Wanderlust calling: how to plan the perfect road trip

road triproad trip
road triproad trip

Wanderlust calling: how to plan the perfect road trip

Setting out on the open road for a road trip can be a thrilling experience. You will see parts of the country you may never have heard of, and see sights that you once only dreamed of seeing. However, planning a road trip can be difficult if you do not know where to start. Below is some useful advice for those who hear the call of wanderlust and are ready to answer it.


Have the right vehicle

There are plenty of high quality, pre-owned cars available for you to choose from for your road trip, if your current car does not fit the bill. You will need to find one which best suits your needs, depending on what type of trip you are planning to take.

If you are planning on going on a tour of a city, you will need a car which can handle city traffic easily, such as a small hatchback with power steering. If you are looking to go on an exciting off-road adventure, you will need at least a 4x4 or a large bakkie. Be sure that whatever  car you choose, you are able to fit all of your necessary items inside such as clothing and food.


Plan your routes before you leave

This is a very important step in your planning journey, as not knowing your exact routes can lead to a disorganised and unpleasant road trip. You will need to be sure that everyone who is joining you on the road trip is on the same page about where and when to stop, in order to make it fun for everyone involved.  

You could use an app to plan out your route and add in all the stops. Some apps allow you to save trips and edit them as you see fit. Use these apps to help you to calculate fuel costs, time and distance. Planning your route is also a safety net as you will not get lost and you will be able to plan out how many road snacks you will need along the way.


Bring a real map with you

Even with the invention of GPS on phones and satellite navigators, having a real, paper map with you is essential. You may enter an area with little to no signal, and may become lost due to your GPS not working, and so a paper map is insurance against getting lost.

If you are bringing children with you on your road trip, they can spend their time reading the map and learning about the different places you may stop off at, providing educational car entertainment. The navigator reading the map may even surprise you with a unique itinerary change, based on what they find on the map.


Allow for spontaneity

While it is highly important to have a plan set out is enjoying the ability to be spontaneous. You will need to be open to allowing for some detours on your road trip if someone spots a sign leading to a unique site or if there are roadworks which could change your route slightly.

Try not to worry too much about sticking to a plan too rigidly as this may cause conflict in the car among your fellow travellers, and can cause extra stress. Having loose plans is ideal for those times when you see an exciting roadside attraction that you may not have known about before setting off on your trip. Be sure that you keep to schedule, however, if you have booked hotel rooms for specific nights.


Keep your budget in mind

Driving to a destination can cost you significantly less than flying there, but it does also come with hidden costs. You can use a travel calculator or a fuel cost calculator to plan out exactly how much you are going to be spending on the trip.

Be sure to factor in any fun activities that you will be doing on the trip and always include food and drink as a large part of the budget, especially if you are going to be taking children along with you. It is important to pack healthy snacks for kids on road trips, as feeding them sugary treats from roadside garages will lead to sugar spikes, making them too energetic to spend time cooped up in a car for hours on end. Packing your own food is also highly cost-efficient.


Plan stops frequently

One of the most important things you can do as a driver on a long road trip is to stop frequently. Driving while tired is as dangerous as driving while drunk, so be sure to fit in as many stops as you possibly can. This will allow you to rest and stretch your legs so you do not become fatigued.

If your travel companions are fellow adults, you can use these pit stops to spend time away from each other, as spending hours cramped in a car together can be claustrophobic. Go for a short jog or walk around the petrol station you may have stopped at. Movement helps to fuel brain activity which is essential for anyone who is going to be driving for hours on end.

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