I am an avid fan of road trips. I profess that I have committed to almost as many road trips in my future as I have already eaten hot dinners in my past! Moreover, I’ve already journeyed upon hundreds of road trips, both short and long, over the five years since I first learnt to drive.
In my opinion, that makes me something of a self-taught expert on ‘all things road-trip’. I therefore hope the following pearls of wisdom help you out!
Road tripping can be a fantastically cheap option for travelling; however, there are a number of costs people just forget about that end up draining the bank account.
That’s why you need to draw up a budget; don’t worry though, it can just be a basic one. Work out what you can afford to expend and then list the costs of your trip. This will likely include petrol, tolls, accommodation, food, and other essential costs. It may also include non-essential costs, like entry fees for things you want to see.
Make sure your budget caters for the necessities first and then the luxuries if they are still possible. You don’t want to find that you are too short on money to afford the petrol to get back home!
- Work out where you are sleeping
You need somewhere to sleep out on the road. Where that is will depend heavily upon your priorities.
A quick cost benefit of analysis of your accommodation options will be necessary to construct your budget and properly plan your trip. I personally like to sleep in my car, or alternatively to wild camp. These options won’t cost you a penny, although they’re arguably less comfortable than a motel or Airbnb. If you are wishing to do either though, make sure you’re comfortable with the safety of your surrounding area and the laws of the land. Wild camping isn’t legal everywhere, and nor is sleeping in your car, so be aware of the rules.
If you want any ideas on cheap travel accommodation options, then check out my article here!
- Food for Thought
I think with my stomach more than my head or my heart. That’s why I like to do a bit of planning when it comes to what I’m going to be eating.
Alongside accommodation and petrol, food is likely to constitute your biggest outlay spending wise. Getting your eating habits right can save you a lot of money.
Make your own food, dine where locals eat, and avoid petrol station sandwiches. All good ideas, but if you want a little more advice on how to eat well for less when you travel, check out my post on the topic here!
- Learn the rules of the road
This one can be ‘life or death’, and I’m not kidding around about that.
Ending up on the wrong side of the road, which is particularly easy when the entire world drives across from us English folk, can make for a dangerous journey.
Knowing the rules of the road is actually a little more complicated than just knowing which side to be on though. Being aware that cops carry guns in America and that, until asked, you shouldn’t get out of your vehicle are facts unfamiliar to many amongst the British. Moreover, if you were to travel to France, it is a legal requirement that you carry in your car the following; warning triangles, high-vis jackets, a government certified breathalyzer kit, and an alcohol detection kit.
Although it is arguable whether most of the aforementioned rules are crucial to the effective running of the roads, or whether they are legacies of mind-numbing bureaucracy, you need to know all about them anyway. Do your research to stay safe!
- Choose your companion wisely
Not everyone makes for a good travel partner. In fact, great travel companions are few and far between. How many people would you want to spend a week trapped in a metal box with?
It’s a question I fortunately don’t have to ask that often. Having had several incredibly boring road trips, one with a particularly sleepy and verbally un-exciting ex-girlfriend, I now know my best friend Andrew to be my perfect road-trip companion. A best friend, with whom you spend much of your time, or perhaps your partner, will likely make for good companions.
If, however, you can’t stick spending time with them, perhaps consider being a lone wolf for your next trip! You’ll find yourself with a distinct freedom that, if you take the necessary safety precautions, you will no doubt enjoy.
- Make yourself a cracking playlist
You’re going to spend a lot of time behind the wheel. If you’re doing a proper road trip, then there isn’t any way around that. It’s what you’ve signed up for to be honest!
With all that driving though, having a little background music to keep you going will undoubtedly be necessary. Don’t forget to download a few podcasts onto your phone as well. Hours and hours of fantastic audio content to peruse will keep your mind ticking over so that you don’t fall asleep behind the wheel. I know people whom this has happened to and anything to mitigate the risk is really important.
If, however, you do feel tired then park up and get a kip. There’s really no sense in trying to stave off the tiredness.
- Plan but don’t plan too much!
If you’re reading this, then it’s fairly safe to say you’re into planning out your trips. There is no shame in that. I am all for getting excited by your future plans and working out some particulars to get the most out of where you’re going!
Even so, there is something entirely novel, by nature of course, about stepping into the unknown. Make your trip as spontaneous as you feel you can. Stretch your comfort zone and get a little loose with your planning. I guarantee it’s more fun when you don’t place flesh beyond the bare bones of your trip.
I can’t recommend a good road trip enough. This article hopefully gave you a few ideas on how to plan for one. I’ll undoubtedly expand on this article in the future but, for now, ciao! Stay safe out there.