Most people prefer driving themselves on a holiday as it allows them to travel at their own desired pace. Travellers also get to immerse in unrivalled scenery without having hoards of tourists obstructing their views, or a tour guide rushing them to move on to the next destination.
While driving on a holiday may be an enticing idea and coveted for its unlimited freedom, a lot of preparations actually have to be made way in advance to ensure a smooth trip. Many first-timers find themselves in a state of shock by the various setbacks they face due to their negligence in handling unforeseen circumstances. These issues are usually seemingly minor, but they result in panicky situations which could be otherwise avoided if proper planning was done.
To ensure a pleasant journey when you drive on a road trip, here are 10 things you should consider before embarking on a road trip.
#1 IS DRIVING THE IDEAL CHOICE?
To drive or not to drive – that is the first and foremost question. With so many other transportation options available, you may be surprised that a flight or train to your desired destination may actually be cheaper than driving. Remember to bear in mind the cost of car rental, fuel and the most priceless commodity – time.
For instance, the car journey from Melbourne to Sydney takes approximately 9 hours. Yet Australian domestic planes allow you to fly from Melbourne to Sydney at an average of A$100.
#2 SELECTION OF CAR RENTAL COMPANY
Selection of car rental gets really tough when there are so many options to choose from. But with convenient websites such as Sky Scanner and Compare & Choose, you get to compare the price differences between several well-established car rental companies.
If the price differences are insignificant, you should look up on which company’s location is most convenient for you to pick up and drop off the rented car.
#3 EXTRA ADMIN COSTS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT
Do take note that there may be certain additional administrative fees that may take you by surprise. For example, young drivers under 25 years old have to pay a surcharge of AUD 16.50 and AUD 27.50 per day for Hertz and Thrifty respectively.
The loss of your GPS and other car accessories are usually not covered by insurance. Budget charges AUD 495 (excluding an additional admin fee and GST) in the case of a lost GPS. In addition, premium car rental locations such as Sydney airport will set you back an extra 28.5% in fee.
#4 GPS AND OTHER MAPS
Do make sure you have both a GPS in the car and a physical map if you are driving to a place that is really far out. Having a fully-charged smart phone with the reliable Google Maps application will also be a handy back-up.
#5 ROUTE YOUR JOURNEY
It is best to route your journey beforehand to have a rough idea on how long the road trip will take, as well as when and where it is ideal for fuel pit stops in between. This is to avoid the mishap of being stranded in the middle of nowhere when your vehicle runs out of petrol and there are no gas stations nearby.
Trip Tik Travel Planner mobile app can effectively compare the prices across various gas stations to help you decide which path to take for the most cost-effective manner (only valid for United States). If you are traveling around the U.S. and wish to stop from time to time to catch the amazing scenery or other interesting attractions, download the app RoadTrippers – it will assist you in searching the best spots to stop.
If the drive is going to be an arduous journey of at least five hours, you definitely need food to keep you and your passengers (if any) going. Do you intend to stash food in the car or do you intend to stop by restaurants to recharge your energy levels?
If preparation and storage of food is too much of a mess, download the app TVFoodMaps to help you locate the nearest eateries during your drive. Restaurants are extremely scarce in the vast space outside of the city so do prepare or risk a growling tummy!
#7 WEATHER CONDITIONS
Are you dressed comfortably for the long journey ahead and is your car fitted accordingly for the weather? If you do intend to drive up the snowy mountains, fitting of snow chains is essential for safety measures. If you are not confident of driving in a foreign climate, perhaps it is best to hire an experienced chauffeur/ join a guided tour instead of risking your lives.
Never underestimate the power of music. Preparing a long playlist of your favourite melodies will help you tremendously in keeping awake and continuing with the immensely long drive. It will also definitely liven up the mood – and who knows, that particular song might just be the soundtrack of your summer holiday!
#9 2ND DRIVER
Are you and your companions taking turns to steer the driver’s wheel? These arrangements should be planned prior to the actual road trip, so that each of you get ample rest to focus on driving. Car rental companies do charge extra fees for each additional driver too. Avis, Budget and Enterprise, however, do waive off that fee in the event if the second driver happens to be your spouse.
Last but not least, it is crucial to ensure you have a certified driving license recognised by the country that you are driving in. Every country and car rental company has their own rules to abide. In Australia, an English-written driving license accompanied with a photo is the typical bare minimum requirement. You would also have to be at least 21 years old to rent a car.
About the writer:
Hui Jun Ng is a staff writer for ladyironchef. She previously worked in the food and marketing industry. She loves traveling and enjoys exploring underrated destinations. In her free time, you will find her indulging in coffee and her all time favourite local dish – bak chor mee.