It used to be that getting from point A to point B involved a long strip of road. Thanks to a new crop of budget airlines and soaring gas prices, hopping from place to place via airplane has made more sense economically than the once charming notion of hitting the open road. The downfall is that once hard-to-reach places have now become infested with coupon-toting travellers and Groupon deal finders bringing back a nostalgia for the unabashed freedom that comes from a good ol’ fashioned road trip. Here are some tips for making your next road trip unforgettable (in a good way!):
Tip #1 – Do your research
Driving through a country is not the same as landing in a tourist hub and hopping in a cab. You need to be able to navigate yourself and know what the rules of the road are. Rent a GPS but also pick up some old school hard copy maps as GPSs are not always reliable. Ask the car rental attendants for any tips on driving etiquette or important things to note. Most places are used to tourists and usually have a cheat sheet of things to expect when navigating local roads.
Tip #2 – Give yourself lots of time
Unlike many other vacations, the road trip isn’t about the destination but rather the journey. Take the scenic route and make unscheduled stops. Often the most memorable road trips involve unplanned off-roads or curious unmapped findings. Don’t be afraid to get lost, sometimes it leads to something you never even knew was there.
Tip #3 – Take breaks
Driving for 8 hours straight is no fun no matter how pretty the scenery and can actually be dangerous if you are tired and not as alert. Make sure to stop for meal breaks and to walk around and take in the sights. If possible, take turns driving, as there’s nothing better than losing yourself while gazing out the window as the scenery flies by.
Tip #4 – Take the back roads
If you live in a city then you know that driving in a city sucks. One-way streets, traffic, rush hour and aggressive drivers can quickly ruin your carefree mood. Avoid driving through city centres and stick to the outer limits. If part of your trip is visiting the city, park just outside and commute in using public transit. You’ll save the stress and expense of parking and will get more of a local experience in doing so.
Tip #5 – Bring something to entertain yourself
No matter how long you are travelling for or how scenic the route, there are going to be lulls where you get bored of looking at the snow-peaked mountains or vast open landscape. Create a really great soundtrack of different kinds of music and when you’re able, listen to the local radio stations as it will give you more insight into where you are. Bring snacks and small board games or cards for nights when there might not be anything else to do.
Bonus Tip – Have fun!
Road trips are the oldest form of travel and yet still remain popular to this day. There is something so magical about getting into a car and deciding your destination. Enjoy yourself and make the most of the carefree experience.
Popular road trip destinations:
- The Pacific Coast Highway
- Route 66
- US Route 1
- The Great River Road
- BC to Banff
- Basque circuit through France and Spain
- Pas de Calais, France
- The Grand Tour through Switzerland, France and Italy
- Bergen to Oslo, Norway
- Alpine Road, Germany
- New Zealand coastal route
- Pacific coast touring route, Australia
- Nature’s way from Darwin to the red centre
Movies about road trips:
On the Road – in theatres in 2012
A Buddy Story – in theatres May 15th
Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Thelma and Louise (1991)