As someone who’s done lots of driving across continents, I have a method for preparing for a long trip. I used to hate sitting in the car for long periods of time, groaning and complaining and just waiting for it to be over. But now I enjoy these trips, knowing that adventure awaits! However, long haul trips can be boring or uncomfortable at times. Sometimes, preparation is key to making sure your road trip is a blast. Here are some of my road trip tips for you!
Be Musically Prepared
Music is my #1. I like music with everything. As music lover, I just have to have music in the car. And on road trips, even more so. Sometimes I prepare a playlist ahead of time (think driving to France, playing lots of French cafe music). Whatever your style is, I recommend at least preparing one playlist that you can download offline with Spotify. You never know when you’ll enter a dead zone, and then you’ll have no way of listening to those sweet tunes.
Check for major holidays in all of the countries you drive through
This is a story for another day, but in short, we were once driving through Germany and our car broke down. We were subsequently stuck in Germany for 3 days because Bavaria, a very religious region, was celebrating Corpus Christi and no car shop was working. So if you’re someone who’s worried about car break downs and being able to get things fixed, check for holidays in the countries you’re driving through so that you don’t risk being stranded somewhere.
Make sure your car (if it’s yours) gets a checkup before a road trip
A second part of that story for another day, make sure your car gets a checkup before any major road trips. Don’t just cross your fingers and hope it’ll make it. The last thing you need are your brakes seizing down the highway at high speeds. Just send your car to the shop and get a quick checkup done. Worst case scenario, you’ll find out something needs to be replaced. Doesn’t that ease the mind though?
Snacks and Drinks
Hydration is key on long trips. I usually buy a 1.5L bottle of water for the car when we go. We also stop at a gas station and pick up some snacks – sweet and savory. Gum and fruity snacks are great for keeping you awake when you’re feeling sleepy. Also, I like to buy a popsicle on hot summer days. It’s a great way to start off a trip 🙂
Wet wipes & Antibacterial lotion
Sometimes road trips take you off the main roads. This also means that sometimes, there aren’t normal toilets. Or the toilets have no paper. Or water. I like to travel with wet wipes just in case. Sometimes it’s just better to be safe than sorry. Keeping your hands clean will also make you feel more refreshed.
Bring water for your four-legged friend
Dog lovers and owners – when road tripping with a dog, bring water. You may think your dog doesn’t need it when all he’s doing is just sitting there, but car trips can be exhausting and dehydrating. Take a bowl with you or a travel bottle with a drinking bowl. These will help keep your furry friend cool and hydrated.
Take stops, pit stops, explore a little
Adventure is the essence of a road trip. Don’t just drive straight from point a to b. Take stops, enjoy the view, smell the roses! If there’s an attraction that looks interesting 20 minutes off the main route, just go! Go and explore. Live a little. You will never know what you will see, or the people you will meet or the memories you will make.
Avoid high traffic times in heavily populated areas
This is a warning. Never ever try to leave a major city between 7 and 9 in the morning. Just don’t. Especially if you are close to the center. And try to avoid heading into the city between 16-18. These are just terrible times for everyone, and there’s a good chance you will be stuck in traffic. Instead, delay your arrival/departure, and do something fun. Kill some time and make use of the freedom!
Clean your car before the trip
There’s nothing better than a clean car for a road trip. Now, I’ve known people with messy cars. I’m not talking about that. If you have half of your apartment in your car, that’s another problem and you should clean that out asap. What I mean is, a little bit of trash, dust, dirt. Those things. Take your car to the wash, vacuum up all the grime, clean up the trash, wipe down the surfaces. It will be refreshing. Trust me.
Don’t eat at gas stations or fast food unless you’re low on time. If you can spare the 45 minutes, go off road to some village and try some food from the local pub or restaurant. The quality is usually far better than what you will get from the sandwich case at the gas station. Plus, you’re not rushing to get back to the car. Relax, chat, have a cold drink (non-alcoholic if you’re the driver of course).
Use Waze. I’ve used Waze in the US and Europe, and by far, it is better than anything else. It shows you the current speed limits, traffic updates, road closures. Waze has a lot of active users, who also report stopped cars, potholes, construction zones and police officers (we all speed sometimes). It’s always been very accurate for us. Try it out, I really recommend it.
Obviously, I could probably write a whole book with road trip tips, but these are my top tips that I consider crucial to a successful and happy road trip. But the most important tip is this: bring a good mood and a smile. Nothing quite ruins a road trip for people who are grumpy and complain about everything. Enjoy the adventure, don’t feel so pressured into sticking to the plan, and drive.