How to Plan a Road Trip
I'm a ridiculously organised person, and planning holidays is my forte.
I'm always the one that organises holidays for my group of friends, or for getaways with my boyfriend. I actually find the planning almost as enjoyable as the holiday itself, and it's not unheard of for me to print off itineraries. Yep, I'm that person.
By far the best kind of holidays to plan are road trips. Planning out routes, deciding where to spend the night, plotting out where to stop off en route. Some of my favourite holidays have been road trips (the north of France, the west coast of Scotland), and this summer we will be embarking on our most ambitious road trip adventure to date: Iceland's ring road.
I've picked up a few tips over the years for how to best prepare for a road trip, and thought I'd share them on here, to aid anyone who is planning a trip of their own.
Do your research
Don't just wing it with your guidebook as you're driving along, do your research well in advance and decide what you want to see and do before you set off. I always buy a Rough Guide and a Lonely Planet when planning a trip, and spend hours searching for inspiration on Google and Instagram. Search for itineraries that people have already done and blogged about, or if you already have a vague idea of what you want to see, look up specific hashtags and click through to be inspired.
Use Google Maps
Once I have a rough idea of some of the key destinations I want to visit, I plot my start point and end point into Google Maps along with these must-visit locations. I can then see how long it will take me to drive from the start to the finish of my trip, and can work out how long it will take overall. Think about how long you're prepared to drive for each day, and divide that by the overall length of time to work out how long you need to take for your trip. Consider staying in a few locations for a couple of days to break things up. It's usually at this stage that I realise that I can't do everything I'd like to, and have to knock a few places off my list. We only have nine full days in Iceland, so I've had to leave out the Western Fjords, and have decided to concentrate most of my time in the south-east and north.
Buy a map
Although I'm a bit of an organisational geek and like to print off daily itineraries and routes from Google Maps, I also like to have a 'real' map to hand. Yes, it's useful as a back-up, but it's also nice to be able to plot your route yourself with a pencil, and to see the area that you are travelling in as a whole. Mark off your favourite destinations and frame the map when you get home as a memento of your trip.
Plan in advance
A good road trip isn't a lastminute.com holiday. It needs planning in advance, and I usually take around six months to plan my trips. I research my chosen destination meticulously before planning in the route, and carefully consider the time of year that I intend to visit. With Iceland, I was torn between midnight sun and northern lights, but finally opted for the former, as long days and better weather conditions will allow for better driving conditions and will give us the chance to see more of the country. Planning ahead also means that you can split the cost of the trip over a couple of months, rather than paying for everything all at once.
Gather your essentials
A couple of months before you set off, start to think about what you need to take with you. If you're taking your own van and camping, consider if you need to purchase sleeping bags, blankets and camping equipment. If your plan is to take your car abroad, check if you need any specific safety equipment (in France you are required to have several items in your car at all times, including hi-vis jackets and your own breathalyser). For Iceland, I have a new pair of light-weight walking shoes and a new camera better equipped for landscape photography on my wish-list.