None is so rich as to throw away a friend.

~ Turkish Proverb ~

Planning A Road Trip

May 5th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 33 secs

Planning a road trip by van? Try travelling light.

Planning a road trip by van? Try travelling light.

The most important part of planning a road trip is where you want to go and how. You can drive a car, take a bus, a recreational vehicle, a motorbike, or even ride a bicycle. But whatever your mode of travel, it’s essential to know where you are heading.

I know this sounds self-evident. Yet, you’d be amazed how many people feel the road should decide for them. Their idea of successfully planning a road trip is simply getting out the front door and going.

Well that might work for you. But I believe the crucial aspect to having a great journey is planning your road trip in advance. Maps, whether paper, GPS (or both) are indispensible, as is a clear idea how long your journey will take and how much it’s going to cost.

In some senses, planning a road trip is much like planning an overseas odyssey. You need to factor in:

  • Reliability of your means of transport
  • Costs for aspects like fuel, parking, and toll ways
  • Accommodation needs and costs
  • Things you want to see and do along the way
  • A realistic meal budget
  • What you need to take clothes wise, as well as any other creature comforts to make the trip more pleasurable
  • Carrying identity paperwork, credit cards, and whatever else is expected to let you travel interstate or internationally
  • A written plan of your itinerary and contact details for folk back home so they can contact you in the event of an emergency
  • Clear arrangements worked out to ensure everything at home is taken care of whilst you are away (no point coming home after a few weeks to find your poor pet is nothing but a sad looking skeleton looking out the window). Having your mail collected, and someone keeping an eye out on your house is also a good for safekeeping your property
  • Writing out a big list of the things you’d like to do is also a great strategy, especially if you plan to only choose some of its options. That way, you can still make things up as you go but in a semi-structured way (in comparison, trying to do everything on an extensive list is an exercise in frustration and exhaustion)
  • Giving yourself downtime to rest and stay longer at places you particularly enjoy along the way. Not only does it make a journey more enjoyable, it means you’ll arrive at the end of your trip not only on time but refreshed.

Planning a road trip with kids calls for extra organization as they have special needs that should to be factored in. Think dawdle time, more frequent rest breaks for toilet stops and playground entertainment to relieve hours of sitting stuck in their seats. Although it takes more time, variety provides much needed psychological relief the children and also you too.

There is no “one way” to travel anymore than there is one way to enjoy a good meal or decorate a room. But thoughtfully planning a road trip will help to reduce needless pressure on you and make the whole journey a more pleasant experience rather than a hit and miss trip where things could potentially go very wrong. Naturally, that can happen anytime. Yet investing effort in arranging your transport, accommodation, comfort, and meals does bring dividends. Not least, in everyone arriving revived, and more engaged through the travel experience.

Finally, plan carefully, but not too much. Over-planning a road trip (or any kind of travel) can turn an adventure into an over-programmed military exercise. So make this your theme: plan to travel and travel to enjoy. Have fun!

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