An alternative to backpacking and a way to see more of a country, whilst enjoying the benefits of driving is of course to take a road trip. From Switzerland to Italy, Sydney to Melbourne and Chicago to California there are limitless possibilities when it comes to road trips.
The car you will be driving will need to be an important consideration to make, in any case, just as important as the route you will be driving on. There are many options open to you, using your own car, hiring a car or the longer road trips you may be even thinking about buying a car abroad. When you are comparing the cars available either for rental or purchase place a high level of importance on the fuel economy and the miles per gallon offered by the car. This will cut down the amount of fuel you will be using and save you money, essential when taking a longer road trip where fuel costs will quickly mount up. Check out the car marketplaces in the country you are visiting, CarSales.com.au for example, serves Australia and Autotrader.com can be useful for those taking a USA road trip.
When planning your route there are many options available to you. There are countless website that list popular routes across each of the continents and you may find these routes have everything you are looking for, especially if you are new to the area. Alternatively you could craft your own route by picking a start and end point, highlight some of the most important places on the map that you would like to see, how long you would like to stay there and then choose your accommodation for the evening based on this. Plan regular refreshment breaks into the schedule and bear in mind potential traffic issues on the way and allow some leeway for this. Although we tend to have satellite navigation systems and even GPS on our phones always ensure you plan your route out in advance and take a map with you to avoid any issues should you encounter an area with poor GPS service.
Don’t plan a first road trip that’s too long, although hitting the road and travelling until your heart is content is a great way to de-stress and enjoy the surroundings around you it can also be tiring and considered to be somewhat of a culture shock for some. Short trips can be quickly added to if you feel like it as you go, long trips can be more difficult to cut down and go home if you haven’t loved the experience as much as you thought you would and lots of planning will have gone to waste.
Travel with Friends!
Avoid travelling alone, ideally you should take a group of friends. Driving can be tiresome and often inspires taking the train or other modes of transport. But traveling with friends can be relaxing because it helps to be able to switch up the routine slightly and all take turns in driving. Ensure everyone that will be driving the vehicle is ensured and the car is big enough for everyone and their luggage can fit in the boot of the car, there is nothing worse than spending the whole road trip cramped!
Packing for a road trip is slightly different to backpacking or a normal self catering holiday, there are some essential bits you should keep in the boot of the car for any potential mechanical emergencies. Create a checklist of things you will need such as extra water, small tools and so on before you leave.
Each country has a different set of laws regarding driving, it is essential you look into these before planning your road trip, these could be something as simple as the age you must be to be able to drive or carrying things in your car with you. France for example requires you to carry safety equipment such as a warning triangle, reflective jacket and a breathalyser kit.
Photo Credit: Key Foster