How To Prepare For a Road Trip Holiday

…so good, they even converted *this* travel-hater

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Given that I’m lucky enough to travel a fair amount with work, when it came to our honeymoon Mark got to spin the wheel and decide where we would go. When he said that he fancied a road trip around New Zealand, I had to admit that that wouldn’t have been my first choice. I’m not exactly wild about travel (plane travel especially brings me out with a severe case of the sweaty hands – YAY 26 HOUR FLIGHT), so I quite like the idea of travelling to a destination and plonking myself in that spot for the entirety of the trip, sprinkled with the occasional excursion here and there. I equated minimal travel with maximum relaxation. A road trip where you drive the length and breadth of your destination, moving on to a new spot every couple of days just didn’t feel like it would be my cup of tea. How wrong I was, eh? 18 months after our New Zealand return, we’re off to give California that same road trip treatment. Here’s why it won me over and my top tips for planning one…

I thought I’d be tired of moving on all the time and bored of the driving, but actually doing it felt the complete opposite. We always made sure we had at least two nights in each place so that we didn’t arrive somewhere and have to duck out the next morning, which allowed us to feel just a bit settled and make the most of each stop we made. Then the driving was actually really fun. Podcasts and playlists helped to while away the time and you’re somewhere new after all and so the sights outside the window aren’t ones that you want to miss. NO NAPPING HERE. We found ourselves stopping often and discovering hidden gems and incredible views from tracks leading off the side of the road and the whole thing felt like an adventure. My inner Virgo loved the efficiently; you get to see a lot in a short-ish space of time so you really make the most of your destination. The excitement of always seeing something new and that never wearing thin, made up for the deep levels of chill you’d feel from being glued to a sun-bed for seven days.

The only drawback? THE PLANNING. Instead of booking your flights and accommodation for one destination; you’re booking multiple stays, car hire, parking, finding things to do and places to eat in each place that you’re staying and trying to work out routes and the tempo of your trip. It’s a beefy task. There are companies that can do this for you, or you can book on a pre-planned trip with stops and stays that are set out for you, however we’ve always planned each one ourselves. Doing research online, asking friends and family and you lot for advice (THANK YOU FOR THAT!) and working out a route that’s personalised to us and where we want to visit and stay along the way. So to help you out with the most stressful part, here are some considerations to take in as part of the planning process…


SPLASH OUT ON YOUR WHEELS. It might be tempting to splash out on the cheapest car rental you can find, but if you’re going to be completing long journeys in your new set of wheels then it’s worth making sure that you’re hiring something that is über comfortable to ride in. It might mean that it’s not the prettiest car on the block, but a big boot for luggage and a nice squishy seat that doesn’t make you bum go numb, can go a long way.

DOWNLOAD MAPS OFFLINE. Paper maps are old school and brilliant and I’m sure if Mark had his way then the walls of our flat would be completely covered with them, but when you’re not sure if you need to go left or right and have no idea what way you’re even facing and you’re beginning to think that this road trip was the worst idea you’ve ever had, trying to unfold and read a proper map is hell. Trust me. Google allows you to download maps offline. Do it and spare yourself a blazing row.

STOP (LIKE, ALL THE TIME). Know that a five hour drive will probably take you six. A three hour drive can reach the four hour mark. Of course there’s often traffic, or diversions or other route-changers that are out of your hands, but you’re on H-O-L-I-D-A-Y – there ain’t no rush! If you see something at the side of the road that takes your fancy, then stop to take a look. Mark and I both being the impatient types that just like to get it done, this took us a while to get used to, but it breaks up the driving and you might have the highlight of your trip thanks to a jaw-dropping view from the side of the road. Factor this in to your travel times.

PLAN YOUR PARKING. For each hotel or airbnb you book, make sure you’ve considered where you’re going to park at each spot too and make it a task with just as much priority as working out where you’re going to stay. You might be able to claw back some of your budget by booking early or buying parking as a bundle with your accommodation and you’re definitely going to safe on time. Lugging your bags from a car park that’s half a mile away from your hotel just isn’t the one.

KEEP IT. Maybe there’s a day or three in your itinerary where you won’t need a car and you might be tempted to drop it off and pick up a new one when you need the transport again. Sure, it might be cheaper and save you some parking costs, but it might just save you a whole lot of bother if you just suck up the cost and keep your original car. Saves you a back and forth trip to the car hire place and means that you don’t have to completely pack up your belongings mid-trip, which I can confirm is THE WORST as by this point your car is your second hotel room.


So that’s it from me for now. Blog posts will return May 27th as I plan on doing a wee bit of writing whilst I’m away and there will be weekly California vlog drops each Sunday morning at 9am so you can see what we’re getting up to; probably eating, buying out the stockroom of Sephora and eating some more. The planning document for this trip was seven pages long (LOL – I’m just such a chill, ‘go with the flow’ kind of character), so I promise there will be a MEGA California travel guide when I’m back, complete with photos from the 10 rolls of film that we’re taking (See? So chill and taking it easy and not over-packing or over-planning at all). Have a good one, stay safe and see you then!

Photos by Emma Croman

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