The Allure of the Road Trip
It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate of the road trip. I’m sure a part of that is to do with the fact that as a non-driver I get chauffeured around, but I think it’s more an appreciation of the freedom that a road trip gives you over taking a train, bus, or plane.
Growing up in relatively isolated country towns such as Ben Lomond, Tibooburra, and Menindee – every holiday required the family to pile into the Land Cruiser and embark on a drive that went anywhere from 5 – 24 hours.
Along with memories of Dad’s mixtape of Sting, Phil Collins, and Dire Straits; I also recall the disappointment of being told dinner would be fish cakes rather than McDonalds, and the whistle of the engine once the car had stopped and we’d arrived at our destination – often well after dark.
Those early road trips had an enduring impact, and there are few ways I’d rather travel than in the passenger seat (or the backseat, at a pinch) of a car – tunes blaring, snacks on hand, and adventures ahead to be had.
Most recently, my brothers and I took the six hour drive from Ben Lomond to Windsor in western Sydney, before Roma from Roaming Required and I took a scenic three hour drive from Sydney up to the Broke Fordwich region.
With a rental provided by Redspot Sixt, all we had to provide was the entertainment and the snacks.
Five Road Trip Essentials
A good road trip has a few essential ingredients, and below you’ll find the five that I find most necessary.
#5 – Snacks
Whether it’s a can of Mother and some Twisties in Australia, a Big Gulp & Twizzlers in the US, or a Perky Nana & Coke in New Zealand – a good road trip needs some thoroughly unhealthy snacks to keep energy levels up when the view loses its luster.
While you can go down the healthy route with sliced fruit, sunflower seeds, and *shudder* water, that’s like going to a five star restaurant and ordering the salad.
Save the calorie counting for when you’re back in the office.
#4 – A Car Charger
In these days where being without electronics is tantamount to one of those dreams where you go to school naked, even a few hours without the phone can feel like an eternity. Chained to work or just needing some Tinder time when the conversation flags, the age of the smartphone has assured nobody need be bored on the road.
Even when there’s no signal; games, music, movies, and books are all just a swipe away. I don’t even know how parents dealt with unruly kids in the time before smartphones and tablets.
As many of us have found it, however; searching for signal burns through your battery. A phone that normally lasts a day suddenly dies within a couple of hours, and even if you can make do without it on the road – chances are you’ll need it to search for directions or bring up your reservation details when you do reach your destination.
On our recent weekend in Broke Fordwich, Roma and I were lucky enough to have an opportunity to road test the Kensington Powerbolt Dual Fast Charge Car Charger. While it’s true that there isn’t a great deal of innovation left in something as tried and tested as the car charger, I do like the spin that Kensington has put on the design, offering a charger that not only charges two devices – but also caters to the fact that not everybody has upgraded to the iOS devices with Lightning Cables.
The charger comes with an in built Lightning Cable, which does mean you don’t have to bring yours along for the ride – but for those with other USB charged devices (including non Apple devices and even the Kindle), there’s also a USB outlet you can use with your existing power cable.
While I don’t drive enough myself to warrant buying one, the charger in question has found a loving home with my brothers and their daily commute to and from work.
#3 – Car games
When conversation just won’t cut it, it’s handy to know a few games. This is doubly true if you’ve got a couple of restless kids in the back and don’t want to entrust your electronics to their grubby little hands.
From old favourites like “I Spy” or “Twenty Questions”, to more sophisticated games such as “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” – a good game can pass the time when the scenery turns repetitive. I’m putting together a list of grown up car games to share with you in the next couple of days, so keep an eye out! Essential reading for any road, train, bus, or plane tripper.
#2 – Good company
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that good company can make a bad trip great, and bad company can ruin even the most fantastic of destinations. In the past I’ve talked about the ten people you should never travel with, so be sure to check that your travel companion to be doesn’t fit into any of those groups!
There’s no real checklist you can use when you’re preparing for a road trip, and that’s doubly true if you’re just looking to get from Point A to Point B and you’re not spoiled for choice.
A good road trip companion can hold up their end of the conversation, isn’t too demanding or picky when it comes to food, and has a relaxed attitude to pit stops, scenic detours, and the inadvertent disasters that strike from time to time.
Their skills ought to cover areas that yours do not. If you’re a crack Google Maps navigator, maybe you need somebody who knows how to make a good mix tape or has a stockpile of funny stories to help pass the time.
#1 – The mix tape
Is it controversial that I think the mix tape (or mix CD, Spotify playlist, or iTunes Playlist) is more important than a good companion?
When your phone dies and the conversation dries up, the last thing you want is a long and awkward silence as the kilometres tick by.
A good mix tape isn’t just there to fill the silence. It can lift flagging spirits, prompt a spontaneous singalong, or even reboot the conversation as you reminisce, discuss, or debate the merits of a certain song.
I’m currently working on my ultimate road trip playlist, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
Above all else, it’s important to stay safe when driving. This is especially true over long distances.
It goes without saying that you should always wear a seat belt and always get plenty of rest.
If you’re traveling with young adventurers, make sure you’ve got a safe child-friendly seat. You can check out reviews on Carseatexperts.com to find the best fit for your little one.
What are your road trip must haves?
Do you have any mixtape or road trip game suggestions? I’d love to hear them!