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How to plan the perfect road trip

Updated on September 27, 2013

The wind in your hair, music blaring, nothing but you, some friends and a stretch of open road, let’s face it there is nothing more liberating and exciting than embarking on a road trip. Some may still value the idea of getting around by train, plane or subway as obvious and faster ways of travel, but there is something to be said for the unadulterated pleasure of embarking on a road trip. Yes you may be inspired to hit the road and let it take you where it will, however for many it is the only chunk of time that you will get to yourself, so proper planning will ensure that you make it as special as possible.

Plan, plan, plan, if you can! A road trip is the perfect opportunity to let down your hair and have some fun. The idea is not to have so much of a painful time, as much as you want to have an awesome one.

Pick a great destination

Presuming you’re taking a road trip at a time of year when you have a chunk of time on your hands, you want to really go all out and choose the best destination that you can imagine. Are you going to have a rest? Do you want to be energized? Does the destination even matter?

These are the kinds of questions that you should be asking as you prepare to hit the road for your all important road trip. Having a good idea on where to go on a road trip is often way more important than merely having a good time as you take to the road.

Choose your company carefully

You’ve got a gap, whether it’s a bit of time off your work or business schedule, time away from your hectic home or campus life. The point is that you have carved it out. As you go on that road trip, what kind of company do you wish to have?

Is this a family outing, a friend’s bash, wild and raucous, calm and sedate, young/old? Is everybody invited? Are you road tripping in an envoy or is this a one car/one person only operation? Maybe this is the kind of trip that you want to take by yourself and just allow your mind to clear up a bit. Alternatively, maybe the opposite is true and all you want to do is let loose and ride off into the sunset.

Understanding the crowd that you have travelling with you helps you to plan better for the needs of the entire group. Evaluating these kinds of factors all pave the way for you and everybody involved (if involved) to have the best possible time that you can.

Think comfort

Presuming that you are road tripping during the warm months, most people tend to love the warm weather and scenic routes as they drive, you would want to take some important comfort factors into consideration for your own personal comfort and pleasure.

  • Sunnies

Especially if you are one of the designated drivers for the period of the road trip, you will most probably encounter a lot of the glare and the sunlight that comes from sun exposure. Make sure that you carry a pair of sunnies in your bag or in your car to avoid the worst of the sun’s rays. Speaking of which…

  • Put on a good sunblock

It may seem like the kind of thing that Mom used to warn you about and you might think that these tiny little details would probably kill some of the joy of your trip, but the dangers of sun exposure and skin cancer are a reality that you simply cannot run away from.

No need for alarm bells though, get a decent quality sunscreen with a high enough sun factor to slather on for those long periods of travel and time on the road and enjoy your road trip with peace of mind.

  • Shoes

You are going to be spending long periods of time at the wheel and when you do stop, long periods of time exploring, having fun and playing tourist. Make sure you have the right footwear to help you go the distance in the type of terrain that you will be exploring.

  • Stay hydrated

In all the excitement of going from A to B it is easy to forget to wet your whistle as you travel.

Staying hydrated is all important in a situation like this as you will most likely be travelling long distances that require all of your focus and attention. Keeping hydrated, keeps your cells hydrated, oxygenated and helps you to remain alert at the wheel. Keep it real- water, fruit juices and soft drinks only, folks.

Road trips- the upshot!

Opportunity

See the uninterrupted chunks of time that you get for your road trips as an opportunity for some of the following:

NOTE:

Whilst road trips offer a lot by way of being lyrical and memorable when you look back on them, you do want to be a bit cautious as you embark on your journey.

  • Be wary of stopping in deserted areas.
  • Part of road tripping is about meeting new people and swapping stories along the way, make sure that this is done in a controlled fashion. If at any time you feel threatened or unsure, remember that you are not obligated to remain with strangers, turn tail and run if you have to.
  • Make sufficient stops for fuel, food, snacks and rest room breaks along the way.
  • Take along an emergency first aid kit with items for mild insect bites, plasters and gauze, torch and some antiseptic lotion if you can.
  • If you’re driving with someone, take turns so that neither of you are tired at the wheel. If you’re going solo make sure you plan enough stops along the way to get some rest.

Road trips - the upshot!

Opportunity

See the uninterrupted chunks of time that you get for your road trips as an opportunity for some of the following:

Heart to hearts and deep meaningful conversations

Connecting with friends and family aside, maybe you’re in a new relationship or if it is the same one that you have had for a while, road trips provide the perfect opportunity to connect with your loved ones.

There are often subtle nuances that we miss in our everyday lives with the people that we care about. We get into the habit of asking them just the necessary or the perfunctory questions, usually glossing over the answers before moving on with our own business. Use the time spent cooped up in the car that you’re in to play catch up, laugh at the inane things, have deep meaningful conversations, sing along or just be plain down silly and light hearted.

Spontaneity and Hobbies

Say you love photography, bird watching or even poetry, having a little time where you take to the road allows you a chance to indulge in some of your best ideas and hobbies with nobody breathing down your neck for looming deadlines and things that need to get done.

Besides you’re in the midst of the great outdoors, what better backdrop against which to capture something beautiful through photography, pen a few words of poetry or capture a few voice notes and melodies?

A chance to feed your senses with great music or audio books

Everybody agrees that nothing makes a trip more memorable than some really cool musical jams. If you’re travelling with friends get them all to bring along their favorite CD’s, make a mix tape before you leave on your journey so that everybody gets a chance to hear their favorites. Do a bit of research beforehand, choose what you love and have a good idea of what to play on your road trip long before you go.

Here are just a few good old road trip classics to help you on your way.

1. U2- Beautiful Day

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=co6WMzDOh1o

2. Tracy Chapman- Fast Car

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TO9Qa7MpAvw

3. Bon Jovi – It’s my life

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC67JzPqDG4

4. Nirvana- Smells like teen spirit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTWKbfoikeg

5. Life is a highway- Tom Cochrane

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3sMjm9Eloo

6. California dreaming – The Mama’s and the Papa’s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN3GbF9Bx6E

7. Roxette- Joyride

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCorJG9mubk

8. Where is my mind- The Pixies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrdpliMfoAM

9. Red Hot Chili Peppers- Road Trippin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11GYvfYjyV0

10. Bryan Adams- Summer of 69

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f06QZCVUHg

Road trip skit

Alternatively, if you’re on a trip alone or if you’re with a group of likeminded friends, you might want to play your favorite audio book on CD for all to hear. With you and perhaps your road trip partners for company you are a captive audience with quiet minds that are ready to absorb the nuances of every character, every event, plot and twist in the tale.

Do a bit of research and carefully select some audio books to take with you on your next road trip.

Enjoy, keep energized and have an amazing drive.

Self discovery

This is one to do when you’re all alone on a road trip or if you have a very quiet and understanding partner with you. The quiet time, the open road, nothing but you, nature and the elements, there’s nothing like it to give your thoughts some time to air and be heard. In the noise of everyday living, we tend to lose ourselves, our inner voices and our own truth. Having a little time on our hands while we are engaged in driving, we can reflect and allow our thoughts to come to the surface.

  • (If alone) Talk out loud
  • Sing away your problems
  • Reflect on matters and thoughts that you wouldn’t ordinarily have a chance to.
  • Have fun and test your skills of observation, count the number of signs you’ve seen or the number of people over the last few hours, it all helps to keep your brain sprightly and lively.

What makes a road trip memorable?

See results

At the end of the day, road trips offer important opportunities to revitalize your attitude rejuvenate your spirits and take on the world renewed. Happy road tripping!

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