A road trip is undoubtedly the best way to get to know a country better, to let yourself drift during a trip and to look beyond the classic sights.
Since we tended to travel within Germany and Europe during the pandemic (and appreciated the diversity of our continent more than ever), we have even been able to plan a road trip on the other side of the world again since last year. In Australia, the USA, Canada or South Africa.
And yet at the end of 2022 we realized one of the most beautiful road trips in all our travel blogger years in Europe: In December we drove from Germany to Mallorca and that was such a special travel experience! As you can see, we love long journeys by car! Since a dog has been in our lives, even a little bit more than before. Reason enough to update our road trip tips here on the blog for you!
“The route is the goal”, that’s the motto. The true magic of a far-off land is often discovered somewhere along the route between the famous stops recommended by every guidebook. Chris and I are huge road trip fans and try to explore a (new) country at least once a year as part of a multi-week car trip. And on our list are some more routes near and far that we want to ride in the years to come.
Be on the road all day? Doesn’t matter! Because a day in the car never means just “driving from A to B” but rather discovering so many exciting and unexpected things along the way, absorbing the atmosphere deeply and getting to know the country and its people. In order for such a road trip to be an all-round successful travel experience, there are a few things to consider. We learned a lot during our trip around the world, and we already took some things into account beforehand. And so that you are well prepared for the next big tour (through Italy, Canada, the USA, Australia or wherever), I have put together ten road trip tips for you here.
Ten valuable road trip tips
1. When this article first went online six years ago, it was all about navigation system tips. Of course, that has changed drastically in recent years. Worldwide you can navigate wonderfully with Google Maps and Co with your smartphone. Important when planning your trip: Be sure to clarify beforehand that you have sufficient data volume at your travel destination to use the apps and be able to access the navigation at any time.
Many maps can be downloaded for offline use and most tariffs now allow Europe-wide internet use. For Australia, USA and Co, simply buy a SIM card for the respective country upon arrival at the airport. This is not only relevant for Internet use on a road trip, but also if you break down somewhere in the middle of nowhere and urgently need to make a phone call.
2. However, on a road trip you should only follow the route given by the navigation system to a limited extent. Always plan the perfect route with a map (or Google Maps) beforehand and don’t blindly rely on the navigation system, which usually selects the fastest route. For example in California you would never drive on the famous California State Route 1 like this. Once you have chosen your own personal route, you can place so-called pins on Google Maps and Co for various stopovers during the journey to a specific destination.
3. One of the most important road trip tips: refuel in good time! Sounds so banal, but it is really super important. It is best to always refuel when the tank is still a third full. Because in the Australian outback there can be no gas station for 300 kilometers. And standing still somewhere in the middle of nowhere is no fun at all.
4. Be sure to download your favorite songs to your smartphone in advance (we use Spotify, where we create playlists beforehand) so that they are available offline and can be played in the car via Bluetooth. Because you can’t always rely on the radio. No wonder, why should you have good reception somewhere in the desert?
The right food for a road trip
5. Always take enough drinks with you. The best thing to do is buy a canister of water in the supermarket and keep refilling the bottle, or hoard lots of large bottles in the trunk. A) When the temperature is high, you should always drink a lot. B) A bottle of water is empty far too quickly. C) In numerous regions there is no possibility to buy supplies for many kilometers and drinks at the gas station are unnecessarily expensive.
6. In general, you should always have a few other snacks with you, preferably fruit and small nibbles. So always stock up on provisions in the supermarket. We once made the mistake of thinking “we’ll find something to eat on the way” and found neither a diner nor a supermarket within 150 miles (which takes a long time in the US). We ended up having a bag of chips and candy bars for lunch.
7. If you can plan it somehow, stay at major tourist attractions/popular cities during the weekdays and choose a “somewhere in the middle of nowhere” motel on the weekends. Weekend prices are usually twice as high and in our opinion there is absolutely no advantage to being in a city on a weekend anyway. After all, you not only save during the week, the stay is also much more relaxed with a fraction of the weekend tourists. Tickets for various fixed events such as musicals, shows etc. are usually cheaper during the week, and in many restaurants it is not possible to get a table on the weekends without a reservation.
8th. Logically, you always have your car with you on a road trip. In tourist hot spots in particular, you can also use this to book a motel a bit outside of the city center, since you don’t have to rely on public transport. This often saves half of the overnight price and gives hotel/motel rooms with significantly more space.
Road trip no-gos
9. In general, you can see a lot more on secondary roads than on the freeways (see point two). Rather plan a few hours more for the journey and accept less than perfect road conditions (the road trip motto should NEVER be “get to your destination as quickly as possible!”) and see a lot more of the country and nature in return.
10 Under no circumstances book all accommodations in advance, that way you are much more flexible, can let yourself drift and stay longer in a beautiful place.
So, and now it’s your turn: What experiences have you already had and what road trip tips can you give? Did we forget something super important?
Our personal road trip highlights
1. From Perth to Esperanto in Western Australia
2. The Garden Route in South Africa
3. By car from Germany to Mallorca
4. Our Italy road trip from Munich to Apulia
5. The Great Ocean Road in Australia
6. The east coast of Australia: from Port Douglas to Sydney
7. A road trip on the North Island of New Zealand
8th. The most beautiful Hawaii road trip: the Road to Hana in the north of Maui
9. Miami to Clearwater
10 An Austria road trip with stops in Tyrol, Salzburg and Vienna