As far as road trips go, I’m pretty sure they don’t get any better than driving the Pacific Coastal Highway from LA to San Francisco. If they do get better than this then firstly, um, I’m not sure I believe you, and secondly, please tell me because I’m worried I’ve started with the best of the best and where the heck do I go from here?!
It was my first proper road trip (pretty sure jumping in the car for 3 hours down to West Wittering doesn’t really count) and with it being a part of our Trek America California Calling itinerary, every part of it had been planned to perfection by our tour guide Darin, who knew the best places to pull over for a scenic lunch or picturesque hike. However not every road trip runs quite so smoothly. During our 5 hour drive we discussed tales of when road trips don’t quite go to plan, as well as some tips to ensure they run smoothly. Darin was an expert on this, having driven across the United States more times than he can remember.
So today’s post is a combination of things we learnt during our road trips (which you can watch here) as well as tips from the seasoned-roadtrippers aboard our minibus!
Top Road Trip Tips
1. Plan your route thoroughly first. Sounds really obvious but since returning from the trip, I’ve showed my photos of the road trip to friends and family members, a few of whom *thought* they had done the scenic road trip between L.A and San Fran, only to quickly realise that the route they took was a whole lot less spectacular than the one we did!! The great thing about travelling with Trek America was that seeing the most beautiful parts of the country is a top priority, so even if it took longer, it was worth it to see the views of Big Sur.
2. If you haven’t got one, borrow or rent a fuel efficient car! This is a tip from a pro-road tripper, who has hundreds of thousands of miles to his name – he told me that he has saved thousands at the pumps by checking how many miles to the gallon your vehicle can do!
3. Keep coins and loose change handy. Whether for tolls, parking machines, or the odd Fro-Yo stop, having loose change close by will always be useful!
4. Pack a pillow! Don’t know about you, but long car journeys make me want to nap! Sleeping against the window is NOT comfy, so packing a pillow or blanket will make your journey a million times more comfy. If you’re road tripping abroad, why not sneak out with the plane blanket – it’s perfect!
5. No matter what type of road trip you’re on, pack some comfy shoes! Flip Flops and/or walking boots will come in incredibly handy if you have to hike a little away from the road for a bathroom stop for example, and you never know what beautiful walking trails you may stumble across. Our Trek Leader, Darin took us on an incredible stunning walk to McWay Falls during our road trip, where we even spotted Whales and Dolphins far in the distance, and that walk would not have been so enjoyable in my (v. cute) strappy sandals!
7. Another obvious one, but make sure you have loads of water bottles stocked up – it’s amazing how quickly you get through them!
8. Create a playlist of songs you havn’t heard in a long time! After listening to the radio for a couple of hours, you’ll want to rip your hair out if you hear a chart song one more time! Some of my favourites include Destiny’s Child, and, well, anything else from the 90s.
9. Pack healthy snacks! There are always plenty of places to stop for fast food, but after a day or so of In ‘n’ Out burgers you’ll find yourself craving something a little more nutritious. We packed Granola bars, fruit, sandwiches etc for some easy-to-munch on healthy snacks.
10. Do most of the driving in the early morning and afternoon so you don’t get too tired, it’s just not worth the risk! We would try to get up and out of the campsites by 8am to really make the most of the day.
We were lucky travelling with Trek America that our fabulous tour leader took care of most of the above, meaning we could simple relax and enjoy the out-of-this-world scenery!
Our trip was the California Calling tour, which included road trips from LA to Santa Barbara, to Yosemite, to San Francisco and you can discover more in my Trek videos here. Discover more stunning road trips in California via VisitCalifornia here.
Have you taken a road trip before? Where did you last road-trip to?