There’s nothing like hitting the asphalt and taking long journeys away from home and discovering places unknown with the freedom and convenience of having a “Truckster and popping on down to Wallyworld” to set your heart on fire.
You can go where you want when you want. You can choose the highways and see the main haunts or you can “choose the back road to your own life,” (wait, that’s not what the song means), and find hidden gems along the way.
You can hike the hills that the tour buses don’t take you too, get up at the asscrack of dawn and find a serene place to see the sunlight wash over the land, or stay up late and watch the stars twinkle in the black vastness of space pondering all of life’s mysteries.
Whether you take the high road or the low road, road trips are an incredible way to experience the world and rejuvenate the soul like nothing else, but they can also be challenging.
With these tips and nuggets of information I’ve got here, I hope to help to in preparing for a road trip that will help take some of the hard parts out of it so there more time spent enjoying the wonders of the world so your journeys may be more auspicious.
Google Maps and Maps.me
When it comes to planning any trip, Google Maps is a Godsend. You can find where places are in the world, discover places you hadn’t come across on the interwebs, view things on ground level or get an aerial view of the landscape with satellite view amongst other things.
But Google Maps isn’t just for observing. You can create your own comprehensive map, pin places of interest, make notes about them and use layers and colour coding to differentiate between different pins.
It’s a powerful tool, but if you’re going somewhere where you can’t get access to the internet, or it’s going to be weak or spotty, all that hard work goes right out the window, and you’ll be up Ship’s Creek without a paddle.
The solution to that is a Maps.me. It is a Godsend’s Godsend. OMG, I love this app fervently and use it frequently. Road trips are SO EASY with this free must-have app.
With it, not only can download the map that you created on Google Maps and make your merry way through the world with it without requiring the internet, it also tracks your every movement, but not in a creepy way.
Depending on your device*, the app’s follows you in real-time which is freaking awesome because it means the probability of you getting hopelessly lost and wasting time and fuel trying to navigate your way back to the path you should have been on is significantly reduced as you can see exactly where you are, so should you miss a turn or make the wrong one, you can correct yourself in a much shorter amount of time.
It’s an incredible app and as well as its amazing offline features, it also sometimes has some attractions that aren’t on Google Maps, so perusing these maps in addition to the aforementioned is a great way to scope out destination. Must-have app.
- While you can use a customized Google Map on Maps.me, the colour coding and layers disappear, but being able to use it offline with all your pins wherever and whenever is a sacrifice that far outweighs losing those features.
- *Some devices track better than others. My iPad doesn’t track very well but updates at a Telstra wi-fi hot spot. My dad’s Samsung phone tracks very, very well.
- While the device is pretty accurate when it comes to the location of places, please don’t drive into lakes and oceans.)
Even if you’re wandering the desert like Caine from Kung-Fu, chances are that somewhere along the way you’re going to be stuck with something that hasn’t dried in time when you need them to be, be it a road trip or another kind of travel.
There’s nothing worse when you’re travelling than wet clothes that you had to pack away in your bag before you left because the drier wasn’t working or there was an unexpected downpour the day before.
A way to help combat the stinky smell that will inevitably transfer to the rest of your belongings in the same bag is to pack a bunch of silica gels.
Those little sachets that come inside foodstuffs and other goods to keep moisture at bay are a great, inexpensive way to absorb any dampness of any items that you weren’t able to let dry before you had to shazam out of town, a hotel or the hotel swimming pool that you weren’t staying at, hahaha. (I didn’t do that, but I know some peeps who did.)
Projecta Inverter For Charging Batteries
If you’re heading out on a road trip in your own vehicle and like to do a lot of photography or use electronics with batteries that are unable to be charged with a cigarette-lighter USB converter, then a Projecta Inverter is a priceless accessory to have installed.
Cameras, electric toothbrushes and other such items that are plug-in only are hard to find USB adapters for, not to mention expensive, so having a car charger with a plug saves you from having to find converters for each one of your items.
Even if you don’t have a lot of things that need a plug, you might have a lot of things you need to charge, such as phones, iPads, laptops, Go-Pros and drones etc, you can take a powerboard and some plug-USB converters (or a powerboard with USB ports) and have them recharging at the same time.
