How To - Plan A Road Trip
The key to a memorable and enjoyable road trip is planning well and covering your bases before the ride. Whether you're escaping for a long weekend or planning a bigger trip, there are some simple things you should check off before hitting the road, which will make life easier, less stressful and most importantly, safer. Make the most of your getaway by following our top twelve tips for planning a classic road trip:
Plan Your Route
Spontaneity is fun, but have a general route planned to avoid boring detours or a hasty decision made in panic. Identify service stations where you can fuel up so you don't run out of juice halfway through a barren stretch of road - no one wants to be the guy or girl on the side of the road pleading for assistance. It's also good to have an idea of the places you'll stop at for a rest to break up the drive, to stock up on food, water and other necessities, or to stay overnight. Google maps and GPS navigation systems can do all the work for you here, or go offline and use a paper map.
Pick The Right Mate
Let's face it straight up: your road trip is going to suck if you spend most of your time arguing or in uncomfortable silence. If you're travelling with others, make sure you all know each other well, complement each other's skills (anyone know how to make a camp fire?) and have similar interests so you don't get stuck at that quaint little thrift shop when you'd rather be exploring backcountry trails.
Book Accommodation & Activities In Advance
Whether you're staying at campsites or motels, book accommodation in advance. It's the best way to avoid any disappointment or unnecessary stress. Likewise, if there is an activity that you want to do while in a particular region, such as snorkelling or a guided tour, book it so you don't miss out.
Organise Your Itinerary
This may sound boring, but an organised itinerary is a great way to fit everything in. Knowing when you'll be in a particular area, how long each travel stage is expected to take between destinations, and how much time you want to dedicate to rest stops will help you plan your route and make the most of your time on the road.
Having the right gear for your trip and being organised will go a long way to ensuring a fun and safe journey. (Image courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
Write A Packing List
When packing for a road trip it's important to only bring what you need to avoid an uncomfortably 'cosy' ride. Essential supplies include food, water, plus clothes and shoes to suit your road trip activities and weather conditions. If you're camping, be sure to bring all the essential camping equipment that you'll need - tent, sleeping bags, toiletries, cooking equipment etc. For a little bit of camping luxury, pack a two-person hammock for afternoon siestas. And don't forget the camera!
Get The Car Serviced
This seems obvious but it's amazing how often it gets forgotten before a big road trip. When planning a road trip, it is absolutely critical to ensure your car has been serviced and everything is up-to-date, including basics such as air in the tyres, oil and water. It's also worth giving the inside a clean, so you're not stacked up on fast food packaging and dog fur before you even hit the road. Travel worry-free while on the road with the peace of mind that your car is fit for the challenge.
Know The Rules
If you're on hitting the road interstate or abroad, make sure you've done your homework on the local road laws. This ensures everyone safety and minimises the chances of you returning home with a massive, unwelcome fine.
Driving tired is stressful and unsafe for both yourself and your passengers. Get a good night's sleep before you take off on your road trip (ideally a couple of nights in a row), and factor in some regular rest stops along the way, approximately every two hours, to stretch the legs.
Enjoying your own coffee brew in a peaceful, secluded location is one of life’s simple pleasures on a road trip.
Stopping every now and then at a service station or roadhouse for a fast food option is fine (especially if it incorporates a rest stop), but if you want to avoid the inevitable queues and high prices, prepare some snacks for the car. Vitamin-rich, healthy foods will give you plenty of energy to stay alert, and allow you to regularly snack rather than having to load up in one sitting. Fruit and vegetables, nuts, and muesli bars are some good choices. Same goes for coffee and tea. You might want to stop at a secluded coffee shop somewhere but it's also nice to have your own brew. Bring along a portable coffee maker and find a picturesque setting to unwind.
Have The Tunes Ready
Gone are the old school days of needing to make a mix tape, thanks to digital music services like Spotify and Apple Music. So start streaming and let the good times roll. But if you are going to be out of range, make sure you have your playlists backed up so you can keep the party going while off the grid.
Games & Entertainment
A long drive with some bored or agitated kids (or adults that act like kids for that matter...) is not much fun. These days you can opt for iPads and other mobile devices to stream movies and TV shows. Or you can go throw-back with ways to fill time - think books, puzzles or even road trip games like I Spy, 6 Degrees of Separation or The Licence Plate Game.
Pack Some Peppermint
Some studies have shown that inhaling the peppermint scent reduces fatigue and increases alertness. In addition, chewing can help boost your concentration. So pack some chewing gum and energising scents, or combine the two and pack some peppermint chewing gum!
If the freedom of the open road (left) has lost some of its appeal, a book or some puzzles will at least keep your passengers entertained (right). (Image, left, courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
All images supplied by Harrison Candlin