Do you have a car and want to explore what’s around you? Check this guide to know how to make the most of it!
Getting into a car and see famous turistical attractions is easy, but what makes a roadtrip so unique is the possibility of stopping anywhere and admire off-the-beaten path landmarks. Oftenly when we travel by bus or train, the stops are gas stations or resting areas, but sometimes “famous” roads hide incredible jewels that you can see just stopping the car in the right place, like this salt lake between Ankara and the Capadoccia.
Most of my tours are made by car (that’s why there is a max capacity of 4 people), what makes them so unique? The fact that I stop in places that nobody heard about, like empty villages, ruined castles, abandoned casinos as well as stunning landscapes perfect for a good profile/cover picture in FB.
How I discover all that? Let me teach you how!
1) Choose your route
First, you need to choose which region or route you want to follow more or less, based on the most famous and known attractions that brought your attention to that area. Once you know it, it’s time to check a bit around it for secondary things that may be nearby, maybe by taking a 45 minutes detour though a secondary road you can see an incredible castle non reachable by highway.
2) Create a map
I use Google Maps custom maps app because it’s the easiest and fastest for me, and works in phone directly, even if you edited the route 2 seconds before in your computer. It allows you mark any point in the map and identify it with a color and an icon (for example I identify Castles and churches with orange, villages with purple and lakes/rivers with green). It’s quite easy to learn and so fast to share and edit, so you can improve your route constantly!
3) Know what to see in that area
Once you have thought of the basic stuff you want to see it’s time to explore all the options, my way of doing it is as it follows:
A) Checking attractions with Tripadvisor map mode
If you go to Tripadvisor.com, search a location in your route and click on the Map view, you get a map of all the attractions/interesting points nearby, you can move it or zoom it to know less famous ones. But Tripadvisor doesn’t know everything, in fact this year I have seen how it fails to chart more than 50% of things in my region, Aragon.
B) Getting information through official Tourism office
You can go to the regional tourism office and ask for informative leaflets of the area, they will probably give you several of them as well as more local information. Most councils also got a website where you can download the leaflet in PDF. They usually have 20-30 pages and include all the museum/restaurants/accommodation of the area.
C) Using satellite view to explore interesting roadside sights
This will take you some time, but it’s really rewarding (plus you feel like an Intelligence officer exploring different compounds and places with a satellite). I usually do this in 3 ways, first I follow the map in political view (default by Google) and check all the landmarks already pointed by Google, then I put satellite (geographical view) and check from above the road I’m going to follow, if I see some weirdness like a canyon, desert, pink lake or mine I zoom it and check if it’s easy to access. Check these two examples below of the pink lake in Torrevieja or the mine in Ariño.
Finally get the street view in several random points of the road to check if you see something interesting in the distance and how to get there.
Once you are finished, add everything to your map (one that works in phone, as GMaps), this will allow your Co-Pilot to navigate easily even in places where the GPS is not that accurate
4) Checking how many Km and hours are you going to drive
This is important, you don’t want to get exhausted, for me the limit is around 6h of driving per day, check the times with Google Maps route calculator, not only the Km since some roads don’t allow you to go as fast as you can. It will also give you an estimation of the Km you are going to do, in order to share gas, get those Km and add a 10-20% more, divide it by your car average consumption and multiply it by the average cost per liter of your gasoline. Obviously if your car can do all this by itself you can skip this step.
*Important note: Some people get dizzy and can even puke in your car, make sure to check the route in order to avoid roads with a lot of turnings or check for several resting areas on the way in order to make the trip better for them.
5) Have backup plans
Sometimes you will spend too much time in a destination or have some kind of delay, I always make a timetable with expected times on each place I’m going to visit, and also rate them in order to make a priority, sometimes is better to skip one sight in order to see an amazing sunset in the next one.
For example on my last tour we didn’t visited Ejea de los Caballeros fully because the light was going down quite fast and we preferred to enjoy some tapas instead.
6) Get ready for the trip
This seems unimportant, but oftenly we commit a mistake here, me included. Always make sure you bring enough food and water for the trip, even if you plan to eat in restaurants along the way. Do not forget a basic medkit, umbrella, spare clothes, tissues, as well as sun cream. And obviously get the car Insurance and assistance papers ready!
Also make sure you have a big and varied collection of music for the trip, even if it is your car, try to know what your passengers like, and find a common taste, for example I can spend days listening just to Iron Maiden and A7X, but I usually play 80s rock and The Killers when I have passengers.
7) Your car, your rules
Also it is important to set certain rules before the start if you are the owner, for example I don’t allow eating or drinking in my car, as well as smoking. It’s also important that you inform if you are going to go through pay highways and share the cost as well with the others (remember that the highway is not only faster, but much safer than the alternative).
These are my recommendations, I’m sure you can add some or personalize it to your needs! If you liked this article don’t forget to follow NomadWill on FB!
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