Road trips are a thing that many people dream about but never actually get the chance to go on, whether as a family, group of friends or if you’re a solo nomad and the main reason that many road trips never materialise is because of poor planning. If you’ve got the dream of your life within reach, don’t let it fade away just because you didn’t put enough into the planning of your trip. Here’s our ultimate guide to road tripping to ensure that you can make your dreams happen.
The beauty of a road trip is that you can set your own hours of travel, choose your own destinations and of course your own accommodation, budget depending. The other thing to consider when road tripping is that you don’t actually have to carry your luggage around by hand, you can chuck it into your car/van/truck or whatever it is that you’re tripping in and head off on your journey. The other beauty of not being on a plane is that you don’t miss out all the places between destination A and destination B so you get to take in a lot more than you would if you were on a plane. Anyway, without further ado, here’s some hints and tips to consider when you’re planning your road trip.
Plan Your Route
This is probably the most obvious point that could be made to someone planning a road trip but you’d be surprised at the amount of people who just have a destination in mind and hit the road without planning anything else. If you’re not travelling alone then it’s also worth considering that you’re going to have passengers with you and you need to consider their welfare too.
Before you head out on your journey, plan and map out your route and how you’re going to get to your destination before you leave. Have a set route in mind and also consider two or three alternative routes just in case you hit road works or delays along the way.
Check and Prep Your Car
Your car is obviously going to be one of, if not the most important part of this road trip for obvious reasons. Before you head out on the road, you should ensure that you carry out a few pre-trip checks to ensure that you’re not going to be hitting problems when you’re on your journey. These checks can save you both time and money which is important when you’ve got somewhere to be by a certain date and you’re on a limited budget.
- Windscreen Wash
This may not seem all that important but when you’re going to be driving long distance, you’re almost certain to experience different kinds of weather on your route. It’s no good setting off on a nice sunny day and thinking that it’s going to be like that for the whole of your trip. There’s a chance you’ll hit rain eventually and driving through different terrains will mean that your car gets dirty and of course, so will your windscreen so if you’ve no way of cleaning it whilst you’re driving you could end up in a spot of bother.
- Check Your Lights
This kind of goes without saying. You’re going to need some of the lights on your car, without doubt. Maybe not your headlights as you might be planning no night time trips but things like your reversing lights and your indicators you use on almost every journey you go on. Of course, if you’re going to be driving at night you will need your lights so it’s worthwhile that you check your headlights, full beam, fog lights and so on as these will come in handy during your trip if you’re travelling anywhere after dark.
- Check Your Tyres
Another one that really should go without saying as your tyres, aside from your engine, are probably the part of your car that take the biggest beating during any use of your vehicle. You should know that the minimum legal tread depth limit for your tyres in the UK is 1.6mm and less than that can you land you in hot water with the authorities. It’s worth checking that you have the right tyre pressure too, you can ensure this is correct at a local garage. Having the wrong tyre pressure can lead to poor fuel efficiency, more wear on the tyres and perhaps worst of all, if you’re on a long journey, you can suffer from poor handling.
Budget, Budget, Budget!
Even though driving may be cheaper than catching a flight to your destination (if that’s even possible), there’s plenty of things that you should consider as a part of your budget as there’s nothing worse than setting out with X amount of money and soon realising that you’re running short much quicker than you anticipated. You should ensure that you’ve included things like food and accommodation in your budget too as you’re going to have eat and sleep on this trip, right?
On top of the staple things that we mentioned above, it’s worth setting some money aside to cover just in case of an emergency. There’s so many things that could happen, especially to your car, such as getting a blow out on your car tyres or, if you haven’t got a sufficient amount of oil in your car before you set off, you could find that you’re driving along one day and bam, your engine will seize up. Things like this need to be considered in your budget too as they aren’t cheap!
Try and Save Cash
This one is kind of a given, really. You don’t want to go all out on your road trip. You’ve planned your route, you’ve sorted your budget, that doesn’t mean that you should start splashing the cash on unnecessary things when you’re on the road. Just think, you go under budget for a full week and get by, you’ve got more money the week after and so on and so forth.
One thing to bear in mind too is the weight that you’re transporting in the car. Obviously your weight and that of any passengers is set but extra weight on top of that will reduce your fuel efficiency. The lighter your ride, the further she’ll glide.
Prep for the Return Trip
This is the one bit that almost everyone on a road trip won’t be looking forward to. That doesn’t mean that it’s not something you shouldn’t prepare for though and the first thing that you should do is to carry out a quick check on your car. Safety, as it should have been through the whole trip already, is just as important for your return leg home. Inspect your car, your tyres, your oil and various other things to ensure that you’re not missing something that could put you in any immediate danger.
After this, it’s important that you clean your car out. Well, it’s maybe not that important but it’s something that you’ll thank yourself for when you get back home and you’re tired out and don’t have to face the thought of tidying out your car after how many days/weeks/months on the road.