International road trips are preferable to every other way of traveling due to the sense of freedom and independence they provide. When you’re taking a trip in your own vehicle you can make all the stops you want and enjoy the experience as a local would.
However, driving for days if not weeks can get a bit uncomfortable if you don’t prepare for it. For the most part, it’s an easy enough thing to do and it’s about anticipating your needs beforehand.
Plan Out Your Breaks
It’s important that you take enough breaks during your trip and that you don’t spend more than 3 or 4 hours driving at any time. This also gives you a structure for the trip, allowing you to visit tourist destinations or take breaks to buy gas, or grab a meal while resting from driving.
Planning out your breaks and stops is especially important if a big portion of your trip will be away from cities and therefore you need to use the breaks to stock up on snacks or gas. With modern GPS technology, this is easy enough to do.
Make Sure You Have Maps Available
Having maps on hand during your trip is easy enough if you’re visiting a large city or a heavily populated part of the country. In most cases, this means you’ll be able to navigate using the maps on your phone.
However, if you’re visiting a part of the country that’s mostly rural and there are no large cities in the area, you should invest in GPS devices for your vehicle. If you’re renting out a vehicle, using a GPS device is an additional expense, especially because it comes with its own insurance policy.
Keeping Your Documents up to Date
There are a few documents that you need to bring along on an international trip. The most important of these will be an international driving permit issued by the InternationalDriversAssociation. It’s a document you need to have on your person if you plan to drive abroad.
Alongside the permit, you’ll also need a national driving license and a photo ID document (in most cases this will be a passport). All of these documents need to be valid and an international permit expires in a year, while a national permit lasts five. That way you can drive calmly and avoid any issues with local traffic authorities.
Stretch Your Legs
How you spend your breaks is equally as important as the fact that you need to take them often enough. It’s not a good idea to spend all your breaks sitting since that’s what you’ll do in the car.
Take the time to walk a bit on every break. This is both good for your health, and a way to keep you focused on driving and therefore safer on the road as well. The best way to go is to use these breaks to explore the place you’re visiting.
Bring Your Own Snacks
Snacks are an essential part of every road trip and especially so if you’re traveling with kids. It’s better if the snacks are homemade and healthy than relying on the ones you can find at any gas station or store.
It’s also important that you stay hydrated during the trip, especially so if you’re driving while the temperatures are high. The same goes for drinks – preparing your own means you can avoid the high sugar drinks that you would otherwise get, at least for the time being.
Prepare The Entertainment
Long rides can become somewhat monotonous even if you’re through beautiful countryside. That’s why you need to prepare some entertainment for the road. If you’re traveling with kids, this is also a good way to keep them busy and therefore calm during the long stretches of a road trip, when there’s not that much to do.
This can be done with books, podcasts, or games, depending on what your kids are into. A vacation and a trip abroad shouldn’t be an excuse for the kids to let go of their reading plans and habits. That’s something you should agree on before the trip.
There are a few simple things you could do to make your ride more comfortable. For instance, make sure you have comfortable clothes and shoes for the ride. It’s also a good idea to have a pillow with you, and neck pillows are especially useful as well.
It’s also useful to have a blanket packed away somewhere since temperatures can drop quite quickly even if you’re in a desert at the moment. Every passenger should have their own blanket and their own pillow and that includes the kids.
What Medication to Bring Along?
If you’re taking any medication on a regular basis you should bring them along on your trip. Be mindful of the dose and the refills so that you have enough to cover the whole trip without having to look for the medication in a foreign country. Make an appointment with your doctor before the trip.
It’s also a good idea to have headache medicine and anti-nausea medication with you as well. These are the most common discomfort issues that you’ll face as you spend a lot of the time behind the wheel and you should be prepared for it.
While you’re traveling, make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by the process and the tasks at hand. Instead, take the time to be mindful of your surroundings and the experiences you’re having. This can be done simply by taking the time to stop everything you’re doing and enjoy the country you’re visiting or by taking notes and writing a small diary during your trip.
There’s a lot to do when you’re driving on your own, but driving should just be a means to an end, and that’s taking control of your trip and actually enjoying it more than you would when someone else controls your itinerary. This too sometimes requires a little effort.