What is a Road Trip and How to Prepare?

17th March, 2023, in Travel Advice & Guides

A road trip can be an exciting experience, whether going solo, as a couple or taking the whole family. The chance to explore places off the beaten track, stay in remote locations or simply head from place to place checking out the attractions provides a trip full of memories.

To fully enjoy it though, you will need to plan. There is not much in use getting halfway across a country or crossing a border only to realise you don’t have the correct visa or sufficient equipment should you have a breakdown.

To ensure your road trip gives you the benefits you are looking for, you should consider planning well in advance. This could range from where you are going, to whether you need a car hire excess insurance policy. But that is not all, there are many things you should be considering before starting up the car and heading out into the great unknown.

What is a road trip?

Perhaps you have been toying with the idea of a road trip for some time but are not sure of the best option to suit your needs. For some, a road trip is an almost nomadic existence, sleeping under the stars, travelling via a campervan and exploring the lesser-known parts of a country that has been high on the bucket list.

For others, a road trip can be an experience taking you from city to city or state to state, taking on board a host of activities, cultures, and excitement. Enjoyed solo, with friends, as a couple, or with the whole family, who you travel with should play a large part in what type of road trip you go on.  Young children, for example, may not feel comfortable heading across the Australian outback but might love the vibrant tourist havens the USA has to offer. On the other hand, a group of friends may bond and gain more enjoyment out of spontaneous travel with no real idea of what the trip may hold.

Either way, you need to plan and that is where the following steps come in handy to make sure that whomever you travel with, your road trip provides you all with what you want.

Preparing for a road trip

Any road trip can throw up a host of surprises so be prepared to improvise where necessary. In some cases, plans you may have had set in stone before you left could have been scuppered due to unforeseen events. This is the beauty of a road trip, you do not always have to necessarily be tied down to one area or timescale. This allows you to make last-minute changes that still give everyone something to enjoy. However, without a knowledge of the area, those last-minute plans may not always be able to get made.

Decide on a road trip destination

Before deciding that a road trip is what you want to do, decide on a destination. The spontaneity of a road trip is exciting but simply heading to a country with no idea of the driving laws, the attractions and potentially the customs could see you in a spot of bother before you even arrive. Once you have a destination in mind, research to see what there is to do that matches the aims of your trip. Just be prepared with backup ideas should weather, national holidays or other such events get in the way.

Shop around for a hire car

In most cases, you will be looking to secure a hire car. You could take your own but if your chosen destination is a long-haul one, let’s say America, Australia or the Far East, a hire car is certainly the best option. This could also be the same if you plan to head to Europe, a long ferry journey rather than a quick flight may not be as appealing so picking up a hire car could well suit you best. If this is the case and you plan to visit more than one country, you should find car hire companies that allow cross-border travel.

Get car hire excess insurance secured

Now that you have booked a hire car, it would be worth making sure the correct insurance is in place. Companies like Direct Car Hire Excess provide drivers with rental car excess insurance that protects them from costly excess fees often associated with car hire. This can be especially beneficial if the use of the car is higher than average.

Clean and maintain your car

If you have chosen to use your car you will want it in the best possible condition to ensure it is up to the task ahead of it. If you are hiring a car, the provider should have given the car a check-over and made sure it is fully roadworthy before you travel.

Check the following:

  • Oil level
  • Tyre Pressure
  • Battery
  • Hoses
  • Belts
  • Brakes
  • Air filter

Always feel within your rights to ask for the same to be checked when renting a car.

You should also clean the interior of the car to ensure you can be best prepared for packing. It’ll help you reduce the risk of losing things.

Understand the driving laws in the country you are visiting

Many countries have varying driving laws to what we may be used to in the UK, so it is worth getting an understanding of what keeps you on the right side of the law when abroad. Countries that drive on the left for example are relatively low in number but it pays to know if they share the same side of the road as us. Likewise, European speed limits should be learnt and respected as if you break them you could find a stern punishment coming your way. In most cases, your driving license and passport will be sufficient ID and they should always be with you when on a road trip, however, some countries will require you to hold an international driving permit too so check this as well as the general driving laws too.

Plan to share the driving

The time spent on the road could be long and tiring, when planning your trip, where possible, break it into sections where drivers are swapped. This alleviates tiredness and as a result, could prevent an accident. It also means the new driver allows the new passenger to nap, check the sights or just play around on their phone!

Factor in breaks for drivers too, driving in another country can require more concentration so tiredness can hit much quicker. It is recommended that at least a 15-min break is taken every 2-3 hours.

Pack road trip essentials

The time spent on the road can be long in between destinations so packing some essential bits of kit can help stave off boredom, keep your energy up and keep you safe. Make a pack that contains the following, and you can make the time on the road a lot smoother:

  • Toiletries
  • Warm clothes
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Entertainment (music, games)
  • Sunglasses
  • Prescribed medications

In many cases, your hire car will come prepared with the breakdown essentials that you will need. Should you be taking your car, ensure you are fully kitted out with the items your destination country says you should carry.

Check for the weather and road works

The last thing you want is for the excitement of your trip to be hindered by poor weather or by severe diversions due to road works. Check these in advance of your trip as well as during the trip to ensure a smooth transition from place to place.

If a road trip is how you want to spend your next holiday, ensure you have the most comprehensive holiday car insurance possible with an excess policy from Direct Car Hire Excess. With costs from as little as £0.12 / €0.14 / $0.16 per day, you can enjoy your road trip without fear of a surprise excess charge heading your way should you encounter problems. Contact us today and get a free quote.

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