Questions to ask yourself.

From A to B: So many options.

What might be second nature to seasoned travellers could seem like a daunting task for those setting out on a road trip for the first time. Some lucky people grew up on the back seat of their parents’ car while other may have never had the opportunity to leave the city or town they grew up in. Some folks are born explorers who will head into the unknown it the blink of an eye while others find it difficult to leave their comfort zone without meticulous planning.

I hope the next two posts will help inexperienced road trippers to take their first steps while also offering some useful tips to seasoned travellers.

The wide open road – what road trips are all about.

A recurring question.

Take a look at any travel group on social media and a common question asked is something along the lines of “We are planning to drive from A to B, any suggestions?”

This is such a vague question that, as much as I’d like to help, I rarely respond. Without knowing anything about the person who’s asking, these are my first thoughts:

  • How much time do you have for the trip?
  • What are your main interests?
  • What type of accommodation do you prefer?
  • What vehicle do you drive?
  • How many in the group?
  • What age group?

Take a moment to work through the list. Hopefully this will help you to come up with a broad outline of form the road trip should take. In Part 2 I’ll give my suggestions on how to create a trip that will be unique and perfectly suited to your personal interests.

Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground. – Judith Thurman

Before setting out remember to take all the members of the trip into consideration. Everyone has different needs and interests and ultimately a successful trip will depend on the enjoyment of everyone. My examples below may be a bit extreme and most will find a happy medium somewhere in between but I’m sure you’ll get the idea.

How much time do you have for the trip?

Obvious but very relevant. Many people try and cram too much into the time available and arrive back home exhausted and with a lot of blurred memories. My advice is to begin your road trip the minute you close the gate at home. Even if your final destination is on the opposite side of the continent, leave yourself enough time to explore along the way. If time is limited then rather try and do a shorter trip or postpone the trip till you have more time available. For example, skip your annual leave for one year and combine those days with the next year’s days to double the time available. To retain your sanity plan nearby weekend getaways in between the longer expeditions.

What are your main interests?

Are you a city-slicker or a bush-baby? Collecting antiques, tasting fine cuisine, checking out boutique fashion outlets. Hiking up remote peaks, cycling along forest paths, swimming below a waterfall. Photography, birding, the big five, history, arts and culture. Cocktails at a famously popular beach club or a cold beer alone on the beach. Decide what’s important and plan the stops accordingly.

What type of accommodation do you prefer?

Camping, self-catering, fully-catered. Low budget or money-is-no-problem. Bush or city? It’s unlikely you’ll find a campsite in the centre of a big city and likewise a five-star hotel in the middle of nowhere.

What vehicle do you drive?

A supercar with almost zero ground clearance but begging for burnout on a long straight highway. A people-carrier with limited ground clearance. A go-anywhere 4×4. Any one of these could make for an epic road trip but the chosen route will be different. If you’re towing a caravan or luggage trailer, keep this in mind too.

How many people in the group?

Road trips can take many forms.

Some folks enjoy their own company and prefer to travel alone. Others can’t leave home if they’re not in a convoy of like-minded people. Small groups can be more spontaneous and change plans on the fly. Big groups need to plan ahead and pre-book accommodation that can fit the whole group.

What age group?

The ages of individuals in the group could possibly impose some restrictions. Consider the needs of infants and young ones. Older folks may also have different requirements. Ladies will always appreciate regular pit-stops with clean facilities. Try and plan each day’s activities and distances to accommodate these needs.

Road trip of a different kind.

By now it should be obvious that a road trip can take on many different forms. Considering the above will go a long way towards a successful road trip that will make memories to last a lifetime. I can also guarantee that one successful road trip will get you addicted and you’ll probably be planning the next one before you even get home.

In How to plan a road trip: Part 2 I tell you how I find interesting places, how I create a route to include these places and how I choose my accommodation.

Part 2


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