Somewhere in Sequoia National Park, CA
As frequent road trippers and fresh from our #vanlife drive through some of California's National Parks, we have learned a thing or two in not just surviving, but making it an adventure to remember - albeit a comfortable and disaster-free one! Here's some hot tips:
PLAN + PACK
Put together a to-do list / to-pack list and check it twice – Although the idea of heading out into the wild on a whim can seem exhilarating, pretty soon you'll wish you had thought of bringing a few essentials to make your trip just that little bit more comfortable. Be prepared by putting together a comprehensive list of all of the things you need to do and pack before you set off. This should include all of the safety checks you need to carry out on your vehicle, clothing suitable for the journey's predicted weather and activities, any music playlists you need to put together (it's an essential, trust me!), any apps you need to download, and so on. You should start this list well in advance so that you have plenty of time to check over it. If you only put together the list a few days before you travel, you are bound to forget something that will seem very important once you're out there.
HIRE YOUR WHEELS OF CHOICE
Hire a van or four-wheel drive ready to ride – Instead of taking your own vehicle, why not hire a car? Make the most of 4WD hire so that you can tackle difficult terrain (and have plenty of space for all of your luggage). And if you can take a test drive prior to signing on the hiring line, do. Poor Ben was stuck with all the Cali driving because when I did have a go, (apart from freaking out about the wrong side of the road) the steering was super loose and boaty. White knuckles does not a leisurely drive make! The seats were also crazy uncomfortable and to be honest, we really should have spent a little more and rented a bigger van with a toilet and shower - there's just some places you don't want to risk your life making a dash to the dunny....hello bear country! Plus, you will be able to explore a greater number of places if you have a built in home on wheels, tackle any terrain in a four-wheel drive.
GET THE TECH
Technology is your (second) best friend on the road – Although you may be hitting the road to unwind and disconnect from tech to reconnect with yourself and the big wide world, it still can play a role in helping you do that. There are so many apps and gadgets that can make your journey easier and safer while also providing entertainment in the process. Of course, the most obvious is an up-to-date sat nav because Google maps won't get you everywhere and so you can keep moving even when there's no internet. You could use your phone if preferred, just pre-map your route and download it in case signal drops out. With either choose a solution that updates in real-time so you can always determine the fastest route. You can also get lots of apps that will entertain and educate you about the places you are visiting too. We took ourselves on a mid century modern home tour of Palm Springs, for example, just by searching for alternatives to the bus tour that had already departed without us. Then there's Spotify or the like for your location appropriate tunes, Trip Advisor or Google Reviews to help you find the best local eats, and YouTube to recon whether a certain area is worth that fork in the road detour. Meditation apps, camera apps, and maybe a bit of Insta can all also add to your ability to capture the moment and still be in it on the road. But it's certainly worth having a look at the app store before you set off.
Driving through Sequoia National Park, CA
Overall, think safety, comfort, entertainment, leaving nothing behind
and taking only the best memories home with you.
What's your best roadie rule you swear by?
Would you even?