I have a love hate relationship with road trips. I love them because you get to see so much during a drive. You can stop when you want to and explore. See something that sparks your interest? Pull over and check it out. You are on your own time. I hate them, because sometimes I get a little car sick. In all honesty though, some of my most memorable experiences have been road trips.
Through the many road trips I have taken, I have created memories that will last a lifetime. I have seen world wonders like the Grand Canyon. I have taken in the views of the California oceanfront. I have dipped my toes in the turquoise waters of Lake Louise. The experiences have been truly special.
I have had the chance to plan two very different kinds of road trips. Some had a very strict timeline. Hotels were booked in advance and the itinerary set in (almost) stone. Others were a go with the flow kind of trip. I would see a town I liked and I would stop there for the night at the first 3 star hotel I could find on the map. It was carefree and adventurous. Deciding which type of road trip to do is completely up to you and your travel preferences. Today I just want to share with you some of my favourite road trips and how to make sure your road trip experience is enjoyable.
Favourite Road Trips
Toronto to Vancouver
This road trip was particularly enjoyable for me because I got to explore the place I call home. I have lived in Canada for most of my life, but there are so many places in my own backyard I have yet to discover. This road trip gave me a chance to see more of the country. I got to see the lakes and parks of Northern Ontario. The flat farming lands of the Prairies. The unbelievable beautiful mountains of the Rockies. It truly was an incredible experience and one that I think every Canadian should try.
Nevada & Arizona
I have written a lot about this road trip because it was spectacular. If you are at all interested in photography, this is the dream road trip. It included stops at the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Upper Antelope Canyon. Each stop unique and breathtaking. The great thing about this trip is every destination is just a few hours apart so you can enjoy the views for longer. A little tip, make sure to have your camera nearby because there is so much beauty along the way.
Pacific Coast Highway
This is the road trip of all road trips. Twisting your way along the coast of California you transition from hundred year old green forests to palm trees along the beach. I did a bit of a condensed version, a weekend from San Fransisco to San Diego. The views along this drive are magnificent. Ocean on your right, rocky cliff on your left. Not for the faint of heart. Make sure to take the time to stop at secluded beaches along the way to stretch your legs. My personal favourite stop had to be Big Sur.
North of Spain to South of France
This was the road trip that I left up to my GPS and chance and it was amazing. I started the drive in Barcelona and finished in Cannes. I didn’t have a single hotel booked along the way. I would stop in towns that looked appealing and beautiful, ones that had oceanfront views or interesting architecture. Once I decided where I wanted to stay overnight, I would search nearby hotels in my GPS. The trip included 5 star luxury stays, beach front motels, and even a hotel that doubled as an art gallery dedicated to Gaudi. It was the adventure of a life time.
Planning the Perfect Road Trip
Again what type of road trip to take is completely up to you. Are you the kind of person that likes to have a plan in place or one that likes to go with the flow? Here are my top road trip tips to make sure that no matter what you chose, it is going to be an unforgettable vacation.
- Be safe: Driving in an unfamiliar country or on unfamiliar roads can be a little scary so make sure you have the right equipment to have a safe trip. Pay extra for road side assistance from the rental company. Make sure you have a map and compass in your car in case you enter a zone that has no cell reception. Have a blanket in the car in case it breaks done. Have proper tools in case of a flat. There is nothing worse then something going wrong in a foreign place and being unprepared to handle it.
- Familiarize yourself with the area you are traveling: I speak French fluently, so I felt comfortable driving around in France, however ahead of the trip I made sure to familiarize myself with the route I was taking. I tried to understand how far each city was from one another so even without a planned stop, I still knew I wasn’t going to be stranded in a small town after too many hours on the road. Make sure you feel confident that you know where you are heading.
- Try to avoid driving at night: When I drove the Pacific Coast I made a grave mistake. I started the drive too late in the day and had already booked my hotel for the following night. By doing so, I ended up driving one of the scariest roads in the pitch black. Not only did I miss out on the stunning views, but I also didn’t really feel safe. Try and time out the trip properly so you avoid driving in the dark. Plus how can you take insta worthy pictures of the views when you can’t even see them?
- Go hands free: Another huge safety aspect is making sure you are able to drive hands free. Driving in an unfamiliar place you are probably going to need a GPS. Ask the car company if they have ones for rent because they usually come with a proper mount. If you would rather use your phone or own device, make sure you have something to mount it in the car. I personally love the QLYX. It is small enough to travel with, super easy to use, and comes with some awesome features.
- Pack Snacks: You don’t really know when you might be able to eat from meal to meal so it is important to have snacks readily available. Have a cool bag to keep water, drinks, and snacks available for the long haul.
- Have gas: Gas is a good thing for a long road trip. The last thing you want to do is run out so make sure you are prepared or at least know where you can fuel up along the way.
- Factor in your must sees: Sure, it might just take a few hours to get from A to B, but don’t forget to factor in the places you want to stop along the way. If you are doing the road trip with someone else, make sure you are both clear on the stops you want to make along the way so that no one misses out and you can still leave yourself enough time to get from one spot to the next. Another important part of this is to make sure you plan your stops properly. During my cross Canada drive, I really wanted to see Moraine Lake in Banff. I didn’t take into consideration it was a long weekend and the park was packed. I didn’t get to see the lake because we didn’t arrive early enough and I was pretty disappointed. Lesson learned for next time.
- Music is everything: Alright, now that we have the safety tips out of the way it is time for the fun. Spending long hours on the road is so much more enjoyable when you have some great music to rock out to. I usually make a road trip playlist on Spotify before I start my journey. That way I know I won’t have to listen to commercials on the radio or deal with static from one city to the next. I can just jam and enjoy. Can’t agree on what music to listen too? Only fair that everyone gets a turn to play DJ in the car.
- Plan some fun: Check out the site roadtrippers. It has a ton of quirky road sights to different accommodations from around the globe which can help make the trip a little more interesting.
- Be a local: The amazing thing about a road trip is you are driving alongside the locals, so why not really embrace the culture you are experiencing by staying away from chain restaurants and hotels.
Well now that I have shared with you some of my favourite road trips as well as how to make the trip safe and enjoyable, it is time for you to hit the open roads. Are you planning a road trip, or have done an awesome trip that isn’t on my list? I would love for you to share with me in the comments below.
Happy traveling my friends. I know I cannot wait to go M.I.A. again.