5 Essential Tips for the Awesome Road Trip

Road trip
I made this from P.’s LEGO collection to illustrate you, how much you can experience on a road trip!!

If you ask me, road trip is the best way to travel. Why? Firstly, you can see and experience way more than just staying in one town or region during your vacation. Secondly, road trip = adventures. Adventures = lifetime memories. Lifetime memories are good. They can warm you and cheer you up even on the coldest and gloomiest evening.

The most important thing is, that travelling with the car doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or tiring. You just need to evaluate and calculate several essential things.

Here are they: 5 essential points, that you have to consider in order to organize the Awesome Road Trip.

Balance between days and kilometers

Ok, this is definitely the first and, probably, the most important thing, that you have to evaluate and calculate before your Awesome Road Trip. From my personal experience, 500 km per day 1 is a line. If you cross it, with each 50 km, your fun road trip day will become more and more tiring.

The main rule for the Awesome Road Trip is to remember, that you can’t see, visit and experience everything. In the end, you will remember moments and your general mood, but not each and every sight you saw. So, don’t grab too much. This can only lead you to being tired, hungry, angry and apathetic to all the sights. And this is not how you should feel on your vacation. Plus, you break the second significant rule – you’ll become an annoying travel companion.

I have to admit, that applying this rule is a bit of a problem to me, too. I’m super excited, when I’m traveling. I want it all and I want it now. But I think, that I have already learned my lesson the hard way (hunger, soring feet, apathy, tiredness) and now I’m traveling with  the view from different perspective. Balance is the name of that perspective.

So, if you have, for example, 10 days for your vacation, in my opinion, 4000-5000 km is maximum what you can determine to achieve on your dynamic vacation. However, there is one more but… 

Time for chillaxing

As we all agreed, balance between time inside and outside the car is the most important thing. But you won’t succeed in organizing the Awesome Road Trip, if you don’t include time for chillaxing.

Road Trip
We found this lonely beauty while driving from Porto to Nazare. There were only few people besides us there!

Again, in my personal opinion, the best vacations on the road is when you don’t rush to see it all. If you had an active day (a lot of kilometers, a lot of sights, a lot of movement, a lot of emotions), then make sure that next day you would have some time to chillax. For example, to lay down on the beach with a Pina Colada in your hand. Or, if you are crossing the mountains, stop and dedicate half of the day, or even more, for a peaceful hiking with a picnic in an Alpine Meadows.

To sum up, this is also about the balance. As I see it, road trip is a perfect way to travel, because you can get various types of experiences and to see a lot more, than by staying in one place. You can explore nature’s and architectural sights, different villages and cities. But together, you can spend a day at the beach or go hiking at the mountains, you can feel the nightlife of the random city which intrigued while driving. Basically, you can have both – an active and a relaxing holiday.

My advice is to search for a balance between the activities: if you were exploring architecture of several beautiful towns yesterday, then today is a day in the park or in the nature generally. If yesterday you drove 500 km and visited X spectacular places, then today is a beach day. I’m almost sure, that if you stick to this logic, you won’t feel that you have missed something during your holiday.

Road Trip
Met a herd of mountain goats and a funny shepherd in the Serra de Estrela. Shepherd seemed really happy to see us, especially when we gave him some cigarettes.

Plan of action

To be fair, I am talking more of the guidelines, not a plan. In my opinion, plan is too concrete for a road trip. Road trip is too dynamic, that you could decided each step before the start of it. For example, while travelling, you will probably find a place 2 where you and your travel companions would like to spend more time (a whole day or even stay for a night). But if you have already booked all places to sleep before the start of your journey, then you will loose half of the joy, which road trip can bring you. Make these decisions on the spot. Don’t forget, we have smartphones, Booking.com and WiFi now. 

However, you need guidelines. The more people you travel with, the more these guidelines should be highlighted. (The more opinions in the car, the more there is a chance to have an argument – you don’t need it nor on your holiday, neither in your daily life).

What do I have in mind with those guidelines? Well, for example, you know that you have 10 days for your trip. We have already agreed, that 500 km is a limit per day, so that makes maximum 5000 km. However, you and your travel companions want not only to explore significant sights, you also want to spend a day at the beach, enjoy the nightlife, or have more than two beers in the evening. So that leaves us with 5 days for more productive traveling (~500 km/per day), and 5 days for a bit lazier activities (0-300 km).

Road Trip
After a hot day in Lisbon we were searching for a place where we could relax a little bit.. And that’s how we found Portinho da Arrábida!

Now sit down with your travel companions and discuss the general expectations. Combine it with the kilometers per day and put those numbers on the map. You will have guidelines of your route, but you will be also able to change them during your trip.

However, before the start of your adventurous journey, it is essential to agree which countries or states (country, or state) you will be visiting. Such guideline, as, for example, ‘Let’s go on a road trip through Europe‘, doesn’t work. I think your friend, who expects to visit Spain and Portugal, wouldn’t be super excited to end up at the Baltics.

Comfortable spaceship

Considering, that you will have to spend quite a lot of time in the car, you have to make sure that you feel comfortable there. So, if you are travelling in a company of two or three people, make sure not to take too much stuff and everything will be OK. However, more difficulties if you have more adventurous friends.

Road Trip
When driving through France, we were charmed by each and every little village.

In my opinion, 4 people is a total limit for travelling with the ordinary 5-seat car. Undoubtedly, the best way to travel for 4-6 people is with the van. It is spacious, usually you will have a table and other convenient things there. And you won’t have a lot of problem in finding a place for your stuff.

Vehicle is your spaceship during a road trip, so make sure that it is comfortable and safe. If you don’t own a spacious car – rent it. It won’t be a huge expenses, considering that you will split a rent price with your friends. However, you will feel more relaxed in a nice and comfortable car. After all, it will be almost like home during your vacation.

P. S. Avoid vans with tinted windows in the back. Believe me, it is a bit inconvenient when you and your best friend are sitting in the back of the van and hardly can see the most picturesque road by the Adriatic Sea in Croatia.

Road trip mood

What do road trip mood mean? It means that you are open for adventures – no matter how unexpected they can be. Even a flat tire is an adventure that you will remember for a long time.

Road trip
Our flat tire led us here!

And this is my experience talking. This February me and P. were moving through North Spain towards Portugal. We were near Ribadeo when we noticed, that our tire is flat. I have to admit, that the moment, when we had to take all our stuff out (the trunk was full of things) to take a spare tire out and the process of P. changing it on a roadside of a highway, wasn’t the happiest  moment of our 5000 km road trip.

But wait till you hear the end of the story. As we were again in the car, our goal was to find the nearest car service to fix the flat tire, that we would have a spare one again. The first town that we found had a service that solved our problem. But there is more. It appeared to be a town with one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole Iberian Peninsula – Praia das Catedrais. We wouldn’t have seen such a beauty if not that tire.

My point is that you have to be open for an adventures, because everything that happens on the road brings you opportunity to see more and to explore more.

My Dear Friend, start getting ready for your Awesome Road Trip. I promise you adventures, that you will remember for a long time.

Share your experience on the road. What are the most essential tips that you could give for us? Let’s have a discussion in comments!

Yours, L. 

  1. ~310 miles.
  2. which you didn’t expect to find before the start of your trip