“What’s your road, man?” asks Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the most famous road trip novel ever written. Kerouac’s novel is about wanderlust and about seeing and experiencing the world in a new way, without the constraints of a fixed abode or a specific place to be. However, you don’t have to be completely fancy-free and devoid of responsibilities to get the most out of a on the road trip, as there are jobs and university courses to return to once the holiday is over.
Above all, it’s a chance to explore the landscape more intimately and to be your own master when deciding how long to stay at each of your chosen stops. For anyone who wants a holiday that’s like no other, where there is a real sense of freedom and spontaneity, a road trip is the way to go.
Planning Your On The Road Adventure
What Do You Want To See?
This is certainly something you need to decide in advance. Even if you’re planning a domestic road trip, there will be plenty of areas that you previously haven’t explored or national heritage sites that are worth checking out. Make a list of ten or twelve places, sites or attraction you definitely want to visit and plan the route around them. However, it’s not just about making good time and checking things off your list. Be prepared to experience the unexpected and make unscheduled stops. It’s usually the unplanned moments that make a holiday memorable.
Choosing Your Travel Companions
It’s probably not a good idea to go on a road trip with people you don’t know very well. Being confined to a car for hours can really test even the strongest friendship. I’d be inclined to choose friends who I knew were both easy-going enough to absorb changes and deviations to the plan, as you will inevitably make them, and organised enough so I didn’t have to shoulder all the practical responsibilities.
Road Trip Etiquette
Don’t let one person do all the driving! They will get very tired, which is dangerous on the road, and may start to feel resentful. Offer to take over driving at short intervals so everyone can take turns. Don’t rely completely on a satnav or smart phone to guide you. Battery issues and lack of signal might leave you without a route, so it’s wise to take a good, old-fashioned paper map, even if you don’t end up using it. Make sure you’re well stocked with plenty of mixtapes and CDs, or invest in a cable that can connect iPods to your car stereo. Listening to local radio can also be a great way of getting to know the places you’re driving through.
Make sure you come prepared with non-perishable snacks and energy bars as they can be easily stored in your vehicle. Petrol stations can be very expensive to buy from, so it’s best to avoid these if you’re on a budget and wait to make a stop at a cheaper supermarket. Branch out from fast food outlets and experience local cuisine; you don’t go on holiday to eat things the same food that’s available at home. Take a detour and find a local restaurant and enjoy something that’s cheaper and probably tastes better than the standard fast food fare. If you want to camp during your trip, a portable grill can really come in handy and provide a great way to spend an evening!
It might sound obvious during your On The Road Adventure, but don’t break the speed limit and wear your seatbelt! It’s also important to make sure your insurance is up to date, whether for your vehicle or for going abroad. The car you’re driving needs to have been serviced regularly and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s under the hood throughout of road trip. No one wants to have their holiday ruined by a breakdown or an accident while they are On The Road.