By Sajjad Akhtar
Traveling with friends, whether it is in your own country or overseas, can create life-long memories and form the basis of friendships that last for decades. The good news is that the concept of the road trip is enjoying a comeback and has become increasingly popular. With options such as car leasing services and zero down payment cars making vehicle ownership more accessible than ever, more and more people are hitting the road today.
There can be stumbling blocks to successful road trips, though, and recognizing them early and dealing with them in advance can only enhance your journey. Here are what we believe to be the top eight.
Sharing the driving will help keep driver fatigue at bay, and will also give other members of your party the opportunity to contribute. Taking your turn at being the navigator or entertainment organizer, or simply admiring the scenery from the passenger’s seat, will give some variety and help to keep things interesting. Just taking a break from looking at the road ahead and the cars around you will add a new perspective to the journey.
Most of us know that GPS devices are fallible. Always carry a map or map book with you so that you can see the bigger picture of where you are going and where you’ve been. Making notes on your map can also give you the added bonus of having a handy trip diary. Each member of your party can contribute notes along the way, too.
If you have done your pre-departure planning correctly, you should have no need to speed in order to reach your day’s destination on time. If your passengers are urging you to pick up speed and go beyond the set limits, have the strength to ignore them and remain steadfast in staying safe while driving. In addition, don’t succumb to road rage if the drivers of other vehicles are taunting or tailgating you.
It sometimes happens that not long after leaving a rest stop, a member of your road trip party may need to use the restroom. There is nothing deliberate in their need, and making them wait until the next planned stop is just mean. Don’t waste a stop – even if you don’t feel the need to go right away, visit the restroom anyway so that everyone can be comfortable.
Regardless of the length of your road trip, one of you is bound to get hungry or thirsty at some point. Stopping too frequently can wear thin very quickly, so be prepared. Have a good supply of both savory and sweet snacks, including healthy bars or trail mix. Staying hydrated is important, especially in summer months, so be sure to carry extra water with you, too.
By focusing solely on the journey rather than on the destination as well, you will understand that by sticking to the highways and plowing straight through from rest stop to rest stop, you will miss out on visiting places and landmarks that could become highlights of your trip. Do some research beforehand to see where these are, and take the time to turn off the highway and see what is going on beyond the asphalt.
Your group should agree before you set out that it’s okay to deviate from your plan if it means you can take the time to swim at a beach, or stop to get something from that ice cream van with 101 mouthwatering flavors.
You may be anxious to reach your destination, but you also need to stop the car, get out, and walk around for your mental and physical health. Trying to save time by using a drive-thru and eating in the car is nuts (and the smell of greasy food wrappers will likely become very unpleasant very quickly!). Consider ordering your food and then taking it to a nearby park or the waterfront – the change of scenery and fresh air will do wonders for your concentration and give you a chance to have some eye contact with your traveling companions.
Finally, if driving in a foreign country, make sure you understand more than just how to drive there. For instance, in Russia you may be fined as much as 2000 roubles if your car is extremely dirty – it pays to keep your car clean! Ignorance of local rules and customs, coupled with a language barrier, could mean the end of your road trip adventure.
Discussing these road trip planning tips with your travel companions before you leave can eliminate any friction that applying them on the drive may cause.
Have a safe and happy road trip!
Sajjad Akhtar is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Quicklease Car Rentals, a one-stop shop for all vehicle rental requirements, including short-term rentals and long-term leasing. Sajjad specializes in vehicle leasing, vehicle hire & limousine businesses in the Middle East and has a solid background in brand building, awareness, and conceptualizing, planning and execution of marketing campaigns.