When asked what countries were my favorite from my last around the world tour, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Balkans always top the list. Of the 50 countries my girlfriend and I hit on that trip, what sets these ones apart? Well, the simple fact that we actually got to see the country we were visiting. These are the countries where we rented a car and hit the road. In doing so we got to see so much more than just flying in and out of the major centers. As awesome as this was, it also presented some challenges and stress that tested both my patience and my relationship. Still, these countries that I drove through top my favorite list, thanks in part to this list of relationships saving road trip tips.
1) Know where you’re going
Raise your hand if you have fought with your significant other while on a road trip in a different country. Leave that hand raised if you fought over directions. Is your arm getting tired? It may sound simple but my biggest relationships saving road trip tip is to know where you are going… always. Have a plan and execute it. I don’t just mean go to Belfast today and Derry tomorrow, I mean pre-load your hotel addresses in your phones (plural) and add in any detours you’re taking along the way. Google maps works even if you don’t have data coverage so punch it in before you head out. Better yet, purchase a local or global sim card and ensure your area is covered…and don’t forget the phone charger!
Not getting lost is a huge stress saver. Getting lost can ruin an otherwise flawless trip and that frustration is shared with (or blamed on) those in the car. Save the fight, know where you are going.
2) Know where not to go
Almost as important as knowing where you’re going is knowing where not to go. Every city has its shady parts so avoiding them will avoid the stress of getting out of it.
That said, stay calm.
If you do end up lost or find yourself in a less than desirable place, stay calm. Retrace your route and get back on track. While driving the Garden Route in South Africa I took a wrong exit and ended up in a township (slum). Now this wouldn’t have been so bad if every expat and their dog didn’t tell us something terrible about driving in South Africa. “You’ll get robbed if you stop at stop signs” is something we heard more than a few times. So this situation did not sit so well with my girlfriend. Instead of panicking and breaking up then in there, I hit a roundabout and went back the way we came. Another horror story we kept hearing was dealing with crooked cops in the Balkans. So when I got pulled over for no apparent reason in Bosnia, I started to sweat. Again, instead of stressing I smiled my Canadian smile and then found out the officer pulled me over for not have my lights on, a requirement even during the day. This brings me to our next tip…
3) Know the roads
Now that you have a plan, know the roads and local laws. Are there tolls? If so ensure you have appropriate change and in the appropriate currency. How are road conditions? If poor plan an alternate route. Is your vehicle up to the task? If not consider an upgrade. You never want to hear an “I told you so” while white-knuckling through a mountain pass. Those are relationship time out words if I have ever heard them.
And if all goes wrong?
Laugh it off. Really, what else can you do? Getting frustrated because you got lost or can’t find parking by your hotel really isn’t your copilot’s problem. Shake it off Taylor Swift. Take solace in the fact that you are in a new country and experiencing new things. If things are really bad, treat yourself and your partner to a nice meal or a nice hotel and sleep it off.
The road is long. Enjoy the journey.
This road trip tips article first appeared on Auto Europe’s Blog written by Shaun Robertson.
Love it? Pin it!