Are you looking to go away on a road trip? While some prefer to plan their trip down to the last detail and others prefer to be spontaneous, there are few things everyone should consider before going on a road trip. You’ll find them below!
No matter where you’re going, but particularly if you’re going on a spontaneous trip where you don’t know where you’ll end up, you’ll want to bring snacks. Even on a planned trip you might get lost (after all, your GPS signal might not work everywhere!), or - heaven forbid - have your car break down. You might simply end up in traffic as well and need a snack before you get to the next planned shop.
Pack a couple of big and small bottles of water (you might need them for the radiator, too), biscuits, granola bars, protein bars, and whatever else you enjoy snacking on. Remember that while candy is a nice treat, you also need some more substantial snacks.
Look into Games for the Road
Driving can get boring after a while. Have a look at different games you can play with your passengers as you drive. This is especially good if you bring kids along. From classics to “I spy with my little eye, something…” to more intricate games, there’s something for all ages (you’ll find some great ones here).
Use an App That Alerts You to Traffic
If you are going through a couple of big towns on your road trip, use an app like Waze that alerts you to traffic - and how to get around it.
Book Places to Stay in Advance
While AirBnB will allow you to find a room in most towns at short notice, if you want to get a great room at a great price, it pays to book in advance. And if you have special requirements, like staying in an area that isn’t noisy, or having a window with a view, then it certainly helps to book in advance!
Look Out for Local Events
Maybe you want to go to a place where a festival is held, maybe you want to avoid it at all cost. For example, showing up in Edinburgh in August when the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is on means that pretty much every room has been rented out and costs a fortune at that. So if theater isn’t your thing, there’s no reason to go to Edinburgh in August.
Festivals you enjoy, on the other hand, are a great excuse for a road trip! Have a look at what festivals there are in places that you consider going on a road trip to.
Before you go, get clear on what it is you want to experience. Are you longing for the quiet countryside, or a bustling metropolis?
Also, consider the route to get there - if you want to drive through scenic landscapes, you have to plan your trip accordingly.
Towns are generally known for different things. Some offer a great museum, some brilliant restaurants. Plan your trip in accordance with what you wish to experience along the road.
Decide on What to Play
If you love good music, prepare a playlist upfront for the trip! You might actually want a few different playlists to choose from as your mood will change during your trip!
Make time for Stops
Whether you believe in taking breaks or not while driving, breaks will freshen your mind, allow you to stretch your legs, and remind you to drink enough water! All which are needed while driving. It will also allow time for a snack and simply some moments to take in the beauty of where you’re at.
If you travel with kids, it will give them an opportunity to run around and play. Remember that kids need to use up some energy if you are to keep them happy on the road!
Google places to stop along the way before you go. That way, in addition to impromptu toilet breaks, you’ll have some sights you know you will see. Stops can also include museums, special restaurants, playgrounds for the kids, and various other attractions. In other words, they can be as important as the end destination!
Consider Road Conditions, Weather and Your Vehicle
Before you decide where to go, consider if your vehicle can handle the trip? The last thing you want is for your car to break down in the middle of nowhere. If it’s the rainy season, or there is a chance for snow, check if there are some roads that are likely to close. Also, consider what tires you’ll need for the roads you’ll be traveling on.
Consider a Themed Trip
If you are really into motorbikes, you might be able to plan a trip where you visit bike shops, bike museums, and art galleries that cater to bikers. In a similar manner, you can plan a trip around visiting bookshops and literary landmarks, museums, artists and art galleries, restaurants, and so forth.
Discuss the Trip with Fellow Passengers
If you are doing the road trip with one or more people, ask them for their preferences? It could be that one passenger is prone to car sickness and needs to sit in the front. Another gets a headache from RnB music. Yet another can only be able to handle four hours on the road per day before they start getting grumpy as they need to move about.
Going on a trip with someone is different from hanging out with them on the weekend. Going on a trip forces you into closer quarters and people might have habits that annoy you.
Therefore, try to check in beforehand to see what people’s wishes are - even if you’re the one ultimately planning the trip.
Also, if you are planning to surprise someone with a road trip, consider what would be important to them?
Firstly, do they like surprises? If they get nervous from sudden changes, then chances are you’re better off giving them the itinerary a week or two before going on the trip. That way, they have the time they need to prepare.
Secondly, what’s important to them when traveling? What will they want to experience during the trip? What comforts do they need when traveling? What will make the trip memorable to them?
Get a Car Air Freshener
Driving for long stretches of time can make your car stink - especially if you eat in the car. You may also drive through areas that smell of fertilizer or exhaust fumes. If you don’t want a car freshener on at all times, get one you can turn on and off, so that when you hit that fertilizer field - it gets turned on.
Things to Bring
First of all, consider what you’ll need for the car - a spare tire, your insurance documents and any other documents relating to the car (as well as, of course, your driver’s license and ID), USB mobile phone charger, brake fluid, anti-freeze, wiper fluid, jumper cables, etc.
Also remember the above-mentioned car air freshener. You will also want to bring a Swiss army knife and some toilet paper, disinfectant, and wet wipes. You never know when they’ll come in handy!
Secondly, get a good first aid kit. You’re better safe than sorry. A thermal blanket (a.k.a. rescue blanket) and some instant ice packs are great additions. Also, some ibuprofen and other over the counter pain meds might be a good idea. Of course, pills for diarrhea are a must. And if you’re on any kind of medication, then bring that along. Thirdly, consider what clothing you’ll need. Sometimes driving just a short distance will take you into a different climate zone.
Lastly, remember your toothbrush, toothpaste, and towel!
Things to Check
Before you hit the road, have your mechanic inspect the car, or at the very least, check tire pressure, oil, and water. But if you can - do call your mechanic for a quick check-up!
If you know you have a specific budget, do plan ahead. You don’t want to end up spending more than planned on petrol, food, and accommodation. You can easily use Google Maps to figure out how long your planned route is and therefore how much petrol is needed. And while credit cards are great, always carry some cash, just in case. If you aren’t on a contract - remember to top-up your mobile phone (and, oh, that charger of yours - bring it!).
Download the Maps You Need
There is not always mobile phone reception where you are going. Therefore, whatever app you use to navigate, be sure to download the maps before you leave (and of course, ensure the app you prefer enables you to do this, otherwise, get another app!). You might also want to bring a good old map with you, just in case!
Depending on where you are based, there are different apps that might be useful. For example, Flush alerts you to the nearest public restrooms in America! iExit, on the other hand, alerts you to amenities close to road exits.
While you might prefer a spontaneous trip with no particular destination in mind, you still need to pack your bags, prepare the car, download the right apps, bring the essentials, prepare a playlist, and come up with some great games to play while driving. So create your checklist and get packing!