Road trips are a great way to take in the sights and enjoy each country at a leisurely pace. Despite not being the most luxurious mode of transport, some of the world’s most breathtaking places are best traveled by car – the Cowboy Trail in Canada, Iceland’s Ring Road, and the Wild Atlantic Way up the Western Coast of Ireland to name just a few. Sleeping in your car is also ideal for traveling on a budget and, with the right preparation, needn’t be too much of a rough ride.
1. Prepare your Motor
Priority number one should be making sure that your car is fit for the trip, and not just a quick once-over the day before you leave – check all the vitals in plenty of time to make any necessary repairs. Crucial things to look out for include making sure the air filter is in peak condition, ensuring all lights are in working order, and checking tire pressure and battery life. It may also be a good idea to replace your exhaust components from a place like this, as these are crucial for reducing toxic emissions and those ominous engine noises. If your car is especially old, it’s definitely worth getting a mechanic to check it over before you set off.
2. Know the Rules
Navigating the roads of an unfamiliar country can be nerve-wracking even for the most experienced drivers, so getting to know the rules is essential. Each country has its own safety laws and driving customs, and may also have additional requirements for overseas drivers, such as a country sticker or an International Driving Permit. France, for example, requires motorists to carry a breathalyzer, and in certain places you’ll need to fit “beam benders” to your headlights. Checking the rules before you travel is the simplest way to avoid unnecessary fines (or any trouble) on the roads, and ensures the drive is exactly as it should be – relaxing and enjoyable.
3. Pack Wisely
Last but not least, packing for your road trip should be geared towards practicality and comfort. A sat-nav is a must, as is a physical atlas, jump leads, a spare tire and a first aid kit. Also pack plenty of water and dry snack food, as well as pillows and blankets for those all-important naps. As you’ll be spending long stretches in the car, it’s important not to over-pack – try to strike the right balance between prepared and cramped. Designating certain compartments – or boxes – to each group of items makes it easier to find what you need on a pit-stop. Ready for the open road? Here are some ultimate road trip routes from the National Geographic.