Travel on the road: useful tips before leaving

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Author Alessandro 20 April 2021
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Begin a journey on your favorite song notes with new landscapes that follow one another. It is traveling on the road: a unique and exciting experience.

Few things evoke a sense of freedom like traveling on the road. More than seventy years after On the Road di Jack Kerouac the thrill of a road trip has remained the same.

The ** road trip ** is the travel where what matters is not the destination, but the journey itself.

It is not simply switch off but the desire to get lost, to know and to discover. It is the freedom to observe closely without being bound by anything or anyone. It is the pleasure of the unexpected.

A day, a month, a year or a lifetime. Travel time is what you want, moving when and where you want, until you decide to go home.

Why choose to travel on the road?

Traveling on the road is a thrill unknown to ordinary tourists. It means living the place and the moment.

There is you, your vehicle, the surrounding environment and the right company.

Get away from the superfluous, breaking the monotony in one adventure after another.

No other way of traveling can give you these sensations.

When you travel traditionally you have to rely on others, respecting schedules and prepackaged itineraries.

A road trip, on the other hand, is only yours, no waiting at the airport, no one who decides what time you have to leave, how long you can stop and when it’s time to go home.

If you choose to travel on the road you can do what you want. No other type of travel gives you this possibility.

Choose to travel during the day or in the middle of the night, to drive for hours or stop for a long time, to explore hidden gems avoiding touristy places.

But every road trip you face, no matter how prepared and organized you are, will bring with it unforeseen events and problems.

Getting lost in the middle of nowhere, puncturing a tire, arriving by chance on a deserted bay or in an uninhabited town, having to ask the local inhabitants for help.

Once resolved, however, these inconveniences become anecdotes to tell to friends and relatives, which we remember with nostalgia.

Freedom of movement

Want to travel? Just leave!

A journey along the streets of a country is the best way to get to know it by getting in touch with the local population.

But it also allows you to push yourself into places that are difficult or impossible to reach by other means, such as the train and plane.

The road trip is independence and total freedom.

Traveling on the road means moving, not to reach a single destination, but through a path that allows you to visit multiple places in the same journey.

And if you decide to change a stop at the last minute or if, on the contrary, you want to stay longer in one place, you can do it, because you have no one to account for.

Freedom of movement, travel on the road

Freedom of timetable

And as for places, freedom also applies to timetables: traveling on the road on your means of transport means not having to comply with the timetables inevitably imposed by planes, trains, hotels and restaurants.

How to organize a road trip

Print maps, itineraries, photos of the places, hotel timetables, rest areas, laws and more as well as a checklist with all the things you will need to do before the trip, for the trip and what you will need to bring with you.

Order everything by estimating distances, times, costs, stops for each day and considering a possible deviation from the estimates of 20/30%.

What to bring on a road trip

The luggage choice must not be overlooked when traveling on the road.

For the person:

  • use a trekking backpack for what you will use most often always want to carry with you,

  • trolleys are great for clothes and other items,

  • smaller cases can be used to hold personal items, such as soaps, toothpaste, toothbrush and towels,

  • a good supply of water. The ideal is to store the water at the bottom and away from sunlight, leaving only one bottle out from time to time.

For navigation:

  • satellite navigator: surely you’ll have a smartphone with a sim enabled for internet browsing, so you will have no problems using the navigator: the European Union has enabled free roaming between the various European states and you can use your smartphone as a GPS navigator. If your road trip will be outside Europe and you have an EU internet plan or you will travel in places with poor internet coverage, buy a real navigator that does not require an internet connection: now you can find excellent quality navigators even for less than € 100 on Amazon,

  • paper road maps: they allow you to have a more truthful idea of ​​the places and distances to travel. It is advisable to have both paper maps and GPS because the GPS may not work or break, with the map instead you have the possibility to always know where you are,

  • GPS Tracking and Reporting Device. If you are traveling in remote areas, get a satellite message system. If necessary, along with the message, your GPS position will be transmitted to a preset contact.

** For safety on the vehicle **:

  • first aid kit,

  • spare wheel,

  • Tire Repair Kit,

  • necessary equipment in the event of an accident or breakdown of the vehicle: triangles and reflective jackets, fire extinguisher,

  • winter tires or chains, if you plan to cross snowy or icy roads,

  • spare bulbs for the headlights.

Keep in mind that the space occupied by the initial luggage will certainly be added to the space for food (even if you always want to eat at the restaurant it is good to have a certain reserve of water and food) and possibly that for other things you may want to buy.

Never leave your luggage in sight inside your vehicle. Try to keep them all closed in the trunk or on the rear seats covered with a cloth or in the cell of the vehicle if you are traveling in a camper or caravan.

