If you enjoy driving, have a sense of adventure and dream of discovering new places, you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a road trip!
That’s all very well, I hear you say, but how do I go about planning one? Well, that bit’s easy; just follow our guide to planning the perfect road trip.
How far can you go in the time you have?
Decide how far you want to travel: is it going to be a weekend break, a fortnight’s holiday, or even something longer? A month or two on the road sounds appealing, but you might have domestic responsibilities or a small budget or any one of a number of reasons why you can’t take a month off.
So think about the time you have and be realistic when deciding how far you want to travel. Make sure you give yourself enough time in each new place to explore it thoroughly, and after a good night’s sleep.
Driving is always more tiring than you think it will be; the last thing you want to do is arrive exhausted, flop into bed and have to leave at the crack of dawn to get to your next destination.
If you have some unavoidably long drives, try to have them at the beginning of the trip when the road is still alluring and you’re not longing to get home.
All that said, I’ve just Googled a trip from my home to Norway and back (I’ve always wanted to drive The Atlantic Road), which could be done as a four-day mini-break, albeit a packed one.
With that in mind, every now and then 'Think Big' and don’t let a busy life prevent you from doing something wonderful!
Six tips for driving long distances
Where do you want to go?
Now to decide where you want to go and what you want to see while you’re there.
You could decide to do one of the iconic road trips: a holiday-of-a-lifetime Route 66 adventure in America calls to many – or there is our home-grown alternative the North Coast 500, a 500-mile loop through the Scottish Highlands that could be done in a week.
Or you might want to forge your own path. Trip Advisor is a good source of information on what’s worth seeing and what isn’t (although beware: some people’s expectations of what to expect can be woefully unrealistic…) while a couple of hours on the internet should give you some inspiration.
Failing that, do you have a favourite book whose locations you could follow? Or a favourite painting or piece of music? The possibilities are endless: I once spent a day tracing the locations mentioned in the Warren Zevon song Werewolves of London, ending the day by drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s…
Read our guide to some of the UK's best drives
Plan your route – but don’t be scared to deviate from it
Route planning in the past involved sitting down for hours and days with a map and a pencil and a bottle of Aspirin. Thankfully, life has moved on and you can now do the whole thing online. I use Google Maps for the initial planning as it allows you to drag and drop your route easily, helping you fine-tune your waypoints.
If you need the reassurance of knowing you have a place to rest your head, you can find hotels on sites like booking.com that let you cancel within 24 hours, so you can book a potential hotel, then cancel and book another one later down the line, if it’s closer to something you want to visit.
If you’d prefer to sort your overnight stops out when you arrive, it will give you even more freedom. When I have done this in the past, I’ve always found the local Tourist Information Centre is a great source of information on the best places to stay.
How does a sat nav work?
Pack for your trip
The final element of preparation might involve getting the car serviced or even hiring one at your starting point. You’ll need some clothes too, and something to keep you entertained on any long, boring motorway stretches. (You get bonus points if you’ve managed to avoid using any motorways at all.) Don't pack everything but the kitchen sink just because you're in the car - you'll want room to move, and it will eat into your petrol if you're lugging round a ton of 'stuff'.
A passport, a toothbrush and a credit card will take you around the world, so there’s no need to overthink it!
Document your trip
Take lots and lots of photographs, and try to get a picture of yourself next to a ‘Welcome to…’ sign, so you can remember later where exactly you were on that day. Instead of posting them to social media, get them all made into a book, so you can take that roadtrip again and again in your memories – it’ll also make a great, thoughtful present for any roadtrip buddies who came along for the ride!
Where would you go on your perfect road trip? And who would be your perfect travelling companion? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!