It’s heading towards that time of year where you’re getting ready for your road trip and looking forward to hitting the open road. Yet preparation can be exhausting and knowing how to plan the perfect road trip will make all the difference. To help you through the ordeal, follow these simple yet practical road trip tips to allow you to hit the open road ready for the adventure that awaits you.
How to plan the perfect road trip
Agree What Type of Road Trip You’re Taking
You may be simply trying to get to a destination in the fastest possible time to enjoy a single resort holiday. Maybe you want to take a slow, steady bimble along country back roads, in search of remote getaways. Maybe your road trip is more of a driving holiday. If you’re road tripping with family or friends, it’s important that you agree before you leave what kind of road trip you’re all looking for.
Plan Your Route (and stops) Before You Leave
You may have a destination in mind and your Sat Nav may well give you the most direct route. But is this the route you want to take? Will you be missing some hidden gems and superb drives? Does the route involve 8 hour long drives on boring motorway networks or is it a shorter route? Does that suit all of the people travelling in your group? Without some route planning before you leave, you may end up with a car full of very unhappy passengers and one very happy driver. Or vice versa.
It’s surprising how far you can’t travel in a day, despite what the online route planning tools suggest. Delays, detours or bad weather can make your plans simply unachievable. Plan for the unexpected, embrace the unknowns and assume that you will only drive for a shorter number of hours per day. That means plan for a leisurely breakfast, stopping for lunch, seeing some sights along the way and getting to your accommodation before it’s too late in the day to take in the sunset.
Make sure to plan in some downtime and non-driving days too. You never know what great opportunities you’ll come across that you’ll want to take advantage of.
Set your Budget
Road travel may not be the cheapest way to travel, not these days when you can fly from East Midlands to Rome for less than the price of a good evening meal. Fuel, road tolls, food and accommodation costs all adds up. Even those coffee breaks can become an expensive budget line item. Then of course there’s the cost of the fun stuff you plan to do. Consider your budget, and what your road trip is really likely to cost you before you leave. Agree upfront how the cost will be shared with your group. It’ll save arguments and damaged friendships in the long run. Make sure you have access to emergency funds just in case of the unexpected.
Plan your Accommodation
It’s ok to plan and book hotels before you leave, as long as you don’t under estimate the distances you need to travel. To keep costs down, look at staying at hostels, camp-sites, sleeping at aires, homestays and guest houses or even searching for cheap apartments on Airbnb. For a flexible road trip, you may not want to have too many bookings made in advance. Consider the budget and seek out cheap options for last minute bookings.
Where Are you Going to Eat?
After fuel, food is probably the 2nd largest expense. If you plan to mainly use restaurants then fine, but it is also sensible to plan to self-cater. There’s no need to buy a car fridge, just use a cool box and buy fresh foods daily in supermarkets on the way or from road side stalls. It’ll give you greater flexibility for lunch breaks and it’s a great way to find cheap, wholesome, local produce. Check out our thrifty money saving tips to help your holiday budget.
Preparing the Car
It is really important your car is roadworthy, well serviced and road trip ready. It’s not much of a road trip if you keep breaking down. Check your tyres, including the spare are all in good shape, top up your windscreen wash and oils levels. Make sure you have the necessary tools packed to change a tyre and if you’re mechanically minded, the tools that you may just need in the event of an unexpected breakdown. If you’re not mechanically minded, consider appropriate breakdown cover that’ll be a godsend if you find yourself stranded miles from anywhere.
It is so easy to take too much on a road trip and to overload the car to bursting point. With bags and boxes crammed into every available space, it’ll quickly become an uncomfortable ride for everyone. Consider how you organise your bags, and where all the often used items will be stored. If you regularly stop for a coffee break and use your Kelly kettle, there’s no point storing it underneath all the bags as every time you stop you’ll have to unpack to get to it. Seriously consider what are essential packing items and ditch the nice to have’s. Don’t forget your first aid kit though!
Road trips are unforgettable experiences and you can take the stress out of the preparation by following these simple tips on how to plan the perfect road trip. The open road awaits you. Safe travels!
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