Top road trip tips

My girlfriend and I are just planning our next road trip so this is an ideal time to go back over some of the tips we wrote down during our last holiday.

Last years road trip was on the south west coast of the US – California, Arizona, et cetera. These states consist mostly of large stretches of desert and consequently some of the tips stem directly from this, most though are of a more general nature and should be useful in all road trip climates.

So here, in no particular order, are 14 of our top road trip tips:

  1. Four Wheel drive.
    • Some of the roads were surprisingly (read “excitingly”) rather more off, than on, roads.  But our rather large car – Dodge Avenger – coped very well. Four wheel drive, and a good distance between car and road, would have made for far less worry driving.
  2. Large covered boot.
    • A lot of the time you’ll be parked up with all your belongings sitting in the car boot (trunk!) while you’re off exploring. It’s a lot safer, and more reassuring to have your luggage hidden away from prying eyes.
  3. Locate free banks
    • Most banks, if you don’t hold an account, will let you take money out but will charge you for the pleasure so find out if some are free and then find out where they are – you don’t want to be spending your holiday money on chargers!
  4. Take an extra suitcase
    • Or better still, make sure you have plenty of spare room before you leave on holiday. You’ll no doubt collect the odd trinket or two so leave room. Alternatively, pack a suitcase inside another then you’ll only have to pay for extra luggage on the way back, if you need it.
  5. Take a SatNav
    • These make the driving adventure much more pleasant. You won’t have to concentrate on the roads, just watch the scenery fly by as you go. Try to take your own device though, the car hire ones can be expensive, and you can download the latest maps which you’ll be able to reuse if needed. A word of warning though, even the most up to date maps can be wrong – think twice *before* going down that particular dirt track! (And every one in a while turn it off – your exploring after all!)
  6. Buy a tracker device
    • The maps these satellite tracking systems produce make great little souvenirs of you holiday. They are surprisingly accurate, and work great in the car or out on foot. Try to take them everywhere you go, and leave them on all the time,  although if you do you should check beforehand to see if you’ll have enough space on the device to record everything. If not, turn it off while you sleep, just remember to turn it back on when you move on. You’ll need the recharger too!
  7. Buy a good backpack.
    • Even if you’re planning on doing just a little walking buy a good solid backpack – you’ll do more walking than you think. You won’t want to lug your suitcase around all over, but a small backpack – especially one with a water pouch – is a useful thing to have in lots of situations.
  8. Research restaurants beforehand.
    • Everyone has a budget of some kind, so make sure you know where the right eateries for you are. And if you look around before you go you’ll likely find some real gems.
  9. Keep some snacks in the car.
    • Some days, either by choice or fortune, you’ll likely miss a meal or two. In these cases a stash of biscuits (cookies!) or crisps (chips!) can be a life line. Extra water should *always* be kept too.
  10. Pay for those car extras.
    • It may seem a little luxurious to hire one of the more expensive cars but it’s worth it for that extra ease of driving. Automatic transmission, cruise control and aircon should be high on your list.
  11. Take a cloth to wipe the windscreen.
    • This is a strange one, but believe me you’ll accumulate a surprising number of insects on your windscreen (windshield!). You won’t want to use up precious water cleaning their remains off so buy a cheap cloth to do the dirty. Garages usually have a free window wiper, try to use if everytime you get petrol (gas!).
  12. Plan your trip in advance.
    • This sounds like it takes some of the adventure out of the trip but it mkaes a lot of sense. You can pick out the key places you definitely wouldn’tt miss, check their opening seasons / opening times and plan around them. And try to find accommodation close to these same places. Don’t forget though, you can always change you mind when you are there.
  13. Share driving.
    • You’ll be doing a heck of a lot of driving, much more than your usual amount so try to share it, swap over at least daily so you all get a good break. It’s also good to just be able to sit back and enjoy the journey.
  14. And lastly, when it’s hot…
    • Make sure you have sunscreen, sun glasses and a hat. And of course lots of water.

I hope they’ll come in handy for your trip, but if in doubt use your own common sense. I’ll certainly be following my own advice… to a limit… Every holiday needs some spontaneity, so once in while just forget all the advice you’ve ever heard and see where it takes you!

If you have another tip add it in the comments.

Have a safe trip.

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