Planning a Road Trip
Hiring a vehicle is a great option if you would like to travel around different parts of country without having to return to the same place every night. Although using public transport is a cheaper alternative, it is an option best reserved for longer trips where time constraints are less of an issue and where spending long hours travelling on a succession of local buses in order to reach your destination is acceptable. Driving a vehicle is also the most efficient way of visiting a country’s remote areas especially if public transportation to such an area is infrequent or non-existent. Planning a road trip, in many cases, can also be quite fun!
Cheeky Passports’ guide on Planning A Road Trip
Although when travelling a certain level of freedom is always preferable, it usually makes sense to plan stops beforehand, especially in the case of trips which are somewhat short and for which time is limited unless of course you are camping or sleeping in your vehicle. Pre-planning will save you time from searching for impromptu lodging – time is money, and the cost of fuel and rental charge (per day) of the vehicle are budgetary considerations which should be kept in mind. Your best friend and ally whilst planning a road-trip is certainly Google Maps. Its very comprehensive database of roads, cities and attractions are not only freely available but is updated regularly.
Plot Your Course
Plotting your course on Google Maps prior to your trip will give you an indication of the driving distances between way points, whilst also estimating the travelling time required. Do keep in mind that the app calculates such time based on the top speed permissible on those particular roads, hence delays due to traffic or potential road works are not usually accounted for. It’s always a good practice to add on 30% to the time estimate provided by Maps to your itinerary.
Duration between Stops
Determining the optimal stretch between way points is really a matter of personal choice, and should be planned in accordance to personal ability in relation to the whole trip. One has to strike a balance between covering miles and enjoying the surroundings – after all, one of the scopes of a road trip is to enjoy a country’s remote areas which are often scenic and offer great view points.
My personal preference is to try to not exceed 7 hours of driving in one day, and to never drive very long distances on consecutive days, thus alternating between long and short drives. I find the ideal drive time to be no longer than 5 hours. Longer drives should always be divided in phases, with the first phase covering the greater distance (3-4 hours), followed by multiple 2-3 hour drives with breaks in between. Having a co-driver always helps too! Remember that you can plan to have your breaks at sightseeing or scenic spots – they do not merely have to be toilet breaks at the fuel station! Whatever the case, do schedule periodic breaks as this will help your concentration and help you enjoy your adventure even further.
Allow some time to savour the towns or villages you spend your nights at; don’t arrive too late, or alternatively don’t leave too early, and do consider staying on for longer if the place has a lot to offer! It is sometimes hard to fight the temptation of covering long distances and visiting many regions versus enjoying the trip at a slower pace thus visiting fewer places in more depth. Again, this is always a matter of personal preference, and a bit of a sore point between Michelle and I, since we tend to have different opinions regarding how long we spend in any one place. Compromise “sometimes” helps!
Monitor your consumption
An important tip is to never allow your fuel tank to go below the ½ way mark and to ascertain that you have enough fuel reserves for weekends and public holidays if travelling in an area where fuel stations are closed on such days, and sufficient fuel reserves in the case of travel to areas where fuel stations are difficult to find – in some countries, automated fuel stations are not as common as you might think! It goes without saying, this is a very important consideration whist planning a road trip! read more about this in our day trip in Brac, Croatia!