A road trip can be a unique experience when travelling to a new place or when using the road for the first time on a journey that has been embarked upon before but through other modes. Long road trips especially can have a lot of experiences in it; some can write a book or make a movie out of it.
Here are a few tips to take note of before you take to the highway whether it is from Lagos to Accra, Port Harcourt to Niamey or perhaps Abuja to Yaoundé.
Obviously, Clean up.
A minimum clean up for a car to be taken on a road trip would include basically all screens and mirrors as this would aid the visibility of the front and rear view appreciably. As for the other parts…well do as you please.
Ensure your vehicle is almost 100%
If your vehicle can’t be 100 percent for the road trip, make sure it is almost 100% and ensure that your mechanic certifies the vehicle for the distance you are to cover for your road trip. Ensure that you put all things in perfect shape for a vehicle, especially the following:
Extra Fluids (brakes, transmission etc.)
Tire changing kit (Jack, Spanner set)
Recharge your phone
Asides charging the phone battery ensure that the phone is loaded with enough airtime that would be used during the trip. It will be useful to call friends and relatives back home or at the destination point. You also save yourself much trouble time when there is a breakdown or you miss your way and you are in a place where phone recharge isn’t possible.
Envisage trouble ahead
On a road trips unforeseen contingencies are common but most of them are avoidable; to avoid most of them, think ahead and double check.
All documents check
To avoid any form of embarrassment and unexpected delay on the road, complete papers for your vehicle are important and forgetting any one for a trip within the country or worse on a cross country road trip can completely ruin the entire trip.
In Nigeria documents needed are the driver’s license, insurance certificate, Vehicle purchase documents, proof of ownership and receipt of plate number.
On a cross country road trip, international passport, international driving permit/license and a knowledge of local driving laws are very important.
Set a limit to how many hours that you will drive
For trips that are over ten hours, it is advisable to know how many hours you can do on a stretch and it is advisable to stick to the time limit set. The capability of a driver on a road trip is important and knowing this would be handy in setting a time limit to driving on a stretch.
Flashlights for nightcrawlers
This is a necessary take along for people that will venture into night travel by road but it can also come handy in other ways. Although many phones now have flashlight on them, it is still useful to go the old fashioned way and have a “touch”. Some places where it might save the day are in flat tire scenarios at night, looking for stuff in the boot, and so on. Most traditional flashlights have more brightness and range while the best phone touches don’t have. If you get to a lodging point along the way at night, it would also be helpful if electric power goes out.
Food and Drinks
Those that go on road trips very often along popular travel routes know that food and drinks could unreasonably spike up two or three times the original/official price. It is important to note that food and drinks that are easily perishable are not advisable for road trips of over a day; snacks will always come handy in this case.
Sitting for long hours on the road can be very strenuous on the legs and it is even worse if a person is putting on uncomfortable shoes. A driver on a road trip needs to be comfortable with his or her feet with appropriate footwear or no footwear as the case may be, depending on what makes the driver comfortable. Passengers also need some form of comfort, so it is advisable to choose the most comfort footwear or just be a savage! – no footwear too.
Avoid travelling alone if you can
If you can find ways to entertain yourself on your road trip, then you can go solo but it is much more fun to be in a company or at least have a travel companion that will make the journey fun. Travelling with other people asides the fun part can also help prevent accidental slumber, which can happen to anybody especially on long road trips where little or no stops are observed. It is also helpful when someone else in the vehicle can drive to ease off a little bit of fatigue.
Have ’emergency money’
Nobody voluntarily wants to be a victim of a mishap on a road trip but sometimes we might not be able to avoid some. Anything can happen beyond the scope of your control or planning. So budget for contingencies. It is also advisable to have a comprehensive insurance package, a third party insurance or any other befitting insurance for your vehicle as this can be used for extreme situations that the ’emergency money’ wont cover for.
If there is more than one route to follow on the path to your destination please decide which to follow before leaving. Avoid making such decisions on the road keeping in mind that the shortest route to a place will not necessarily take you there in the shortest time. Decide before you leave on the route considering the nature of the roads, the distance, the heaviness of traffic, ease of access to car servicing points, filling stations and lodging centers (for road trips that are more than a day).
Spare must have
You can’t be too sure when you are going on a road trip; the vagaries of roads can make you frustrated when you have bought new parts and the vehicle develops a fault. To eliminate such frustration, try getting extra of a few parts for your trip. You should consider getting these for the road trip especially if it’s a long one:
Pack for Fuel Economy
The amount of baggage in a vehicle during trip significantly affects fuel economy and it is only wise to pack smart when travelling on the road. Vehicles have a recommended maximum capacity which includes the number of passengers and the load in the vehicle. Most vehicles of the modern era have it printed on the driver’s door. Exceeding the recommended maximum capacity will have significant effect on your fuel economy. It is important to be minimalistic when packing and take only the bare necessities.
Although, travelling by road has its pros and cons, planning ahead with a few tips in mind can make it an overall exciting experience.