What’s more traditional than going on a roadtrip with your family? Sure, waking up at the crack of dawn and shambling into the car is a pain for most passengers. The smell of bacon and eggs at your first food stop more than makes up for it. And don’t forget the excitement of packing your phone full of roadtrip songs and stopping at fantastic places en route. But if you only road-tripped as a child, you may be unaware of all the preparation that went into getting everything.
Thanks to the stress and mundanity of the always-connected modern-day life, hopping in your car after work and taking a spontaneous road trip can be a fun exercise. Or even to go check out that used VW Polo for sale in another town. Though don’t expect to get too far without a few key items. Do you really want to arrive in Knysna at 1am and not have a place to stay or even your toothbrush? And is your car able to make the long journey without being serviced first?
Here are a few ways to prepare for your long-awaited road trip.
Have your car serviced
Much like anyone else travelling with you, the car is an important and integral part of the road trip. After all, it’s going to get you to your destination and back (hopefully in one piece). This means in needs to be looked after and inspected before you hit the long open road for your vacation. Take it to a mechanic to have the oil changed, filters checked, and wheels aligned. You’ll also need to have your tyres checked and make sure they have enough tread for the journey.
Apart from having it serviced, be sure that all of the small things that need to be looked at are done. Are your lights and windscreen wipers okay and in working order? Do you have enough wiper fluid? The car should also be washed to not only give it that fresh feeling, but to remove dirt that would reduce visibility. And, as a bonus, clean out the inside of the car and spray some air freshener to make it smell like new.
Your insurance and medical aid should also be sorted out and up to date. If anything goes wrong on your trip, you’ll need the option of calling a tow truck, locksmith, or ambulance.
Plan out the route
In order to be safe and secure, plan out your route accordingly. Which roads will you take and where will you stop out? Which way has the best sightseeing attractions and which will get you there as fast as possible? How safe will the backroads be?
While most phones have a built in GPS – of which Google Maps will help you along the way – or you own a dedicated GPS, having a map book is essential. It may seem like an outdated way of navigating, but if the battery on your phone dies you’ll still need to figure out where you are and where you’re going.
Tell someone reliable about all of the roads you’ll be taking. In case of an emergency, they’ll be able to help out.
Have a place to stay
Regardless of where you go, you’re going to need a place to stay. While crashing on the couch of a friend or relative is always useful, not everyone has that luxury. And driving for hours through the night to reach somewhere new is not advised at all. Rather don’t try to save costs by sleeping in your car as you won’t be fully rested the next day. You need good sleep to be ready for the next leg of your journey.
Be sure to book a place to stay in advance, even if it’s just an AirBnB or a hostel on your trip. Not everyone needs to stay in a fancy hotel. Anything will do, really, as long as you have a place to rest, sleep, and clean yourself off from a day of driving.
It doesn’t matter how many credit cards you have, cash is still king. Cards become useless in serious emergencies or power outages. You should be carrying around some cash, which consists of a few hundred Rand notes and some coins. This can be used to pay for snacks, toll roads, or if you find yourself in a pinch.
These are just a few ways to prepare for your road trip. Make sure you’re safe and comfortable at all times, and obey all of the traffic rules. You don’t want to receive a traffic fine in the post a few weeks later.