I’m pretty sure we will be witnessing the comeback of the road trip this year. And with so many things to have in mind when planning for an escape, there are for sure some road trip mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Last year was all about road trips for me: I’ve spent one week in Romania, have driven the Romantic Road in Germany, went all the way to Colmar in France, and have driven through Puglia and to the other side of Italy, on the Amalfi Coast. Oh, and I haven’t written about driving around Crete in Greece yet, but we’ve done that as well.
So, I can easily say I have some experience with road trips by now. And I know that there are some vital things you must have in mind and some mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
I’m guilty of doing some of them, but we learn from our mistakes and it’s my duty to help you avoid them.
That’s why I came up with this list of things to have in mind when planning a road trip, and you’ll also be able to download a road trip checklist to help you out.
Road trip mistakes to avoid
NOT CHECKING ROAD CONDITIONS
I’m sure you check the distance when you start planning your trip, however, don’t forget to look at the road conditions.
We’ve made that mistake many years ago when we drove from Romania to Montenegro. The distance was around 900 km but we didn’t take into consideration the fact that a large part of the road will be through the mountains. That’s why we spent so much more time on the road than we initially expected.
Also, last year while driving through Germany we ran into many portions where the highway was under construction. And that’s how a 4-hour drive turned into a 6-hour drive.
It’s good to have a time buffer and to check the road conditions before leaving.
NOT TAKING ENOUGH FOOD AND WATER
Sure, you’ll gas stations where you’ll be able to stop and buy some food and water if you run out of them, but you’ll waste time and money like this. And you might not always find them when you need them.
On the same Montenegro road trip, after we finished the few provisions we had with us, we couldn’t find a gas station, and when we finally did, they were closed for inventory. And that’s how we almost starve until we got to the destinations.
The same goes for the small villages in Germany, especially if you are traveling during the weekend. There are gas stations where you pay directly by card at the pump, without any shop.
NOT CHECKING YOUR CAR BEFORE YOU LEAVE
A revision before any road trip is always a good idea because it’s always better to be cautious than sorry afterward.
If you’re renting a car make sure to ask where the spare tire is and any roadside assistance you could call in case of emergency.
NOT TOPPING OFF YOUR TANK BEFORE LEAVING
The worst feeling is to watch the fuel go down without knowing where the next gas station is. And believe me, I’ve been there before.
That’s not only a factor of stress, but it’s something that can be easily avoided if you top off your tank before you leave. Of course, the other thing you must do is to stop and refill before you run too low and start panicking because you risk running out of fuel.
NOT HAVING A PLAN
Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes love to decide for a trip and just up and go without thinking too much about it. However, even then you’ll need a plan and you will want to think about what you’ll do if things go wrong.
When I was in university, together with some friends we decided from one day to the other to go on a road trip. We didn’t have any accommodation booked and we weren’t sure where we would be going. We almost ended up sleeping in the car because we couldn’t find an affordable place to stay in one of the towns we ended up in.
Somehow we managed to get a hotel room, but that was a stressful situation. That’s fun when you’re young and careless, but you don’t always want to have your trips like that.
Thus, make sure to have at least an itinerary set before you leave, and an idea about the places you’ll stop by to sleep. Also, there are destinations for which you’ll want to book the hotels in advance if you don’t want to risk having to sleep in the car.
NOT DOWNLOADING MUSIC AND PODCASTS AT HOME ON WIFI
Don’t forget to download all the music and the podcast you will want to listen to on your road trip. Especially when you are leaving your home country and your data plan won’t cover it.
Save on data and money when you create a playlist from home.
RELYING ON YOUR CELL PHONE COVERAGE FOR NAVIGATION
Like the point above, you don’t really know where you will end up and if you will go through places without coverage.
Avoid getting lost by bringing along a paper map and by using a travel map app.
Some great options:
Often times, taking a “shortcut” will prove to be a bad idea. Of course, shortcuts are great when you are really familiar with the area and the road conditions.
However, when you don’t know where you’re going taking a shortcut is one of the road trip mistakes you’ll want to avoid making. You can end up in a roadblock, in front of a tunnel you cannot cross because your car is too big, or having to drive on a really bad road and risking damaging your car.
Stick to the main road and be safe.
DRIVING TOO MUCH IN ONE DAY
Going on a road trip adventure doesn’t always have to mean spending all your day in the car. Take your time and plan so that you can enjoy the places without being too tired at the end of the day.
Allocate a maximum of 4-5 hours of driving in one day and at least 3 hours in every place you stop in along the way.
Avoid driving at night because you’ll want to see the places you pass through. It’s much nicer like that.
NOT PACKING ALL THE NECESSITIES
It is always a good idea to have a road trip checklist in order to make sure you don’t leave anything useful behind.
Make sure to download my printable checklist and use it for your next trip.
Here are only a few of the necessities you won’t want to leave at home:
- Snacks and water
- Garbage bags
- Kleenex or hand sanitizer
- Advil or something for pain
- Bluetooth speaker
- First Aid Kit
- Spare tire
- Car cooler
PIN FOR LATER!