One of mine and Camilla’s favourite ways to travel is by road trip! There is nothing better than having your own wheels and being able to go where you want to go, whenever you want to go. In recent years we’ve done road trips around Sri Lanka, Oman, Bavaria, Norway, Southern Ireland and the east coast of America. These are some of the best trips we’ve ever been on and here we’re going to share how we create these adventures.
If you haven’t got time to plan your own an want a ready made road trip planned out for you… here are some of ours.
Where are you going to go?
First of all you need to decided where you need to go. There is the obvious consideration of where do you want to go, what do want to see, where does your heart desire. But, then theres the more practical questions of;
- Does your driving licence allow you to drive in that country or will you need to apply for a new one?
- What insurance are you going to have to take out to be able to drive there?
- Do you feel comfortable and safe driving there?
Being from England and having a full British Driving Licence means we’re lucky in the fact a lot of places, especially in Europe, accept our licences and it is easy to transfer over when we need to travel further afield. A lot of good companies, like TukTukrentals.com will apply for the change in drivers licence for you as standard or you can pay a little extra to remove the headache, we would highly recommend doing this.
Also, a lot of good companies will include insurance in the price of the rental and luckily we have never had to take out extra insurance on the vehicle. You obviously will need your own personal travel insurance as well though. Double check on this when you’re booking and if the company doesn’t include insurance I would question why and maybe look somewhere else. If they’re not offering insurance what else is your rental missing?
Finally, do you feel comfortable there? Driving in another country in an alien hire car, with road signs not in your own language, potentially on the other side of the road and along roads that may not be up to your own countries standards can sometimes be stressful. There is nothing you want less than to be stressed about driving in the run up to your adventure and then also hate all the driving sections – on a road trip there’s the potential for some pretty long drives. So, if you’re not a confident driver or you think this might have a detrimental impact on your holiday maybe hire a driver or use another form of transport to get around.
What do you want to drive?
Seems like a silly questions and yes 90% of the time the answer to this is going to be a car but trust us it’s something you need to put a lot of thought into.
When we were in Ireland and Norway we hired simple cars, the cheapest ones on register and off we went. We didn’t need anything more than that. We were driving on good roads, so fab.
When we were in America and Oman however we knew we were going to be off-roading a little bit. Especially in Oman, we knew we wanted to stay at a desert camp, it’s one of the things which drew us to the destination so we needed something bigger. Both times we hired 4×4 and yes they were more expensive, but it made our lives so much easier and felt a lot more confident driving.
Camper van? While driving around Bavaria we knew the aim of the trip was nature, nature, nature and we thought why not just go all in and hire a camper van?! It was the most incredible experience. It was probably the trip with the most freedom. The only thing is, it is best to book campsite in advance if you can. We ended up doing a whole lot of ‘wild camping’.
Finally, TukTuk? If you’re going somewhere with a completely different culture, why not drive something completely different. Now, I would say this is probably ‘Advance Road Tripping’ and maybe not the one to start off with. Driving a vehicle which is so completely different to anything you’ve ever driven before is stressful, I’m not going to lie it stressed me out but oh my gosh what an experience!
What do you want to see?
So, when we’re planning a road trip the first thing we decide is what do we want to see when we’re there. Not where shall we go, but what do we want to see, whether its landmarks, towns or seaside resorts, we write down a ‘hit list’.
Normally, we’ve decided on a place because we’ve seen something we want to see, so we’d start off with that. Then we search ‘things to do in Bavaria’ on Google. We look at a number of blog posts on the area, look at Trip Advisor and TimeOut to get more ideas and then we always look at ‘different things to do in Bavaria’.
We also ask any friends that have been before for recommendations, it is always a good source of information. Lastly, our trusty friend Instagram, search ‘Bavaria/ Germany/ Austria’ to help you get that instagram-able shot! We found Topolindra and created an Instagram ‘Saved’ folder for Bavaria.
Once you’ve got your list it’s time to plot a map. Now, we draw a really rough sketch of the country on any old piece of paper and then use Google maps to plot where all the different things we want to see are. This helps you get a really good idea of what landmarks are close to what and it helps you start to group them together and see a rough route starting.
Once you’ve grouped them together you can start to see at how long you need to stay where. If you’ve got five or six things you want to see in one area obviously you’re going to stay there longer than places with only one or two. You know yourself better than anyone and how long you’re likely to stay at a place. Although, Google does give you rough timings of how long people spend at different ‘attractions’ if that helps.
Also, if you don’t really want to go somewhere then don’t go. Don’t waste your precious travel time. Camilla and I just don’t get on with museums. We’ve tried exhibitions yes, historic landmarks yes, but full on generic museums we can’t do. So, even if theres a museum rated incredibly well, we don’t go because we know we’d rather squeeze in an extra hike somewhere. That is the beauty in creating your own road trip. You can do exactly what you want to do.
Plan your route
By this point you’ve done all the hard work, literally! Now, it is just piecing it all together. You’re probably already going to know where you’re want to fly into and where you’re going to be picking up your vehicle from or having it dropped off too. This, more than likely is going to be a big city where a few of your ‘hit list is located’.
What you need to decide now is do you want to explore this at the beginning of your trip or at the end? We normally leave this for the end of our trip. We prefer dropping our vehicle back and having a few relaxing days exploring the city and then not having to worry about dropping back/ catching our flight logistics, which could be added stress if you run into traffic etc. However, this is up to you and whatever works for your timetable.
There should hopefully be quite a clear route from your ‘hit list’ map plotting stage and if there isn’t this is where you might need to get a little cut throat. You might not be able to see all the different things that you want to see. When planning a road trip to Israel (which didn’t end up going ahead due to the dreaded-C-which-shall-not-be-named) we sacrificed Haifa in the north of the country because it didn’t work with our trip. This can suck and if its really important to see maybe you can do an epic day trip from one of your other locations. But, you know how long you’ve got and what is a priority for you.
Now, what you need to decided is which way round do you go. Before deciding this it’s always important to know when attractions are open, are there are festivals you want to catch on your way round. For example, also with the Israel trip we knew we didn’t want to be in Jerusalem for the Easter weekend because it would be too busy so we opted to go the opposite way from what we had originally planned. There’s nothing worse than turning up somewhere and the then thing you most wanted too see is shut. We went through this with the Taj Mahal in India and had to change everything.
Once you’ve decided you’re way round now its time to find out how long the drives are. Again, we just use Google Maps for this. Sometimes things can look teeny tiny on the map and then you realise it’s actually a six hour drive. If you’re driving a camper van or a TukTuk for example take that into consideration because it will likely take you longer than Google Maps says. Ideally I would say you want to keep your drives to no longer than four hours, your on holiday after all. However, we have been guilty to do 6-10 hour drives in Sri Lanka and America, so just do what you think you’ll be happy with.
After this you’ve got your route, you’ve got your locations and all you need to do now is fill in the finer details. Think about what you want to see on what day, when booking hotels make sure that they have parking on site or nearby and parking locations around major sites.
Top Tip: Don’t plan too much. Camilla and I are normally on the go all the time, that is how we like our holidays – Camilla can’t sit still for long. However, when we went to Sri Lanka we might have been guilty of squeezing a little too much in. We were on the go nearly every day and it was the most amazing experience but we didn’t take much time to stop and really appreciate it all.
Companies which we’ve worked with:
4×4 Hire: Budget.co.uk
Camper Van Hire: Roadsurfer
TukTuk Hire: TukTukRental.com