I love going on road trips, it`s a great way to discover a destination at your own pace. I have been on trips through parts of Australia, Florida and recently Ireland. Looking back I definitely learnt some lessons along the way and I thought I`d share them with you.
Make a list of places you want to visit. This might sound obvious, but a road trip needs planning in regards to the time you have available, how long it will take you to get from A to B and what`s possible to include. When looking on a road map, it`s easy to plan too many places of interest because it doesn`t look that far on the map. Reality is that roads can be narrow and windy, there might be traffic or there are strict speed limits etc that will slow you down.
As for accommodation, it`s been my experience that you should at least have two nights at your stop along the way. In Florida we only had one night, meaning we arrived, unpacked, slept and had to move on, giving us very little time to explore the place you`re staying at. Whereas on our Ireland trip, we made sure we had two nights at each destination, making it possible to explore the area around, which offers a more relaxed way of traveling and so much more enjoyable.
If you are taking your own car, make sure it gets serviced before you leave on a road trip. Alternatively, when you hire a car (like we did) make sure you have the right insurance, check your car for any marks or previous damages when you pick it up.
What to bring?
A knife (maybe even a spoon and fork), but definitely a knife. Why? Being on the road most of the day means you`ll either be eating a lot of junk food or spending a lot of money eating at restaurants. To avoid both, stop at a local grocery shop or supermarket along the way and buy your own picnic. It`s healthier and better for your budget!
Wet wipes, that`s an easy one. Always convenient to have them around.
Bring a paper road map. Yes, it`s old fashioned with a GPS and internet these days, but when your GPS hasn`t got the latest update or you don`t have reception and your internet is not working, you`ll be grateful for your paper road map as a backup. I would also recommend investing in buying data to have internet on your phone instead of a GPS (especially when renting a car, as rental companies ask a lot of money for a GPS). Google maps shows you where you are and has the latest information.
Bring your own music. Even though there`s the option of the radio, experience has taught me that when you`re driving all day it`s nice to have good music and having your own playlist with you.
Good to know
Do a bit of research on the driving rules in the country you`re visiting. This will help you with speed limits and other practical tips that might be different. Here are some driving tips for Ireland, UK and USA.
Make sure you check if your vehicle is allowed on all the roads you`ll be driving. For example when renting a motorhome/RV, this is considered a larger vehicle and is sometimes not permitted because of the narrow roads or the elevation of the road.
Like I mentioned in the preparation, roads take a lot longer in reality than in theory. We`ve learned that while we were in Ireland. Even though the speed limit might be 100km/h on most roads, it`s not what you`ll be driving as the roads are narrow and windy.
When renting a car, make sure you ask them how tolls are billed. Is it better to pay in advance for a pass, can you pay at toll boots or will you be billed afterwards? This way you won`t have any unpleasant surprises at the end of your trip.
Bathroom breaks are important, most supermarkets have a toilet available for their customers.
These are a few of the things I learned during my road trips and I hope they`ll help you on your next adventure! Feel free to share where you`re off to next in the comments below.
What`s your top road trip tip?
Our recent road trip through Ireland was with the help of Argus Car Hire.