Tips for a great road trip
I’m a great fan of solo travel but I also enjoy travelling with friends. Looking for travel mates for short, one-week breaks shouldn’t be too difficult but if you’re talking about road trips or anything longer than two weeks, you’re allowed to be more selective than usual.
Remember that because you’ll be spending weeks, maybe months, with this group of people, day in and day out, it makes sense to keep a few things in mind:
1- Pick someone you actually like
You don’t have to be close friends with them, but you should actually like them enough to want to spend time with them. If you cannot stand being with someone for more than 10 minutes, you’re looking for trouble by going on a road trip with him.
2- Play nice
Remember: it works both ways, so you need to work at being a good travel mate as well. Don’t be difficult; if your friend prefers to drive early in the morning, let him. Don’t expect everything to work out as planned and be prepared for your trip to be delayed by things like bad weather, a car breakdown and -okay then- a really bad hangover. In other words, don’t be a pain in the behind.
3- Divide your duties
Making sure that everyone is responsible for something may sound unnecessary, but it isn’t. I’ve been on trips where one single person made all the decisions-food, accommodation, dates of travel, destinations. You’ll be happy in the beginning because you’ll think that a load has been taken off your hands, but you’ll get resentful when you finally realise that you have no say in anything at all. When someone else is calling the shots, it becomes his road trip, not yours. Everyone needs to be in charge of something.
4- Use the Net
There are a whole bunch of resources on the internet relating to road trips. Use Travelmath to calculate travel time and distance and Google Maps for routes. For our drive around America, we looked at RoadTrip America and Road Trip USA for ideas, but there are obviously loads of other sites you can use. If you’re planning a road trip in the US, look out for options to deliver a vehicle from your location to another city, ie. to ‘driveaway’ a car for free, and design your road trip along that route. We did exactly that, and delivered a car for a woman in Los Angeles to her daughter in Boston. Have a look here for more information.
5- Be familiar with the route beforehand
This tip sounds like a no-brainer but its one of the most important. Bearing in mind the large distances you might be covering, always keep track of how much gas you have and where the next town is- you don’t want to be out of gas, at night, and 200 miles away from the next gas station. Try to fill up your tank whenever you see a gas pump because you don’t know how far away the next one will be. This is particularly important, for example, in large, spread-out states like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
A road trip is one of the best ways to get to know a country. You pass through small towns and get to see places you normally wouldn’t if you were on a tour or travelling by train. If you ever get the chance to do a road trip with a good bunch of mates, go.
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