Last Updated on 12th August 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
From meandering coastal routes to National Park escapes, planning a great excursion in the form of a road trip is one of the easiest ways of getting off the beaten path, away from large tourist spots, and discovering places you would never have otherwise known existed. But when it comes to any great road trip, planning is definitely the key in creating lasting and enjoyable memories. Here are some of the best fantastic road trip tips you should know about before planning your next adventure…
Agree on a rough itinerary with your fellow passengers
There’s nothing worse than ending up with arguments during your road trip as a result of mere miscommunication efforts. As a result, I highly recommend planning out a rough itinerary in advance with your fellow travellers and take into account what each person wants to see and do.
Compromise is key and getting to see a little of what individual wants to do will ensure a great time for all. By following a part of each person’s interests, in this way, you also might end up discovering places and locations which you would never have thought to visit on your own.
Start your days early
There is nothing worse than staring out on a road trip mid-day, only to be delayed and only end up reaching that night’s destination post-dusk. The best plan of action when embarking on a road trip is to begin your days early and making the most of each destination during daylight hours.
Of course, this also means that you can truly relax in the evenings rather than rushing to find a hotel reservation or check in with and Airbnb host. Don’t have Airbnb yet? Sign up using this code and you’ll get money off your first booking.
Agree on a budget/ spending plan
Though yourself and your fellow passengers might have an entirely different idea on what you wish to personally spend money on (some might prefer fancy dinners while others opt for saving their money on local attractions and experiences), it’s important to agree on a budget prior to your visit. Since you will be travelling by car and splitting rental/ fuel costs, the main aspect to consider is your accommodation. Discuss what everyone feels comfortable spending and plan accordingly.
Have a plan for designated drivers
If there’s more than one of you driving, the ideal way to plan your trip would be to have designated drivers for certain parts of the route and to make sure that everyone partakes in their fair share of driving. This is also a great way to gauge who feels comfortable in driving in what conditions; for example, one of the group may find more comfortable driving in cities, while others might prefer rural routes.
Moreover, if you are planning on going out for dinners, then taking it in turns each evening for each driver to drive everyone home while the others enjoy an alcoholic beverage is the fairest way to split up the driving route.
Start with a clean car
Chances are, by the end of the road trip, your vehicle will be filled with empty potato chip packets and more than its fair share of mud. With this being said, you’ll want to start off your journey with a clean car in order to ensure the comfort of all your passengers.
Have some entertainment planned
On a recent trip road trip to Normandy with some of my closest girl friends, one of the reasons that the journey way so enjoyable (the few hours between each city truly cemented the idea that it’s ‘about the journey and not the destination’) was the entertainment en route.
Plan the perfect playlist (check out our easy French listening playlist here) and maybe even consider listening to audiobooks or Podcasts on the journey to break things up a little bit. If you are interested in France, then you can check out our French podcast, C’est la France.
Plan for extra time/ hiccups on the way
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of road tripping, it’s that things never go according to plan. Your co-pilot can get the directions wrong, your Sat-Nav can lead you off-piste, and traffic can and will happen. Try not to have too much of a rigid schedule and plan for whatever plans you do have to be delayed or disrupted.
Don’t plan your accommodation stops too far from each other
If there’s one way to ruin a good road trip, it’s to try and see and do too many things in one go. I’ve seen plenty of itineraries which suggest seeing all of France over the course of ten days. And while this is theoretically possible, there is something to be said of the art of slow travel.
After all, if you’re going on a road trip, it’s likely because you want to explore other areas, as opposed to spending hours at a time on the highway. Having shorter distances between each accommodation stop will not only cut down on fuel costs and allow for extra delays (such as traffic), but also allow you to stop off and explore hidden locations.
This way, if you do see a sign for a medieval church or secret waterfall, then you can simply head off the planned route and go and explore to your heart’s content, without the thought of having to drive for hours after your (un)planned stop.
Pack plenty of snacks
From ample water supplies for every passenger to having enough snacks to prevent any hanger-related episodes (particularly if you end up in a destination that can’t cater to the dietary requirements of all the group), it’s essential to pack enough snacks to last you the length of the journey.
As well as crisps and sweets, consider bringing healthier alternatives like cereal bars and dried fruits which transport well and will give you that extra boost of energy for when you most need it. Not only will you be thankful for having brought food supplies if you find that truck stops or restaurants en route are closed, but you are also likely to save plenty of money by planning well in advance!
Bring cash with you
Living in Europe, I’ve become pretty accustomed to cafés, bars, and bistros (and once, to my discovery, in a train station in rural Spain) only accepting cash. This is also the case with parking metres in many more rural areas. As such, carry not only your card on you, but some extra cash, including loose change for all of those extra expenses that crop up unexpectedly.