There is one thing we learned while road tripping around the world, never plan a road trip.
I have to admit it, at the very beginning I liked to plan out every mile of our trips and include in my research popular stopovers as well as hidden wonders to make sure I would have ended the trip with no regrets. But truth is, your plans will change. A road closed because of extreme weather conditions, hotels-motels-campsites fully booked because you miscalculated local school holidays or, again, to access that specific Nation Park you need a 4×4 but – whoops! – you are driving a Fiat Panda. Nope, not overstating. Everything mentioned here above actually did happen to us.
So here’s the ultimate secret: GET IN THE CAR & ENJOY THE ROAD!
While waiting for the next adventure don’t forget to have a look to our Tools & Tips to plan a road trip!
The Ultimate Guide to a perfect Road Trip
Essential Tips for newbies On the Road
↠ Plan the start and – if you have to – the end of the road trip. Defining the duration will help you planning how far you can go and what you can actually visit.
↠ Decide where you’re going and what you would like to visit, then rank your priorities – when I said ‘never plan a road trip’, I didn’t mean to hit the road and simply see where you wind up! Look at a map, mark the main places then – if you want to leave the beaten track and find out local, less touristy places – check out a few travel blogs and bloggers itineraries. Our favourites: the British duo of Along Dusty Roads and the Canadian couple of Goats on the Road.. oh, and us (of course) the Italo-Irish duo of Ultimate Detours
↠ Check the weather forecast during the season you decided to travel in, especially if your road trip is based on outdoor activities. Here’s a few reason’s why: some roads can flood during the wet season and national parks or tracks can be closed; days can be too short to visit a place – especially if you travel far north where the sun might rise for only a couple of hours a day; some areas might be too humid and hot to be pleasant to visit and some areas can be unexpectedly snowy if picked during the wrong season and roads can be unsafe.
↠ Budget the trip, then define the daily budget, this will prevent crazy bank statements at the end of the holiday. While budgeting consider:
● car rental costs. Check budget rental companies or, perhaps, car sharing or authorised hitch-hiking solutions like Bla Bla Car
● fuel. If possible rent hybrid cars, cheap in fuel and good for the environment
● food&drinks. Consider bringing along easy-to-prepare food and snacks, avoid restaurants
● accommodation. If you are on a budget, consider renting a camper van or read point 7
● parks/museums/ entry fee. If you are planning to visit different national parks, check out the annual pass: fees are reasonable and sometimes include campgrounds and guided tours, a bargain! Cities have the City Pass – this gives you discounted, or free rides on public transport and several entrances to museum and tourist attractions.
↠ Be prepared. Make sure you always know how far the next petrol station is – some areas, like the Australian west coast has a petrol station every 300 to 400 km. If this is your case, consider bringing along an extra tank of fuel and a good restock of drinkable water (tap water is not always drinkable and sometimes refrigerated bottles are not that easy to find!)
↠ Do a car check up. If you are planning to travel on your own car – or you live overseas and you bought a cheap vehicle – make sure that it’s in good working condition. You don’t want your car to break down in the middle of the desert – yep, did it 😉
Tools to Plan a Road Trip as a Pro
↠ If you do like to plan the whole trip in advance you can use road-trip planning websites and apps. They will help you decide how far to drive every day, where to stop, what to visit as well as where to sleep – including guiding you through the accommodation booking process. Our favourite: RoadTrippers.com
↠ Consider all the sleeping options. Europe has affordable hotels, in the USA motels – or hostels in big cities – rule. Australia and New Zealand have plenty of free (or cheap) campsites. Check out WikiCamps, the ultimate camping guide for smartphone, tablets and Windows PC. Here you will find the most up-to-date database for campgrounds, caravan parks, backpacker hostels, day use areas but also points of interest and information centres. Available for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and USA – it’s worth the price (from 0,99£ Uk to 7,99$ AUS).
↠ Prepare a playlist. Okay, a little predictable as tip but always underestimated! Radio is not aways working and music played is not always the one you like so… get ready for the long hours drive with your favourited artists. How? We love Spotify.
Now you are ready to go!
Get out there! xx