I love road trips. I find travelling through roads I’ve never been before a good way of experiencing new things and places, even if i don’t get to stop and experience, getting a taste of it is exciting enough. A road trip is one of the best ways of spending time together and bonding with mates and meeting new people along the way.
I’ve done several road trips across Kenya, South Africa, and Canada and they make some of my fondest memories. Even shorter road trips with family and friends have brought memorable experiences, and sometimes scary ones.
In 2015 when driving from Nanyuki, our car went off in the middle of nowhere at night. The battery was dead. The nearest small town- Kenol had all the shops closed so we had to get one of the drivers in our group tow our car to Thika. How lucky! Such things happen to us every day and it’s always better to embark on a road trip prepared both physically and mentally.
My dream is to do the Route 66, Cape to Cairo route, Nairobi – Kigali and Sydney-Perth cross-country trips. Can’t wait to cross that off my bucket list.
With that said, here are top 10 tried and tested tips to help you prepare for your upcoming road trip:
1. Check your car
This is perhaps the most important tip, and that’s why it comes first. Before going for a road trip, it’s important to take your car for a pre-trip check.
Here, your car doctor should check the following:
- Engine oil
- Tyre pressure and thread
- State of spare tyre
- Lights – Brake, indicator, fog, beam
Check the validity of your car insurance and road rescue membership validity like Automobile Association of Kenya (AA). Also, check inside your car for life savers and a fully stocked first aid kit. In some countries those two are mandatory.
2. Plan a route, a loose one
I tend to enjoy a trip more when i do a loose schedule rather than a tight one. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Stop whenever and wherever you find interesting and capture those selfies. Instagram awaits 😀
3. Create a playlist
Are you guilty of singing loud when driving? Or acting co-driver? Or are you usually the one on the back left/right who sings off key to Steppenwolf’s Born to be wild when supplying the driver and co-driver with snacks? Guess I’m guilty of all of them.
Preload your phone/USB with your favorite jams and DJ mixes for that epic road trip. Bring a CD with music and movies for entertainment options during your stop over. Most times, there will be no internet for Netflix.
4. Don’t starve in the car
Who gets hungry in the first hour of driving? Or who has a big appetite like me? What to do?
- Pack snacks
- Stop over at a pit stop and grab a coffee or snacks if you didn’t pack some.
- Carry enough water – if going to Northern Kenya or any other deserted area pack water and food (non-perishable) enough for 2 days. Call me a pessimist but in case you find yourself in an unexpected situation, you’ll have drinking water and food to carry you through before help comes.
5. Stay in touch
Cellphone network may not be good so plan for that. You may not be able to access the internet in some areas which means whatsapp will definitely not be a communication means.
Let someone know your loose route plan before you leave. Inform them of your intended accommodation and the type of car you’re driving, if you’re not driving your car.
Have necessary emergency contacts like the Kenya Red Cross E-plus (+254 700395395/ +254 738395395), St. John’s ambulance (+254 721225285/ +254 (0) 202210000 ) or the police (112 or 999).
6. Stay safe
Booze is popular in most road trips. You didn’t leave your house for that scenic road trip to die on the road. Stay safe, please. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. It’s equally stupid.
Driving can be exhausting. Make random stops to stretch your arms, legs and back. They’ll thank you later. Avoid driving at night. If you must, bring a flashlight
7. Don’t plan your stops beforehand
You want your trip to be random, spontaneous and epic. I find earmarking all the stops in my trip plan makes it too predictable. And i don’t want that. It’s always fun to stop whenever and wherever, is safe.
8. Carry some cash
Regardless of whether you’re travelling across a remote area or the city, some petty cash is necessary just in case you need to buy something.
9. Bring a camera
There are more than a thousand photographic possibilities during a road trip. Imagine driving across Cape Town or down the scenic Calgary – Banff road or even the Great Rift Valley in Kenya.
A camera with a wide angle lens will be more than a necessity. Remember to charge it and pack a spare battery and memory stick.
10. What to wear/Carry for a Road trip
- Wear whatever you feel comfortable in 🙂 In some destinations, however, it could get chilly at night even in summer months so it’s advisable to pack a jacket/sweater.
- A bug spray is good too if you’re driving through an inhabited place/swampy tropical areas.
- Bed pillows and blankets (shuka) for back support and power nap.
- Paper towels, toilet paper, wet wipes and garbage bags. You never know when car sickness comes knocking.
- Car charger/back up battery/ power bank
In a nutshell…
- Start early
- Know your limits
- Stop and park at a gas station or safe roadside if you feel exhausted
- Don’t drink and drive
- Don’t text/ use your phone when driving
- Co-driver, keep your driving ‘advice’ to yourself. Nagging or correcting the driver doesn’t help
- Pack dried food/water enough for 2 days
Do you love road trips? What role do you play – driver, co-driver or cheerleader? Share your crazy memories in the comments section.
Carolina | My Global Attitude