Those traveling by motorbike should bring the bare minimum, trying to wash clothes whenever they have the opportunity.

Improvisation or Planning

Impromptu adventure or planned exploration?

Some decide to go on an adventure aimlessly and improvising everything: generally those who do so have lot of time and experience.

Others prefer a journey studied and organized down to the smallest detail.

Most of the travelers on the road, however, choose organizing the destinations and the time but leaving space for improvised adventures.

Where to go

The place to go is the first step.

If you don’t already have an idea, you can take a cue from someone else’s trip, from itineraries and journals on the internet, and add stops along the way whenever you encounter something interesting.

Road trip in Iceland
Road trip in Iceland

Plan the stages

The next step in choosing the country is that of the stages.

I recommend you start with Google Maps, to have a map that offers both an overall and a detailed view.

Choose the stages and establish the route that best suits you without going back to the same points.

Once you have chosen the main stops, check everything near the roads you are going to travel. Attractions, places of historical interest, natural parks: consider whether it is worth extending to reach these secondary stops.

Many also decide to leave without a destination or perhaps choosing only the main stages to travel on the road in complete freedom.

However, consider that if it might be a good idea for 2 or 3 people, getting too many ideas to agree is not always easy.

Calculate time and kilometers

Time together with the budget is the key element in organizing any trip. Never keep too tight with the times and above all do not overdo it with the kilometers. Unforeseen events can happen at any time: traffic, works, closed roads.

Although a lot depends on each person, my advice is not to exceed 350/450 km per day. By increasing the kilometers too much you risk being too tired and to enjoy the places you are going to explore.

By keeping up with the times you will instead have the opportunity to improvise new destinations that you had not planned, or spend more hours in places that particularly fascinate you.

Hours of light

Without knowing the exact hours of light of the place where you are traveling you will find it very difficult to estimate the amount of kilometers that can actually be traveled in a day and you will risk reaching the last stage of the day having many hours of light left or on the contrary too late. .

Flexibility

Deciding how flexible your schedule will be is up to you alone.

However, consider that a stage can have many things to see by slowing down the march, others may be less interesting than we expected or present problems relating to access and therefore require less time than expected.

How to choose the means of transport

The means to travel on the road are many, for all budgets and needs.

You can travel on foot, bicycle, tent, motorbike, car, car tent, tent trailer, caravan, van, converted van, camper, hotel, train, plane. Each category of means has advantages and disadvantages.

In addition to your personal needs, the route and the territory, the time of year and the climate must be taken into consideration.

Another very important factor in the road trip is that of time, which varies considerably according to the vehicle used.

** Traveling by car ** allows, in the face of less comfort and autonomy, a deeper exploration of the places during the journey and a good speed of travel and does not require to stop in case of bad weather or roads impossible to travel with means of considerable size and weight.

With heavier vehicles such as ** campers and caravans **, on the contrary, you travel more comfortably, you always have a bed, a kitchen and a bathroom at your disposal, and you can travel in places and seasons with high or low temperatures. However, these vehicles can be impediments to crossing particularly narrow or unpaved roads, as well as encountering various prohibitions.

The best compromise in my opinion - and it is the means I chose in the end after having tried them all - is the equipped van, that is a van properly prepared for traveling and living.

Whatever your choice, if you leave home by moving with your own vehicle you will greatly limit expenses and problems, especially those related to renting a vehicle.

Most insurance companies offer a cheap tow truck service combined with RC car valid throughout Europe and in some non-EU countries. I highly recommend that you include it in your policy, especially if you are traveling in an outdated vehicle, and that you always have your emergency number on hand.

If, on the other hand, you want to opt for distant countries and outside Europe, using your own vehicle can be excessively inconvenient due to the high costs and boarding times.

Road trip by Camper to Torrevieja, Spain
Road trip by Camper to Torrevieja, Spain

Rental vehicles

If you travel on a paved road during the hot season, an ordinary car will usually suffice.

In the case of icy roads or road surfaces in bad conditions, it is necessary to move towards a vehicle with four-wheel drive.

In Europe, a small or medium-sized vehicle is likely to be sufficient, on the contrary, if you are planning to cross Africa, South America or the Asian steppes, a heavy vehicle with large load capacities could be what you need.

Rental conditions

The companies that rent cars and campers tend to sell additional insurance packages, often these are useful and convenient options, which allow for a small surcharge to enjoy complete coverage against accidents and breakdowns, damage and vandalism.

Beware of fares that are too advantageous. Check if the contract imposes a limit in the daily kilometers that can be traveled and if it is allowed to drive the vehicle also to third parties as well as by the person who signed the contract. Check any deductibles, their amount and the price of the theft and kasko clauses.

