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Road trips are amazing, there is no doubt about that.
The freedom to go where you want when you want, being able to get off the beaten path to find a hidden gem and the ability to go at your own pace. If you fancy stopping somewhere, DO IT!
I’ve had some great road trips with incredible people. But conversely I’ve also had some that made me wish I had stayed at home! Keep reading for my secrets to the best road trips.
Top 8 Tips for the Perfect Road Trip
1. Make sure your vehicle is up to scratch
Trust me on this one! There is nothing worse than being on a road trip and your car/ van breaks down. You’re somewhere unfamiliar, maybe quite remote and the car just won’t start. It’s bad enough when your car breaks down at home but on the road the feeling is ten times worse. It may be one of the worst feelings I’ve had.
If you’re going off road, make sure that your car has 4WD and you are confident and comfortable in how to use it.
Before you go, ensure that your tyres are in good condition, the oil and coolant are topped up and you have a spare tyre with the tools to change it if need be.
A lot of this will already have been done if you are choosing to hire a car in your destination. Hiring a car is another great option if you are away from home and only going on very short trips.
2. Choose a good companion
Roadtrips are always better with people. A shared experience is what makes it so special. But it’s important to make sure that the people you’re travelling with have a similar plan to you. A night owl travelling with an early bird won’t work without a lot of compromise. Likewise and avid planner won’t work well with someone who is spontaneous.
If you meet people in a hostel and want to travel with them, make sure you set out your likes and dislikes first. If you are part of a group then it is important that everyone is on the same page. Are you going for a hike for the third time today or would members of the group like to sit by the beach instead?
3. Let people know where you are
Safety should always be a priority when travelling. Almost everywhere has mobile phone signal these days but to really get off the beaten path you may have to get out of range. Tell someone trusted a rough idea of where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
4. Be spontaneous
I suggest having a light plan and nothing else. Know the direction you’re heading in and some ideas of activities you want to try out. If you want to be brave and not have any accommodation booked for the night then even better! You may find a hidden gem and spend all afternoon there, after which a 4 hour drive to your pre booked hotel won’t seem as inviting. It will allow you stop where you want to. That little cafe overlooking the lake? The local vineyard with a friendly looking shop? Swing by and say hello. Which leads me onto…
5. Talk to the locals
Locals are the best source of knowledge for where you are travelling to. They live there! If you are in a touristy area they are likely to have done a lot of the things you will be looking to do and may even provide discounts for you. They also know the places where tourists don’t go so you can hunt out those hidden gems. Most locals are supremely proud of where they live and will be willing to help out and advise in any way they can.
In a petrol station, ask where the best coffee in town in. Once in the coffee shop, see if they have any recommendations for where to stay or the best activities in town. I have even been told about a secret beach whilst in a clothes shop. Open up to locals and they will open up to you.
6. Get good equipment
If you don’t go on road trips often I’m not suggested you go and spend thousands of £’s/$’s on the best equipment. But swimming in a lake is one of the worst times to realise that your cheap camera isn’t quite as waterproof as it said it was. Or your tent isn’t as waterproof as you think. I love using my GoPro for roadtrips as it’s robust and waterproof and I enjoy my 1 man tent that fits easily in any size car.
7. Get out of your comfort zone
This may seem obvious if you are already doing a roadtrip to somewhere that is unfamiliar, but why let it stop there. It may seem as simple as not going to a Starbucks but heading to a small locally owned coffee shop instead. If you normally stay in nice hotels try camping for a night or two. Try foods you wouldn’t normally find at home and converse with local as much as you can.
If you’re feeling especially brave, do something that genuinely scares you. Afraid of heights, try bungy jumping. Don’t like snakes, head to a reptile park and see if you can hold one around your neck. Don’t go to Starbucks…
8. Get some good music
Getting a great playlist will make good road trip an amazing adventure. If you’re stuck in your car for hours on end, having songs to sing along to adds to the camaraderie in the car. Try and get some music for the place you are visiting. On route 66? Get some blues or jazz. Heading into the Australian outback, some country might be a better bet. Heading along the coastline? Nothing beats some summer tunes.
Going on a road trip is one of the best things about travel. The freedom to go where you want to when you want to is like no other freedom you’ll have.
Road trips take a bit of planning but with these tips, hopefully you’ll be more prepared for your next trip in the car.
Where’s the best road trip you’ve ever done?
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.