There is something extremely exciting about the prospect of hitting the road with a group of friends- it’s an amazing feeling to head off, (and to paraphrase Jack Kerouac) with nothing behind you and everything ahead of you. But of course when there is the potential for an adventure, there is also a high chance that something could go wrong.
From forgetting your map to ending up in prison we reveal the nine things NEVER to do on a road trip and how to prevent unpleasant situations from occurring – follow these tips and we can guarantee you’ll have amazing time, well, apart from all the leg cramp and arguments over who called shot-gun.
1. Leave home in a rush
Ok, so you have decided to embark on a spontaneous adventure… great! How very ‘Hollywood’ of you. But before you jump in the car, give yourself an hour (at least!) to make some plans. Map out a rough idea of where you are going perhaps? Or even just give yourself a chance to pack the necessary items and of course find the time to lock up the house. Sorry for spoiling the fun, but surely a bit of forward prep is better than driving for hours only to realise that there was a way cooler route in the opposite direction or that you’ve left your contact lens solution in the bathroom and the front door wide open?
2. Leave the wrong person in charge of the playlist
Without being overdramatic, your playlist is without a doubt the make or break of a decent road trip. Don’t pass on the responsibility of making the playlists, mixtapes, and CD choices to someone whose own collection consists of three Greatest Hits albums and a film soundtrack. It could mean the difference between cruising down the motor way singing along to some amazing anthems or bumbling along some country road with one person humming along to the same Carpenters album on repeat and everyone else trying not to die a little on the inside…perhaps that’s a little harsh, but you get the idea.
3. Binge on coffee
It’s an easy mistake to make. You start to get tired from those endless hours on the road and pull over at a motorway café and binge on caffeine. Less than an hour later half the car needs a toilet break and so on and so forth. Too much coffee also makes you weird and jumpy, which definitely makes being crammed into a small car with other people especially trying.
4. Take the wrong sort of vehicle
Five of you in a Corsa driving from Aberdeen to London is never going to end well. Remember to consider the length of the journey and number of people. Think about hiring a car if your own isn’t suitable – it will also make it easier for you to split costs and driving responsibility.
5. Be a boy-racer
Speeding is an obvious no-no. But there are several other elements of the boy-racer persona that should generally be avoided for safety reasons (and also to stop you looking like a massive loser). Don’t rev your engine at people (especially at traffic lights) – you just don’t know how other drivers will react. Don’t shout at people out your window either – it’s never cool. And especially don’t think your car can do tricks. No 360 spins or abrupt breaking. Something will end up getting broken – your car being the least important of those things.
6. Forget to pack snacks
Oh rookie mistake. Unless you want to pull over at every single Little Chef or McDonalds on route, make sure you pack some treats to keep you (and your passengers) going. It is perhaps worth also mentioning here that you are in a small cramped space – avoid crumby or smelly foods. And ice-cream – never a good idea.
7. Miss-out on breaks
A sure fire way of turning a light-hearted road trip into a stressful and uncomfortable endurance is to miss out on breaks, and depending on the length of your journey, nights in hotels. Being determined to make it to a certain point by a certain time, even when your passengers are screaming with discomfort and you are fighting sleep is never a good idea, so take it easy – road trips are meant to be fun! Organise pit stops every few hours and make sure you get a few decent night’s sleeps if you plan on being on the road for a few days on end.
8. Forget to check the rules of the country
Did you know that you can be fined up to 2000 roubles in Russia if your car is overly dirty, or that in France you must carry a breathalyser kit with you at all times? Before your road trip descends into chaos – maybe have a look at the driving rules of the country you are visiting before heading off. It could save you a hefty fine – or indeed, a night in the cells.
9. Pick up a hitchhiker
Ok so this is a 50/50. It is the quintessential part of any road trip to pick up the interesting looking character at the side of the road, hear their stories and take them to a new destination. But, in reality, you have to determine the potential dangers of letting a complete stranger into your vehicle. It could turn out just fine, you’ll share some laughs, learn something new and have a good story to tell… or your road-trip adventure will develop into the plot of a horror film. We’ll leave this one up to you to decide.
Listen to our Road Trip podcast for more tips, tricks and tales from the tarmac: