Have you ever dreamt of driving down Route 66 with the windows down and the music pumping from your car speakers? Road trips are a statement for freedom and getting lost, only to discover beauty in hidden corners of the world, which are otherwise not accessible. You probably have fond memories of driving with your parents for the summer holidays, playing games to make the journey more bearable or memories of getting your first car to go on your first big road trip for a weekend getaway with friends.
Nowadays, there is a large movement called Vanlife. People transforming old campervans or school buses, so they can live independently on the road. This type of trip might not be suited for everyone but there is something very rewarding about waking up in a different location every morning in your house on wheels.
Regardless of the means of transportation you pick, there are general guidelines to follow when planning a road trip. Here are a few tips to make your next adventure even more memorable.
Plan a rough itinerary
Without necessarily knowing exactly where you will stop and when, it’s a good idea to get a general sense of your final destination and end date. The time available for the trip will greatly influence the route you choose. Be aware of weather conditions if you plan to travel in winter for instance. If you are not equipped for that type of weather, you might want to avoid mountainous regions that can still have snowy roads. While it might be hard to visit every single sight, or take part in all the activities offered on the way, try to pick a few that are non-negotiable and try to navigate an itinerary around them.
Go Old School And Get a Paper Map
The majority of people will either use Google Maps or Maps.me (for offline access to maps) on their mobile devices or use a GPS navigation system. However, what happens when the phone runs out of battery or your beloved GPS runs into a no connection zone? This is when you will be happy to have your foldable map. For a little twist on your adventure, get a road atlas which can be very practical when wanting to go off-the-beaten-path. You can contact your Automobile Association (like CAA in Canada) for personalized road trip itineraries and route maps. On that note, it’s advisable to get a membership in case you ever need roadside assistance. To stay on the safe side, don’t forget to get a travel insurance if you decide to travel outside your home province or even abroad.
Get a Complete Car Tune Up
Before you hit the road, if you plan to use your own vehicle, make sure to visit your mechanic to have a full check up on your car. Once there, you can ask for a quick training to get the basic know-how of your car. Learn which fluids to stock up on and how to check/refill them, how to replace a tire or windshield wiper, which actions to take when a light appears on the dashboard, how to check tire pressure, etc. This new knowledge will be invaluable on the road!
Decide On Your Sleeping Arrangement
There are so many options available when travelling by car. If you’re mostly into plush and fancy, this might require a bit more research as not all roadside accommodation options will be 5-star worthy. From cozy Bed and Breakfasts or shady motels to naturesque camping spots, the choice is yours! Better yet, why not opt for the comfort of your own vehicle? Of course, if you are rolling in your own campervan, no worries at all! Keep in mind that your only challenge will be to find a quiet place where you are allowed to spend the night. Just imagine getting woken in the middle of the night by an officer ready to send you back on the road. Since showers will become a luxury, consider getting a gym membership with multiple locations where you can use their facilities to freshen up. Another option would be to use rest areas with public showers.
Pack Up the Essentials
As with any trip, the less you pack the better! You might be tempted to stuff your car to the roof, but just remember to keep it light. There are items that you should absolutely pack:
• First aid kit for minor injuries
• Basic tools like jumping cables (if you don’t have them already)
• Camping materials (if you don’t plan to stay in hotels and want to cook by yourself)
• Enough water and snacks for the whole trip
• Rope (in case your car gets stuck or to use as a clothing line)
If you have a smartphone, there are many interesting apps that you can get like Roadtrippers, Hidden Place, GasBuddy and many more.
Last but not least, a road trip is not complete without the perfect playlist: Pick your favorite songs to set the right mood, roll your windows down and unleash your inner Sheryl Crow while singing “Everyday Is a Winding Road”.