We’ve been watching the likes of Top Gear and The Grand Tour for years now. But while we love watching it, what would be even better is doing it ourselves. We honestly love a road trip. It doesn’t matter what cars we have, or what roads we’re on, sometimes the fact that you’re on the road with people you love being around will make it the best thing in the world.
We’ve started a YouTube series specifically to explore this, so we’re serious about it.
But what makes the greatest Grand Tour road trip, and how can you go about making yours comfortable, fun, and safe? Read on as we explore 10 tips that create the best road trips… in the world.
10. Share it with friends
Road trips, by definition, take a long time. So one of the best things you can do is bring your friends along for the ride with you so you can share the experience for years to come.
Whether you’re all in one car or going full Top Gear mode and convoying it with radios, the greatest part of a good road trip is reliving it with mates. Plus, a number of other great bi-products will come from this.
- You get someone to pass you snacks
- Having others chatting to you will keep you awake and alert
- If you feel too tired to drive, someone else can take over – as long as they’re fully insured to drive the car
- You can have someone manning the phone for apps, music, navigation, whatever, because on almost every road in the world, it’s illegal to use your phone behind the wheel
9. Plan ahead as much as you can
I know it sounds very romantic to not plan a road trip, to simply just drive until the road disappears. But it can be quite stressful when you can’t find somewhere to sleep for the night, or somewhere to buy a bottle of water or food.
So we suggest, at the very least, pinpointing points of interest on your map before you leave such as shops, fuel stations, and places to stay. We’re putting together some full plans for road trips which will be released soon, so keep an eye so we can do all the work for you.
Until then, get at minimum a basic idea of what direction you’re travelling in and think about what you’ll need and potential disasters along the way. Fuel for your car and you are two priorities, so make sure to pinpoint general shops for you to stop in if you’re getting low on supplies. An often-forgotten tip is to always look at what fuel is being sold by certain fuel stations, too.
If you’re driving a higher performance car, you may need higher octane fuel which not every station will sell, so plan for this.
8. Clean and detail your car
This is often overlooked as something that isn’t necessary, but driving a clean car is so much nicer than driving a car that’s been lived in for a couple of months. Remove the old bottles, the drive-through wrappers, and coats from the back seat, and crack out your vacuum.
Start by removing everything from your car. Keep everything you want separate, and bin the rest. Then go in with the vacuum and a number of attachments to dust your car and get to work. Then once you’ve done this, wipe down the plastics with a microfibre cloth and cleaner, then finish up with a good glass cleaner. That’s the bare minimum you’ll want to do before you start your trip, but if you want to go all out with some polish and leather conditioner, then go for it.
You’ll thank yourself later as you breath in the scents of your cleaners rather than some old socks wedged under the passenger seat.
It’s also worth washing and waxing the exterior of your car, too. Not only will it look great, but a good wax will provide protection that will make it a lot easier to wash once it’s covered with bugs and mud. This will help your paint last longer and hold off rust, especially if there’s salt on the road.
7. Get your technology ready
You’ll want all of your technology at hand when you’re on the road, especially if something goes wrong. So get yourself a phone holder, get a fast charging cable, and make sure you have all the apps downloaded before you set off – you never know if you’re going to run out of internet connectivity.
We suggest downloading the following apps:
- Google Maps – navigation
- Waze – navigation
- GasBuddy – cheap fuel station finger
- Airbnb – Hotels and other places to stay
- HotelTonight – Hotels
- The Dyrt – Camping locations near you
- Spotify – endless music and podcasts
That’s a good list to start you off with reliable navigation, access to fuel and somewhere to stay, and plenty of entertainment.
It may be worth buying a separate Satnav, but this isn’t totally necessary. If you’re worried your car can’t charge fast enough, then take a look at brick chargers or even solar panels that you can take with you to plug into.
Finally, take a camera. Take lots of photos so you can look back on your trip.
6. Pack the essentials
Now you’ve got your tech sorted, it’s time to pack things you’ll definitely need.
