Summer is upon us (although the weather is only just playing ball!) and for me that means one thing…holiday! If you’ve read my previous Wanderlust posts about stunning Santorini and ever romantic Paris you’ll know that I love a getaway! I may not have mentioned it much (perhaps a future post idea?) but I have done a fair bit of travelling in my younger days (gosh…not that I’m a granny now, but you know what I mean!). In 2011 I took a break from my career to travel the world taking with me my best pal and a backpack (how I fitted a years worth of clothing into one bag -it was a large one granted – I’ll never know!) and set off to discover China, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The travel bug had truly bitten and the following year the same friend and I planned a road trip around the west coast of the USA taking in LA, San Diego, The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Yosemite and San Francisco (an epic trip but a lot of driving!). Then in 2014 we repeated the process on the east coast visiting Washington DC, Orlando, Miami and the Florida Keys. I guess you could say I’ve planned a few road trips in my time!
This summer I’m super excited to be off on another road trip adventure, this time with The Canadian. The clue is in the name…surprise, surprise the other half isn’t from around here! We are heading back to his homeland to see his folks (read meet for the first time – eek!) and explore his wonderful country. I might just mention here that conveniently on our first date he asked me which country was next on my list to visit…it was Canada – fate! After telling him what a ‘must-see’ The Grand Canyon is (honestly, if you ever get a chance to visit – jump at it!) and my longing to see Monument Valley (have you seen that place on Instagram? Oh man!) we also are incorporating a little of the grand old USA into our tour too. Our plan is to fly into Las Vegas, drive out to The Grand Canyon and stop off to see Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend before catching a flight to Calgary (where his parents are), heading into The Rockies and then spending a few days in Vancouver. Again…quite the road trip! If you follow me on Instagram please prepare for some holiday spam next month I’m already eyeing up this Panasonic compact camera system as it can take both photo and video (a limitation of my current camera) – a must on this trip I think!
I thought I would put together a quick list of my Top Ten Road Trip Essentials so that if you fancy planning your own little adventure (home or away!) I could hopefully impart some of my experience (read lessons learned through mistakes…) of planning and ensuring your trip goes as smoothly as possible!
Before You Go
- Look at online road trip maps for inspiration/guidance. When my pal and I planned our first two road trips we took the basic route from an STA Travel tour. It’s far cheaper to drive yourself and find your own accommodation than booking a package. If it’s your first time travelling ready made routes can be an amazing way to meet others, but if you’re a well versed traveller, spending a bit of time making a bespoke trip can really pay off.
- Book your flights early…and be flexible if you can! We started planning this trip last Christmas as we knew we wanted to visit The Canadian’s parents. Flights shot up from about £650 to almost double that from January to March. We managed to bag a good deal by being flexible with our flight dates (I know we are lucky with our holidays but even moving your trip by a day can save a few hundred pounds!).
- Book your car hire in advance. It’s way cheaper to book online before you arrive! This is a lesson learned the hard way back in Vegas 2013!
- Download google maps to use offline. If you’re travelling abroad you may want to avoid using data as this can be super expensive! You may also be travelling into remote areas (in my case the desert!) where it can be tricky to pick up a signal. Google maps is amazing for this! Simply pre-download the area that you will be travelling to and you can access it even without data – read their handy guide here.
- Compare hotel prices. I know I’m probably preaching to the converted in these days of comparison websites but it really is worth taking a bit of extra time to shop around. I always find Expedia and Booking have the most competitive prices.
When You’re There
- Keep hydrated! It seems a simple one but if you’re spending a few hours in the car, especially in a hot country, make sure you load up on the bottled water!
- Use an SD card reader. How have I only just discovered these? For an Instagram addict such as myself these are an essential for transferring photos to your phone on the go. I use this one from Apple.
- Take an eye mask and ear plugs. Driving for hours at a time can really take it out of you. It’s funny really as you think you’re just sitting still taking in the sights, but from personal experience concentrating whilst at the wheel, especially on an unknown route can take it’s toll. Make sure you get plenty of sleep so that you can drive refreshed in the morning.
- Use a portable charger. The last thing you want is to run out of battery on your phone in the middle of nowhere. Invest in a power bank (they can be picked up fairly cheaply these days) to make sure that you can capture those important moments and also make that important emergency call if needed.
- Prepare for anything! I’ve been lucky with all of my road trips and thankfully not had any disasters but it’s always worth playing it safe. Carry a first aid kit, your insurance details and plan designated stop offs along the way should you need a rest or some help.
There you have it – that’s my top tips for a smooth road trip adventure, I hope you found them helpful!
Where would your dream road trip location be? Do you have any recommendations for my next travel expedition? Let me know in the comments!
The Blonde x
*This is a collaborative post with the lovely folk at Panasonic but as always all opinions are my own and I only feature products or events that are fitting and in keeping with the tone and content of my blog or Instagram page.