A guide to road tripping for beginners

By Garry Orvold | Guides

Oct 09

There is nothing better than the freedom of the open road! The appeal of being completely in charge of your time, schedule, and destination is compelling to all of us with hectic lives. I wanted to pass along a few things I’ve learned over the years, and hope it will help you in making your adventure the best ever.

Is it the Journey or the Destination?

Do you want to “just get there”, or do you want to see and experience as much as you can along the way? Neither is right or wrong, but it is an important thing to think about when deciding on your route, as well as how much time you will need for your adventure.

How many hours a day do you want to be driving?

I like to use Google Maps or a similar program to outline my initial travel plan (remember to include returning home!). Have a look at the total driving time required. Does it meet the amount of time each day you wish to be in the vehicle? Build in some flexibility to be able to enjoy unexpected attractions along the way (who knew that winery was here!) I have been guilty too many times of being overly aggressive in my trip route, and not having the time to explore everything I discovered along the way.

What do you want to see or do on your trip?

Do some research ahead of time to get an idea of what you can expect to find along the way. You don’t need to plan every detail, but having an idea of what is available will allow you to get maximum enjoyment from your trip. Again, I have been guilty of this in the past and wished that I had done just a little bit more research ahead of my trip. Don’t miss out on something amazing just because you didn’t plan.

What are your accommodation requirements?

Are you looking for camping facilities, local motels, upscale hotels, B&B’s? Are these types of accommodation available on your route? Do they require reservations in advance or can you simply drop in?

Obviously the more flexibility you have with your accommodation requirements, the less actual planning you will have to do prior to your trip. There is nothing worse after a long day of driving to find out there’s no suitable accommodation available in your area. Hotels may require reservations, especially during peak travel seasons.

Personally, I don’t like to make reservations ahead of time since it ties me to a schedule that I am trying to avoid. For the most part, it has always worked out, but I have ended up staying in some very “interesting” motels and hotels that may or may not be acceptable to everyone. To me, it’s all part of the adventure and makes for great photos and stories. Not everyone will share that opinion, though!

Travelling with a friend?

Travelling with another person can make your trip so much more enjoyable, but you should have some discussions ahead of time to get an idea of what they want to do on the trip. You may be surprised to find out how different people can be when you are with them for an extended period of time, especially in close quarters like a car.

Consider these questions:

  • What do they want to experience on the journey?
  • Are they expecting to travel the same amount of time per day as you are thinking? What are their accommodation preferences?
  • What does “morning” mean to them?

Having these discussions ahead of time can save a lot of grief and hard feelings later on. Obviously, the art of compromise is important. You don’t always need to be on the same page, but you should at least be in the same book.

Make sure your vehicle is ready for the adventure

While this seems obvious, make sure to have your vehicle serviced and ready for the trip ahead. Mechanical repairs on the road can be difficult, especially in remote or smaller communities. They can also be very expensive and, depending upon the issue, may take a significant amount of time (perhaps days) to be completed. While you cannot anticipate everything that may happen, a thorough servicing ahead of time will minimize the chances of this occurring.

If you have concerns about the condition of your vehicle, renting might be an alternative to consider.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you have found it informative and that it makes your next (or first) road trip experience as enjoyable as possible.

Road tripping is one of my greatest passions. here is simply no substitute for the open road and the anticipation of what lies ahead. If you haven’t had the chance to experience it, I hope you can give it a try! You may have found your next passion as well!

Safe Journeys and Happy Trails ahead!

What advice do you have for road trip beginners?


About the Author

Garry Orvold is a retired Banker, road trip enthusiast, and aspiring blogger. Currently residing in Ontario, Canada and always looking for the next adventure. Follow him on Twitter @Orvold42.