions along the way. Road trips are a great way of making new friends – and finding new destinations. Ask other travellers where they are heading, share routes and split rides. When in Egypt, a mother and daughter shared our felucca down the Nile and ended up sharing our car for the ride out to the pyramids. They gave us loads of ideas that helped to inform our trip, and enhanced our experience by doing so.
8. Build in flexibility in to your trip. Planning everything out is great for providing some certainty and structure to your trip – but travel is about adventure! Being creative with your travel plans means that when your new-found travel companions mention the beautiful beach they are heading to the next day, you’re free to change your plans and join them – yeay!
7. If you aren’t confident driving in another country (or on the other side of the road for that matter), you might want to consider joining a long distance group bus trip such as Green Tortoise. Maintaining the road trip vibe, this company ensures that you have none of the stress and all of the fun by doing the driving for you.
6. Explore everything! Look out for places to pull over and spot things en route. Travelling down the Big Sur, we pulled in multiple times to admire the view and managed to spot some sea lions on the beach. Without random pit stops, we’d have missed scenes like this.
5. Shortest route vs the fastest route – the Sat Nav told us the shortest route between Tahoe and Yosemite. We believed it. We quickly realised that the road had turned into a dirt track, meaning that our top speed was approx 5mph to avoid ripping the underside of the car to pieces. The other route suggested by the Sat Nav turned out to be a well maintained road. The shortest route was absolutely not the fastest.
4. Have enough time for the trip. It’s horrible to say but we have to be honest; google lies!!! When you put your destination into google maps, don’t believe it when it tells you that it’s a 4 hour drive. Add more time. Add even more time for gas stops, rest stops and food. Add a bit more time for good measure because, you know; traffic and google lies. Do all that and you might have a more accurate estimate of your journey time. So many times, our planned four hour trip has turned into a 6 hour plus journey. Which can result in sleeping in the car. I’m not sure how it happens. Except; I think google lies.
3. Maps vs Sat Nav – Don’t rely on the Sat Nav provided with the car. They tend to drop signal and are not very accurate. Instead, download maps to your phone and use them as your Sat Nav. Don’t forget to take a paper map too – you never know when your battery may run out and you don’t want to be stranded in the dark with no idea which direction to head in. This is especially true for places with limited road signs – here’s looking at you Yosemite!
2. Sort out that playlist – if you are anything like me, the music on a trip can make or break a journey. Develop a playlist for each place that you are planning to visit – create your own travel soundtrack. Download a range of playlists to your device and make sure you have a way of connecting it to the car. Bluetooth, USB – whatever works, make sure it’s sorted. There is nothing worse than travelling in silence. Wandering Beeb will still start a ‘remember when we..’ story based off what music I’m playing – it’s a great way of remembering your trip by linking the places you’ve visited to specific pieces of music.
1. Pick your travel companions wisely! Spending a long time together in the car or on a bus for vast stretches of road can take a toil on even the best of friendships. Long journeys in close proximity can bring out the best and worse in people – make sure your friendship can stand the test! Luckily, we’ve travelled with some brilliant people and always managed to stay friends by the end of the trip!!
What are your best road trip tips? Did we miss any?