Start with a basic first aid kit. You never know when something could go wrong, so it’s worth nailing that first just in case. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t. After that, a couple of bottles of water in the boot will be helpful, and if you’re going somewhere cold, a blanket or two.
All of your important documents should be kept safe in the glovebox. Insurance details, driver’s license, and maybe a physical list of numbers such as roadside assistance, hotels, taxi services. Just in case. Oh, and take a map.
More car parks across the world are taking payments via apps especially since the pandemic, but keep a little bit of cash in your car in case you run into a carpark that hasn’t got with the modern world yet.
Depending on which country you’re travelling to, you may have to add other things to your list including EU stickers, headlight beam blockers, or emergency triangles. So make sure you check before you leave so you can equip yourself.
- First aid kit
- Spare bottles of water
- Blanket or warm clothes
- Important documents – insurance, license, etc
- Physical print-off of phone numbers you may need
- Spare cash
- Country dependent items – stickers, etc
5. Pack the… non-essentials. Snacks!
Thanks mum, now you have maps and your insurance details packed away. Now we can talk the tasty stuff.
You’ll want plenty of snacks, but remember you’ll be eating them in the car, so you won’t want anything that drips or makes a mess. Crips are a great shout, or nuts if you’re feeling healthy. Cans of drink are easier to open than bottles on the road if you’re by yourself, but make sure you’ve got cup holders that work with your size of can. Honestly, Red Bull cans are just the worst for this.
Sweets are good because they take a long time to go off. This means if you don’t eat all of them, you can always take them on the next road trip.
- Crisps / popcorn
- Protein bars
4. Stay Comfortable
Driving for hours on end can be difficult if you’re getting uncomfortable, so while these aren’t completely necessary, it’s worth thinking about these comfort-enhancing ideas that will keep your road trip stress-free.
Wear clothes that are comfortable. Driving a car isn’t a fashion show, so you can put away the fancy shirts and jeans and wear something soft made from breathable fabrics. You can always take a change of clothes if you really need to take a selfie in your Gucci.
You can keep your designer sunglasses though, as sun glare can get seriously annoying especially during the winter months when the sun’s lower. This can be dangerous, but keeping a pair of sunglasses in your car will negate this.
On that note, dress for the weather. If it’s really hot, wear something light. If it’s wet, take a coat. If it’s cold, wrap up!
It’s also worth wearing thin but comfortable shoes so you can feel the pedals but still have plenty of support. Thick shoes make it difficult to drive, so be aware of this.
3. Check over your car
The last thing you want to do is break down when you’re on the road. So take some time to look around your vehicle for any troublesome issues. Check your tyres have plenty of rubber on them, check your bulbs are working, and if you’re more mechanically inclined, take a look over your brakes.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, or want a professional to sign off on your car, it’s always worth taking it to your local trusted garage for them to give your car a health inspection and a service.
They’ll make sure everything is running smoothly so you only need to focus on the road.
6 things to check before you leave:
- Oil levels
- Washer fluid levels and wipers
- Tyre tread depth
- Battery health
- Any squeaks or sounds that aren’t normal
If you have any doubts, pay a professional to take a look.
Oh, and fill up your fuel tank.
2. Plan for potential issues
Along the way, there will be known issues that you can plan to avoid. For example, if you’re planning to travel on a highway that’s known for a lot of traffic, maybe set out a path on smaller roads that might take a little longer, but would be more interesting and, potentially, faster than being sat in dead stop traffic.
Or using Waze, have a general sweep of any roadworks that could affect your travels and plan to drive around it. Or let’s say you get lost in a small village. Know where your motorways are so you can return to them as backup just in case the little roads get too annoying.
1. See as much as possible
Road trips take time, and that’s not something we all have. We have jobs to get back to and responsibilities to cover, so make the most of your time and see as many places as possible (safely). Even if there’s something you don’t think you’ll enjoy, go and see it anyway and decide once you’ve experienced it.
This can sometimes mean rushing and/or putting lots of miles on your car, so this is as your discretion. But sometimes you have to live a little, put the right pedal down, and lap up the miles to explore as much of the world as you can.