Episode 5


By Norbert Figueroa

Whether it’s a relaxed drive along the stunning US Route 66 or an adventurous cross-continental journey in Europe and Asia, the experience of a road trip is one that will undoubtedly create an experience of a lifetime.

As an adventurous traveler myself, I’ve done several road trips, including the insane Mongol Rally driving 1/3 of the planet from London to Mongolia in 47 days, another road trip hopping between waterfalls in Iceland, and a highlights-focused trip along the US west coast.

Through all of my experiences, I’ve learned a lot about road trip planning. Here, I’ll share with you my top tips that’ll help you plan your next adventurous road trip.

1. Plan Your Route and Itinerary by Mapping Points of Interest, but Stay Flexible

Start by planning your route based on the highlights you’re interested in seeing. Are there key dates to take into account when planning? These could be festivals or holidays or even people you’d like to see during your journey.

List and locate these on a map, then take a macro look at it to start tracing logical routes to include all those highlights.

But, be flexible and open to deviating. Traveling is a dynamic experience. Sometimes, no matter how well you plan things, there is simply not enough time to do everything. And there may be new activities that pop-up once you’re on the road. I always recommend planning some downtime to either rest or use it as flexible “extra” time.

2. Stay on Top of Any Necessary Visas and Your Car’s Paperwork

If you’re traveling outside of the country, are you visiting more than one country? Do you need visas? If so, how many?

Depending on your passport and the visited countries, some visas have to be arranged beforehand or on arrival. Visas give you a limited time in each country, so it’s essential to have an idea of how long you’ll spend in each place. Make sure everyone in the car has the same valid dates on their visas.

Some car rentals allow you to cross from the US to Canada with no issue, as well as between most Western European countries within the “free-movement” Schengen Area. But some countries in Eastern Europe will require you to go through a more rigorous border inspection and purchase their insurance.

Make sure to research this information prior to your road trip, each country in your itinerary might be different! Also, make sure your car rental allows you to cross borders with their vehicle.

3. Your Companions Are Influential on the Level of Adventure

Not everyone is the same type of traveler, so if you’re going on a road trip with friends, make sure they have a similar drive for adventure and a compatible travel style.

If I know I’m looking for an adventurous road trip, I choose friends that I know will enhance the experience.. Whoever you’re sharing the journey with should complement the experience (and turn it into something even more amazing!).

4. Stay Safe, Not Tired

Tiredness, traffic jams, getting lost, and deviations sometimes happen, delaying you from reaching your destination for the night on time.

Instead of risking safety by falling asleep while driving, stop somewhere safe to grab a few hours of sleep.

5. Check the Current Gas Prices

Naturally, the cost of gas is an essential thing to budget during a road trip. If you’re doing a multi-country road trip, you’ll notice gas prices can vary drastically between countries. For example, on average, the gas price in Iceland is more than twice what it is in the US, while in the Middle East and Central Asia it’s about half.

Use Google Maps to calculate your distances, and if you know the gas consumption of your car and the average gas price in each country, you could do some simple math to establish a gas budget.

6. Stay Connected, but Not Too Connected

Whether it’s with your local SIM card or by getting an international SIM card or Wi-Fi provider, do your best to have a means of communication in case of emergency.

Also, have handy the local emergency numbers. In the US, it is 911, but every other country has their own code.

Additionally, having access to the internet helps you navigate your adventure, find local information online, and stay up-to-date with the weather!

But, don't stay too connected! Don't be afraid to put your phone aside and focus on the moment. Have fun on your trip, enjoy new experiences, and discover different things. Create these memories as personal, life-enriching experiences, and not just for social platforms.

7. Consider the Space Your Bags and Gear Will Occupy in the Vehicle

Usually, the more adventurous the road trip, the more gear you’ll carry like tents, a cooking stove, sleeping bags, food, coolers, and more.

Be mindful of the trunk space required for your equipment, as it is often substantial. Waiting until the last minute might result in finding out that not everything (or everyone’s bag) fits in one car. Pro tip: A roof box might help!

During the planning stage of an Iceland road trip, my friends and I checked the sizes of our bags and compared them to our car rental trunk capacity. We Googled the trunk dimensions of our car model and quickly realized it wasn’t big enough. This is where the roof box came in handy!

8. Last but Not Least, Enjoy the Moment!

This trip is for living in the moment, gaining new experiences, and discovering new places. If you get lost or get stuck somewhere, remember to keep high spirits! It’s all part of the adventure.

Norbert Figueroa
Norbert Figueroa is an architect from Puerto Rico. He’s on a mission to visit all 195 UN Recognized Nations.


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