Road trips are fun. You get to explore new places, meet new people, try new things, and maybe even do a little soul searching.
This is the perfect time to plan a road trip, what with the summer coming up. However, preparation is the key to a fun, hassle-free road trip. If you do your prep work right, you can be as spontaneous as you want to be once you’re on the road.
Here are some things you should remember before venturing out on an adventure of a lifetime.
Don’t cut too far into your budget, you might have an emergency
Always have something extra for a rainy day, and this isn’t about bringing an umbrella! Although…But we digress, even if you are on a strict budget, you always, always need to have some money on hand in cash. Many unexpected things can happen while you’re on your road trip. Your car might break down, you might need to stay an extra night, and so on. You should also bring a credit card in case your cash is not going to cut it. Make sure the card will be honored wherever you’re going.
Important tip: If you are going to buy souvenirs or be taking a stroll in a busy marketplace, keep your wallet in a safe place, and have small amounts of cash in your breast pocket to discourage pickpockets. A belt bag might be a good idea, but keep it in front of you instead of fashionably slung over your butt.
Rent a campervan/travel vehicle for a long trip with your friends
You might think to save money by bringing your own car, but if you’re bringing friends along, you will soon chafe at the close confines. Divvy up the cost to rent a campervan if you want to be comfortable in your travels. In Australia, you can even hire a motorhome on campervanfinder online for lengthy trips. You can offset the cost by not having to pay for accommodation.
Bring some toys and kits when you are bringing kids on your trip
Going on a road trip with small children is a challenge for many parents. They get tetchy and cranky, and they always want to know if you’re there yet. You can keep them entertained by bringing along their favorite toys and some board games. Bring along inexpensive bubble tubes, they’re good for hours of fun for the whole family.
You should also have a kit for cleaning their Sippy cups when running water is not an option (denture tablets) and a well-stocked first aid kit for those cuts and scratches. Have a couple of carabiners and a bungee cord handy so you can keep a leash your active five-year-old when you’re in crowded places.
Be friendly to your fellow travelers, to the locals, and well, to everybody
Leave your sense of entitlement back home. Carrying around an attitude can land you in trouble when you’re outside your territory. Be friendly to everyone you meet—within reason, of course—as you may need to be in their good graces at some point. Observe how the locals act and follow their lead. Be unfailingly polite, and keep your opinions to yourself. You never know what might offend the people you meet.
Bring key accessories with you
Since you’re on a road trip, travelling light is not as applicable as when you travel by air. You can afford to bring essential accessories such as a tote bag, sun block, water bottles, universal adapter, flashlights, batteries, portable steam iron, laptop, and a portable gas stove. Have a good supply of handy wipes and toilet paper, and don’t forget an ample supply of any prescription medications.
Be sure to bring all essentials
Make sure to bring necessary items. Arrange for the appropriate insurance and make sure you have all your travel documents in a waterproof bag. Have a duplicate in the glove compartment. Choose wrinkle-free clothes carefully, and make sure you can mix and match them. Depending on where you are going, bring just two sets of footwear, sandals being one of them. Have enough blankets and travel pillows for everyone, and make sure you bring your chargers.
Prepare your body and mind before going on a trip
Be sure to have plenty of rest so that you are at peak physical condition. A road trip is fun, but it is also tiring. You don’t want to set off with a compromised immune system and get sick, which can ruin the whole thing. Have a complete physical check up prior to a long road trip, and get the green light from your doctor, especially if you have a medical condition. If you plan on engaging in rigorous activities such as surfing, tone your body several weeks before your trip.
If you are travelling by plane, be on time at the airport, and bring your tickets with you
This might sound obvious, but if you have to travel by plane to get to the start point of your road trip, make sure you don’t miss your flight. Pack your bags the night before and give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. Don’t forget your tickets!
Look for an affordable but pleasant hotel, and you should know its reputation
Book your accommodation for each of your planned stops in advance to get the best deals. You will have the opportunity to check online reviews so you avoid doing the funky chicken with the cockroaches. If you rent a caravan or motorhome, it would be a good idea to find likely campsites. You can save a bundle if you can spend a couple of nights under the stars!
Have fun, and leave your problems behind
Plan your trip carefully to make the most of what is available along your route. However, don’t be too obsessive about following a schedule. You might have missed something in the planning stage, so allow enough time for unexpected detours if you find something interesting along the way. Allow yourself the freedom to relax, forget all your worries, and just have fun.
A road trip is fun because it is rife with possibilities. However, that doesn’t mean you should leave everything to chance. Expect the best, but be ready for the worst. That way, it will be a road trip to remember for all the right reasons.
Featured photo credit: Sem Vandekerckhove via flickr.com