Another thing that makes having this type of charger worth it is that your vehicle doesn’t need to be working up miles for it to be useful. You can have your stuff powering up without the engine being on while you pop into town for dinner, go off on a hike or while laying your weary head to rest dreaming about your next destination.
It is a bit of an investment to have, and you’ll need an auto-electrician to install, but the convenience, in the long run, is well worth the cost.
When it comes to travelling, a good chunk of dinero goes towards accommodation. Staying in hotels, cabins and villas can be nice, but unless your holiday is centred around said place, they are also kind of inconvenient.
If you’re someone looking to save costs or you never know where you are going to be by the time night rolls around, or you like to wake up early for the sunrise, a great, very low-cost way to catch some shut-eye is to stay at a designated overnight stay area. And by low-cost, I mean free or with a small donation.
A favourite of caravanners, motorhome owners and campervanners and other such similar travellers is to park your vehicle at a stopover, have some lunch or dinner by a park or a river (or a park by the river) look around town, sit around a fire (if permitted), and watch the stars before having a snooze.
Sometimes they are just bays by the side of the road nowhere near a town, other times they’re in townships and have a few facilities like picnic tables, BBQ’s and toilets that are open all night. If you’re lucky, they might have a shower for you to use. If you’re really lucky, they might even have hot water. Booyah! (Sometimes they are free, sometimes they’re a couple of bucks.)
They’re also very convenient if you need somewhere to stay and are tired from driving, unexpectedly decide to stay longer or need to catch some shut-eye for a couple of hours without having the authorities or locals giving your ass hell if they decide you are a nuisance and want to move you along for parking and snoozing anywhere.
How do I find these places where I won’t get disturbed and can have a good nap to send me on my merry way the next day? Well, as with many things these days, there’s an app for that.
Wiki-Camps is a convenient community-run app that helps you plan your next road trip with sights, attractions, parks, caravan parks, places to do laundry as well the aforementioned free places to stay but also provides information about the local haunts. Things such as whether it’s free for use or pay entry, what type of amenities are there, if it’s only accessible only with 4WD etc, are some of the things WikiCamps tells you.
It’s also great because it’s also has a lot of user input so you can see what others thought of the place and what their experience was with it or the people who ran it as to whether it would appeal to you to visit, the price of entry if there was one and so forth.
Not only will this app help you in numerous aspects of planning, whether you’re planning in advance or figuring it out as you go, but it’s completely useable offline. SCORE! You’ll never be stuck floundering for where to go next or where to stay the night and can plan where you are going to stay after the sun sets.
The only thing that I don’t like about WikiCamps is that the actual map itself is kind of tacky and awkward to read, (I use Maps.Me to find my way. See above) but the convenience of it and knowing where to go and helping me decide whether I should go there makes this app that’s available for many different countries worth the price it costs to buy.
Make Time For The Unexpected
“Do you have to, do you have to let it linger.” Yes.
If you’re like me and like to plan to the nines, don’t throw it all out the window because you didn’t have enough time to thoroughly explore the area you are visiting or had to “everything is shuffling” your itinerary because you spent way too long at one place and had to forego the other.
Nothing sucks more than going to visit a place only to find that you won’t have time to check off all the things on your to-do list. A way to combat that is, if possible, is to allow yourself to have way too much time at each other the destinations and be flexible but not in a rush.
Sometimes places are unexpectedly beautiful, and you want to “take your time, don’t live too fast”, and in these places that will no doubt be seared into your mind as highlights of the trip, you really shouldn’t have to. But that’s usually when time slips away from us and messes with your schedule.
And hey, if it’s not that special, well you’ve got some time to burn. Perhaps you’ll come across something you weren’t expecting to and you can high tail it there and spontaneously experience that puppy, or you could head forth so you can have more time at your next destination, or maybe you’ll get stuck in a massive traffic jam or take too long to hike that trail you were a wee bit underprepared for, you never know.
Depending on the place your visiting, giving an hour or two leeway to deal with the uncertainty that comes with life and you should be able to see all the places you had intended on visiting without it having to mess up your itinerary too much.
These are some things I use and implement whenever I head out on an adventure, and they make the planning and the road trip so much easier and efficient, and I hope they do the same for you. Do you have some tips that make the planning of your road trips much better? Let me know in the comments or if you have tried some of the aforementioned, I’d like to know if they helped make your trip more convenient.
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