Ah, the open road: freedom, wonder, expectation. Or, the very British alternative: breakdowns, 50mph average speed cameras, and someone piping up “are we nearly there yet?” at regular intervals. Whether it’s a romantic trip for two, a mates’ mission, or a family outing, if your holidays are more M6 roadworks in a Citroen Picasso than Route 66 in a Ford Mustang, then I might be able to help. Here’s how to have the perfect road trip this summer.
It goes without saying that to go on a road trip you need a car. If you don’t have use of one, don’t despair – you can still hire one or borrow one. Even city dwellers can get their hands on a car share vehicle to make that all important road trip.
If you’ve got wheels of your own then you’re good to go, but you need to check the essentials first. Whatever car you choose to take your road trip in, make sure it’s roadworthy, that its MOT is up to date, and that water, oil, petrol and fluid levels are all topped up, with air in the tyres.
Whoever has the privilege (or draws the short straw – depending on your point of view) of driving, make sure they’ve got their license and insurance, and have the vaguest idea of road safety.
If you haven’t passed your test yet and want to be the designated road trip driver or just do your share behind the wheel, then you can sign yourself up for a fast-track driving course with one of those crash course companies that help you pass your test fast (emphasis on the passing and not crashing) and you’ll be mirror-signal-reversing your way round the country in no time.
Are we nearly there yet?
Wherever you’re headed on your road trip, it’s an unwritten rule that the driver gets to choose the music. Unless, of course you’re trying to keep demanding youngsters entertained. If you’ve had more than your eardrums can handle of Disney songs, try downloading some of the tunes from the kids TV show Yo! Gabba Gabba with loads of less wince-inducing music from acts like Belle & Sebastian, The Killers and The Roots with kid friendly lyrics to boot.
If you’re all exhausted from I Spy and singsongs (usually after the first twenty minutes) then let passengers retreat to the antisocial comfort of their phones and tablets. My favourite gadgets for a peaceful road trip are the indispensable four-way family car charger from PNY and the great value Nuu Mobile T2 with 10 hour battery, both guaranteed to keep families happy – or at least less at each others’ throats – on their road trip.
Where we’re going we don’t need roads
The idea of hitting the highway without a care in the world might seem appealing, but the truth is that life before in-car technology was a massive nuisance – at least these days you can blame wrong turns on the sat nav instead of your Dad blaming your Mum for not reading the map properly and making him miss the turn. Plan ahead with updates from the Highways Agency, make sure you’ve got breakdown cover, and that your phone and sat nav are charged. And maybe take that old road atlas too, just in case.
However long your journey, a road trip isn’t a road trip without supplies. I can’t go ten miles without an entire aisle from the M&S garage on the passenger seat. For little kids in the back, avoid snacks that they can easily choke on, and take regular breaks so that they can eat and drink comfortably and safely out of their car seats. For the rest of us, stock up on supplies for all eventualities – like those M6 tailbacks – especially plenty of bottled water.
Swerve the expensive motorway services in favour of an old school roadside picnic with coolbox and thermos flask for maximum 1970s points or take a detour in search of a good country pub.
Now you’re all ready for your summer road trip you just need to make sure you’ve got the perfect destination in mind. Whether it’s holidaying at the seaside or the Lakes, escaping to the mountains or countryside, visiting friends and family or going to a festival, whatever you have planned – here’s wishing you open roads and and lots of patience!