There’s nothing better in my opinion than experiencing a new, or even slightly familiar, destination on the open road. Not beholden to train or bus schedules, the freedom that only a car can provide transforms a simple trip into a journey of discovery. The US, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Iceland and still more destinations have been featured on my road trip playlist and after spending many, many hours in a variety of cars I’ve created some best practices that I want to share with you all today so that you can enjoy this fun way of exploration without sweating some of the annoyances.
It’s amazing how much technology has changed even in the last couple of years. I am horrible when it comes to directions and reading a map is akin to advanced trigonometry. So since their advent, I have always depended on GPS devices. Until recently, this meant renting one of those horrible dash-mounted devices from the rental car agencies, but luckily technology has advanced to the point where I no longer have to do that. Instead, I just use my phone to direct me wherever I have to go. Nearly all modern cars have a USB port, which means I can get the GPS directions through the car’s speakers AND keep the phone charged at the same time. What about data you ask? Two points to consider here. The first is to select a plan that allows for unlimited international and/or domestic data. I recently switched companies to one that offers free, international data in 120 or so countries so this is thankfully no longer a concern for me. But the second point to consider is that you don’t need data to use the GPS services. Before you leave the airport, use the airport WiFi to set your destination and then start the navigation, switching to airplane mode afterwards. As long as you don’t turn off the GPS or change destinations, you don’t need real-time connectivity to get around. Naturally, all of this depends on whatever plan you’re on. An added bonus to connecting my phone to the car via USB is that I don’t have to futz around with the local radio stations anymore; instead I just listen to MY music on MY phone. I set up a special Road Trip playlist and that’s what I listen to whenever I’m on a road trip. I love the system I’ve created and think it’s the best way to get around and enjoy the experience while doing so.
This should go without saying, but as my friends in New Zealand will tell you, most tourists don’t take the time to learn the rules of the road when driving internationally. The basics of driving are usually about the same wherever you go, no shock there. The differences are more in the slight nuances, quirky laws and rules that you may not know. Whether it’s the MANY speed cameras in Europe or the intricacies of navigating a multi-lane roundabout on the left-hand side, these are points that could very well lead to disaster. So, take a few minutes, learn about those differences and become an educated traveler.
Ultimately, the best part of any great road trip is the drive itself. Whether it’s navigating the stunning Icefields Parkway in Alberta or the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland, these drives are about the driving experience itself. You’ll pass through beautiful natural landscapes and regions of the world you thought only existed in the annals of travel magazines. Sure, the stops are great, but ultimately you can’t stop at every amazing spot you see, so the drive itself becomes the experience. It’s a holistic way of experiencing a destination, of absorbing everything that makes it so great in the first place.
What are some of your tips for a great road trip?
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A luxury adventure traveler at heart, Matt Long shares his experiences with thousands of readers every day through his travel blog, LandLopers.com. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Matt is a Washington, DC based travel writer/photographer and has been featured on many other web sites and publications including BBC Travel, CNN GO, Huffington Post, AFAR Magazine and National Geographic Intelligent Travel. His work is also syndicated on the Flipboard and Pulse apps. Follow Matt on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Google Plus.
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