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Road Trips: 10 Tips for a Successful Trip

Empty roads in the Faroe Islands
Empty roads in the Faroe Islands

Road trips are an excellent way to see a country that can leave you with lasting memories.

Popular options among travelers include staying in funky motels along Route 66 in the States, driving around the Balkans, or admiring the eerie landscape of New Zealand's North Island from the seat of a campervan.

After choosing the route of choice, there are a few other things you'll need to consider for a successful road trip. Here are the top ten.

1. Good company

This is a factor that can make or break a road trip.

You'll need to be with people who have the same travel style as yourself – whether that be a car full of type A's or the most easy-going folk you've met in your life.

So, choose your company wisely.

If worst comes to worst, go on your own! There's a reason solo travel hasn't gone out of style.

2. A reliable vehicle

The second most important thing to consider is your mode of transport.

If you're taking a rental car, you need to make sure that it's a car that everyone can drive.

You don't want to rent a manual to discover that no one else can drive a stick.

You'll also want to make sure that everyone in the car is legally allowed to drive it.

It may seem like a good idea at the time to agree to a two-week road trip around Ireland with you driving, as you're the only passenger over the age of 25.

In reality, it'll be exhausting. Yes, I speak from experience.

If you're driving your own or a friend's car, be sure to get it properly checked out by a mechanic before hitting the road.

Make sure at least one traveler has some basic knowledge of car maintenance, just in case you need to change the oil or replace a tire at some point in your trip.

Oh, the places you'll stay (photo: Nicolas Henderson)
Oh, the places you'll stay (photo: Nicolas Henderson)

3. A playlist

There's going to be times when you'll run out of things to talk about or refuse to play yet another game of “I Spy.”

In these moments, you're going to want a kick-butt playlist to fall back on.

Make sure that it's songs that everyone in the car can agree upon.

If one of your travel companions is into slasher music, it wouldn't be fair to subject them to Beyonce's Lemonade album in its entirety.

And if you can't find a playlist that you agree on, it should be the driver's choice of tunes. It's only fair.

4. Snacks

You're probably going to be driving for long stretches of time without stopping, so it'd be good to have a few snacks to fall back on if anyone gets peckish.

Make sure you throw a few healthier options in there, like nuts and fruits. Sitting in a car seat for eight hours a day doesn't do much in the way of burning body fat.

5. Sufficient hydration

As with food, opportunities to drink water may be far and few between.

Best to pack a few bottles of water, or even better, fill up a jerry can with water before you go to cut down on plastic waste.

Norway is yet another ideal place for a road trip (photo: TimOve)
Norway is yet another ideal place for a road trip (photo: TimOve)

6. A map

Here's an opportunity to ditch Google Maps for a few days and hone a rapidly dying skill – that of map-reading.

You should be able to pick up a road map at any gas station, which you can refer to for the trip duration. Bonus – it makes a pretty good souvenir for when you reach your destination.

7. A sense of direction

You're not going to have much luck with that map if you don't have some sense of direction to pair with it!

If you have no set timeframe for your trip, it could be quite fun to go with your gut now and then. It could take you to the most surprising of places.

8. Enough cash for petrol and food

Although many of us live in cashless societies these days, this isn't the case for many countries worldwide.

As the places you'll be stopping along the road will be most unpredictable, make sure that you have a reasonable amount of cash on you for emergencies – such as if you're close to running out of gas and the only service station around doesn't take a card.

9. A first aid kit

It's best to be ready for every and any situation that may arise on your journey.

Be sure to bring a basic first aid kit. Pack in paracetamol, ibuprofen, bandages, insect repellant, and motion sickness pills, just in case.

10. Sweaters and swimsuit

If you're covering a long distance on your trip, you should probably prepare for all kinds of weather.

Bring a sweater, or even a jacket, to prepare for sudden drops in temperature at night, even if it's the middle of summer.

Don't forget to pack a swimsuit in case you happen upon an attractive looking body of water – particularly if you're road tripping in Australia or on the West Coast of the USA.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Tom Carney

Friday 13th of January 2017

Excellent list. Additions? How about a notebook/journal? If for nothing else it can be used to record details about photographs taken. Will help jog the memory as the trip fades into history.

LC Haughey

Saturday 14th of January 2017

Additions are welcome! Good idea. I love travel journaling, too, for exactly that reason.


Monday 9th of January 2017

Good list! I did a 3-week road trip up through western USA & into Canada over the summer, and it was so much fun - and definitely good company! We also had a book club arrangement for the trip, so before we went, we read books set in various places along our route, and then we discussed them during the trip when we ran out of other things to talk about. We also stopped in a little second-hand book shop about halfway through the trip, and bought a smut book for about $2, which turned out to be a hilarious addition to the road trip, as we took turns reading chapters aloud on the journey!

LC Haughey

Monday 9th of January 2017

I like the idea of a book club, will have to remember that one! I bought secondhand books travelling around Ireland a few years ago, none of them were smut books though. Am filled with regret now, when thinking of the laughs we might have had!

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