“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”– Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Novels, films, songs may often portray road travel romantically and it is so, most of the time. But like everything else in our imperfect, non utopic existence on earth, traveling by road is neither easy nor risk-free. This little fact need not hinder our plans for future street sojourns. However, a few handy tips wouldn’t be amiss when you’re in unknown lands and there’s no one to watch your back.
Any traveler who is familiar with the road would ensure that his or her vehicle is in top-notch condition. This includes not only clean seats and proper storage but also good tires, brakes, battery and fuel filters.
However, remember that a shiny, new car is not the answer to your prayers. An old car in good condition and well repaired would suffice just as well. If you’re renting a car, ensure that it is in good condition and can tolerate a lengthy journey.
Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” This is a good motto to follow on a road trip. Avoid rushing to your destination through short cuts and rash driving. Instead, appreciate the journey, enjoy the sights along the way and take breaks when you’re tired instead of driving with your eyes half-closed.
Nevertheless, make some fixed plans if you want you and your vehicle to survive the trip. Check weather conditions on the route you’ll be taking. Inquire about inns and motels along the way unless you can be a happy camper in the woods or in your vehicle. Call in advance to check availability of rooms for the duration of your trip.
Travel light during a road trip, as lugging heavy bags in and out of motels would be cumbersome. However, pack essential items like snacks, first-aid kit, and clothes. In addition, books, games and favorite tunes will help you to stay relaxed and have fun along the way.
Carrying a map may seem to defeat the purpose of being spontaneous for some travelers. But in times of need, it will be a lifesaver. Exploring new roads is good, but wandering into the wrong ones might be unpleasant.