Once you have the different quotes you can print them and compare them.

The most common problems

If you want to experience the journey as an adventure, you don’t have to plan everything, but there are some aspects that must be seriously considered and analyzed before leaving.

Mechanical problems and driving precautions

The most common risks are related to the vehicle: roads, mechanical problems and accidents.

  • When you leave, make sure that the car is in its best condition.

  • Check the state of the roads you are going to travel on when planning your road trip, gathering as much information as possible: traveling on a US state road is not the same as traveling on one in India.

  • Always pay full attention to the road and drivers around you. If this is true every time you start driving, it is especially important on a road trip where many kilometers are covered in a short time.

Think as if those driving around you could commit the riskiest maneuver and always try to prevent the harmful consequences.

  • Stop your veicle if you’re tired.

Read

Before embarking on a trip abroad, it is essential to inquire about the laws.

The most important are those relating to the behavior to be followed on the road, the freedoms allowed and any unsecured freedoms or serious crimes that are not considered as such in our country (this is especially true for non-EU countries that have judicial systems and punish totally different behaviors), to the temporary introduction of non-native plants and domestic animals.

As far as traffic is concerned, for example, it is important to find out about road laws, emergency numbers, tolls and motorways.

Some examples. In France, the flashing yellow traffic light often replaces green light, even during the day and in built-up areas. In Germany, in case of bottling, cars are arranged in such a way as to allow any emergency vehicles to pass centrally. In the United States, it is also possible to turn right at the red light giving priority to those coming from the road with a green light.

Some examples relating to criminal law, unsecured freedoms and severely punished behavior in non-EU countries.

Currently 33 states including China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Singapore provide for the death penalty for drug-related offenses. Others such as the Philippines do not formally provide for it but extrajudicial execution is believed to be largely practical.

Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan provide for the death penalty for adultery (in some states only for women).

12 countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen) provide for the death sentence for [apostasy] (https: // en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostasia “Apostasy on Wikipedia”).

In 7 countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Pakistan) the death penalty is foreseen for the crime of blasphemy, and this offense includes showing freedom of thought.

Regarding the introduction of animals, in most of European countries (such as France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Croatia, Malta) the introduction of dogs belonging to certain breeds considered dangerous or without pedigree is a serious crime.

In some of these countries, including Great Britain, Croatia and Malta, in addition to the possible arrest of the person who holds the animal, the animal will be confiscated and killed.

Safety and health

When you decide to go on a road trip, especially if you are outside your own country, you need to be well informed about everything and write down useful numbers such as the police, health emergency and embassy numbers.

If you go to countries where health is not free, take out health insurance before leaving. Traveling increases the chances of accidents and it is good to be prevented in case of physical damage, without medical insurance you could find yourself without treatment in countries where health is private.

Costs

Contrary to what one might think, traveling on the road is not the cheapest solution.

With the last minute we have become accustomed to transnational airline tickets that cost less than 100 euros and with a not much greater expense we can now cross entire continents.

To get an idea of ​​the costs of a trip on the road it is necessary to consider that only for the costs of fuel and food, traveling an average of 300 km per day in a European country you can get to spend over 2000 euros in a month.

To these must be added the extra expenses such as costs of hotels, campsites or rest areas, costs of restaurants, costs for attractions, tolls.

How to save

If you travel by car or motorbike, you can save money by booking rooms at the last minute via the internet.

If you travel by camper you can stay overnight in the areas where parking is allowed for free. With the van it is generally possible to stay overnight anywhere for free and freely.

The cost of fuel is often the most expensive element of any road trip. If you want to limit its incidence, you need to consider the distances to be covered, the consumption of the means of transport on which we travel and the number of companions with whom it is done.

The crew

If you opt for a group trip to save money, it is good to carefully choose your travel companions.

Otherwise misunderstandings are highly likely, which can also lead to friendship ends.

If we really want to travel in company, it is better to find someone who shares our travel idea and spend a few days together before making a decision.

My advice is that every family travels with their own vehicle.

Spaces problems and for discrepancies can easily occur during the trip.

In my opinion, a very pleasant and interesting experience can be that of traveling in convoys, as long as everyone respects the environment and the people around.

It is a great way to explore and allows you to stop and stay overnight even in places that we may not have considered safe on our own.

But it is important that in case of serious travel incompatibilities everyone can go their own way, without resentment.

Traveling on the road: conclusion

Traveling on the road whatever the place and the means always gives great and unforgettable emotions.

Have you ever traveled on the road? I advise you to do it, you will not regret it!

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