A road trip is one of the most exciting ways to travel. The freedom of the open road beckons you to explore and discover some hidden treasures, all at a low cost as well as at your own pace. It’s important, though, to be aware of the risks that come alongside a road trip. Here are some vital tips to keep you safe and sound during your adventure.
Pack the essentials
When road tripping, you’re going to want to pack for any eventuality. There’s always a risk of being stuck in a predicament where you won’t be very close to any service stations, and so you should prepare by packing some backup food and water. Consider granola or energy bars, as they’ll survive the car and won’t spoil. Keep your bottled water away from sunlight so as to avoid it being warm and undrinkable.
It’s also important to have a first aid kit in the back in case of emergency, as well as a roadside kit. A torch, hi-vis jackets, a reflective triangle, jumper cables and coolant are amongst the recommended necessities. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be a million miles away from any form of assistance, but it’s wise to prepare for the worst.
Plan your routes – lightly
Your need for adventure on a road trip is likely to take you off the beaten track a few times, but it’s wise to plan a loose route that you can divert from if and when you need to. Map out your starting point and your destination, and find the main routes in between the two points so you can work out a rough route. A paper map, although it may seem like the ancient option, will let you do this a lot more effectively – as well as adding to the excitement.
Alongside the map, consider using a GPS. It’s highly likely that you’ll be drawn from the route a few times, and so a GPS will be able to track you wherever you are and help you return to the main roads. Be careful when exploring, though – make sure you’re not driving into danger, and always be aware of where you are and how to get back to safety.
Know the rules of the road
Wherever you go, there’s bound to be some different rules of the roads than what you’re used to – the most striking perhaps being the side of the road you drive on. Everyone in the world bar those in the UK, Australia, Japan and a few select others are required to drive on the right side of the road. Make sure you know which lane to stick to.
And look out for some bizarre, lesser known laws in the country you’re travelling, too. Did you know, for example, that Swedish law requires you to have your headlights turned on constantly, even in broad daylight? Brush up on your knowledge before arriving, so you’re not caught out on breaking a law you didn’t even know about.
Have a budget
Imagine nearing the end of the trip and going to refuel, only to realise you haven’t got enough money. It can happen very easily on road trips, what with the constant spending on food, drink and accommodation, as well as the unprepared costs for potential repairs to the vehicle and money spent on visiting certain places.
A great way to avoid any similar problems to this is to have a daily budget. Outline how much you can realistically spend every day on each factor of the trip, such as food, drink, accommodation, fuel, and activities. When budgeting, you’re advised to also leave some money spare for any unexpected events. Try other ways of saving money, too – look into staying in spare rooms and couch surfing. They’re much cheaper forms of accommodation you can now easily sort online through a variety of different popular sites.
Make sure your car is road ready
Whether you’re hiring a car or bringing your own, it’s crucial to ensure it’s ready for an extensive journey. Make sure it has recently been serviced and has enough oil and water to last. If you’re planning to use your own vehicle, make sure it has the right requirements and has been recently serviced.
If you’re hiring a car, aim to go with a reputable firm you know you can trust. Although you’ll likely be fine to go with a smaller local firm, it’s a bit more of a risk. Examine the car for any pre-existing damage and be sure to take pictures to save having to pay out for it once you return. Request to see the car’s history, too – it may have had a serious issue previously that could potentially be a detriment to the trip.
Create an itinerary
Although it shouldn’t be too strict, it’s a good idea to plan out what you’re going to do during the road trip. Know where you want to visit and when, but leave room for exploring and discovering new places that you want to stop at. Consider the time it takes to get from A to B, and leave enough time so you won’t have to rush anywhere.
It’s also a good idea to give a copy of this itinerary to those who are staying at home. This way someone will always be aware of where you should be and where you’ll be going, just in case you get stuck or lost and are in need of assistance. The most important thing, though, is to not make the itinerary too strict – it’s a holiday, after all. Let the majority of the trip be spontaneous and laidback.
Have entertainment – for kids and adults
Don’t run the risk of getting bored during the long drives. Sure, you’ll find it fascinating just gazing out of the window at your new surroundings, but long, meandering stretches of motorways and country roads will likely prove to get a little bit stale after a while. So, why not have some entertainment? Bring books to read, movies to watch on a tablet or laptop and some music – consider making your own custom playlist or mixtape full of the perfect road trip songs that will soundtrack your journey.
Another simple yet effective idea for keeping you and your fellow passengers occupied is playing some games. Bring some cards with you so that they can be played both in the car and outside of it when you stop, and even consider the even simpler options – I Spy is always a safe bet for everyone to enjoy.
Author: Ivana Oliver
main image: https://flic.kr/p/
First aid kit: https://flic.kr/p/8ridA3
Road sign: https://flic.kr/p/7GNCNM
Red Mustang: https://flic.kr/p/oM715h