Traveling by car is one of the easiest, most comfortable and often also economic friendly methods of traveling. It gives freedom to stop along the way and explore places you wouldn’t have come by if traveling by plane. However, if the trip is not well planned, it can easily become more annoying than enjoyable to travel by car. Here are some tips for a successful road trip:
Assigning tasks on a road trip is the key to a successful trip. We cannot all be in control of music, hotels, road maps, snacks, budgets etc. So assigning duties to everyone makes life on the road easier.
This summer when it was just my husband and I traveling, he was responsible for everything relating to the car (insurances, service, music, podcasts and packing), while I was responsible for everything along the way (booking of hotels, having the GPS up to date with the next destination, buying snacks along the way and always having water on hand while driving). When we crossed Cuba by car earlier this year with my parents in law, we had more or less the same roles, but this time my mother in law was responsible of the budget, taking notes every time we fueled for the accounting at the end of the trip and my father in law made sure we always had snacks on hand.
The responsibility often lands on the person driving, but this way everyone is taking part in ensuring a perfect trip.
Download music and podcasts
Make sure to download music and podcasts for the long days on the road. And if not driving your own car, then make sure to check beforehand if the car has Bluetooth. If not, then bring a mini jack stick for the AUX outlet. And for a more primitive car (read: Cuba) bring a little speaker. The time flies when listening to an interesting podcast.
Plan part of the trip from home
Having a main purpose of the trip is good. E.g. discover the south of France, cross an island, make it to Madrid etc. This way you can do some research from home and make sure you actually get to visit some of the places you wish to. If traveling in the high season, it is also good to book some hotels/apartments/rooms in advance.
I believe that having the first half of the trip planned in advance will kick you off in a calm way without worries of where to go next. Then, when the planned part is coming to an end, you can start thinking of what you would like other half to be like; drive for a city, a beach, the countryside etc. You’ll meet people along the way who can inspire you to where to go next.
When we did our Cuban road trip we knew that we wanted to drive from Havana in the north to Santiago in the south. As the northern part of the country is quite popular and we had some specific places we really wanted to see, we booked the first eight days of the trip from home. From Trinidad and down to Santiago we didn’t have anything planned – and thank God for that! We were honestly fed up with culture and wanted to rest, so we booked three days at a beach resort. This room for spontaneity wouldn’t have been there if we had booked everything in advance.
Clean the car from home
Starting a trip with a nice and tidy car is just so much nicer. Leaving for a road trip is like starting something new, and we all know that when our surroundings are tidy our minds are too. For a longer trip a cleaning along the way is also recommendable. When we traveled this summer, we had a full inside and outside cleaning of the car in Barcelona for only 30 €. We felt like driving a brand new car afterwards!
Have a full service check of the car
Depending on the distance you are going to drive and whether you are driving your own car or a rental car, it is a very good idea to have a full service check of the car some months in advance. Are the breaks fully functional, is there enough oil etc etc. You don’t want to waste your precious time on vacation in some local car workshop just because you weren’t aware of the low oil level from home.
Bring healthy snacks
Finding healthy snacks isn’t always the easiest when traveling (this depends of the destination). Bring some whole grain crackers, raw bars and likewise from home to be sure to always have a quick snack on hand.
Check up on insurances
Having an accident along the way is something we all fear when leaving for several days on the road. But having an accident along the road and not having a proper insurance is just even worse. Make sure you and your car is ensured outside your own country and make sure to have all the paper on hand with direct phone numbers to your insurance company.