A study has revealed all the ingredients for the perfect road trip, so grab your keys, your mates and some snacks, and get ready to burn some rubber.
The study of 2,000 adults concluded the ideal distance for a road trip is 190 miles – with a toilet stop every 100 miles – and is ideally driven in a VW camper van, a Range Rover, or a Ford Mustang.
While in most other situations three is a crowd, it’s actually the perfect number of people for a road trip – although I think out of fairness, passengers should rotate so everyone gets a turn in the front seat.
Who you’re going to be stuck in the car with for hours on end is a top consideration for the trip, followed by the scenery you’re going to witness en route.
Rock music was determined as the perfect road trip soundtrack, with the research revealing the music played on the trip is more important than the final destination.
Good weather and a reliable sat nav also add to the enjoyment of the experience – even though one in three Brits said getting lost is part of the fun.
That’s the excuse I use whenever I’m in charge of navigating.
The study was commissioned to mark British Airway’s new route to the South African coastal city of Durban; the gateway to national parks, African plains and safaris.
In partnership with British Airways, Andrew Sim and Emily Gough, who write the award-winning travel blog, Along Dusty Roads, have shared some of their top tips for going on a road trip:
We’ve gone on road trips in many countries and it’s easy to get caught out if you aren’t prepared.
The car and location is something everyone thinks about, but the smaller things, such as the music or the people you are with can really make or break it.
And don’t worry if you do end up lost – not only will you see parts of the country you may not have been planning to, but you’ll have a great story to tell for years to come. After all, every road trip needs a dash of spontaneity.
Much like the fantasy dinner party idea, the study also revealed which celebrities Brits would most like to have in the passenger seat on a road trip.
TV presenter James Corden was given the top spot, followed by Tom Hanks and Stephen Fry.
At least if you found yourself lost in a desolate area you’d know Tom Hanks would have some good survival tips. Well, at least he would if you got lost with a collection of FedEx parcels in the boot.
Before the journey can be considered an official ‘road trip’, the research, conducted by OnePoll revealed the drive needs to last around three hours and 42 minutes.
The study also found 57 per cent of Brits like the idea of a ‘fly drive’ holiday, with 35 per cent happy to drive in a foreign country, even if they haven’t before.
Those who didn’t want to drive abroad gave their reasons, with 48 per cent worried they won’t get used to driving on the other side of the road and 39 per cent afraid of not being able to read or understand road signs.
I think that’s fair enough. I’m pretty sure my family are still banned from driving in Italy after we accidentally found ourselves in the middle of a pedestrianised area.
British Airways’ new service takes off from October 29 and will be the only non-stop link between Europe and Durban, with three direct flights a week from London’s Heathrow.
Check out Andrew and Emily’s top tips for the perfect road trip:
Make realistic plans – A rookie mistake on road trips is wildly overestimating how much distance is possible, or desirable, to cover off each day.
Renting a car – Language and cultural barriers can cause issues when collecting a rental car, and standards of what counts as ‘damage’ can vary wildly.
When picking up your rental, before you sign any paperwork, do a full inspection of the car and take photos and video of the vehicle, including the windscreens. This evidence can be vital when returning a car.
Their tips continue:
Navigation – The biggest source of arguments on any road trip? Directions. It is inevitable that, at some point, a turn will be missed or a wrong shortcut suggested, and all hell will break loose between driver and navigator.
The car is usually the least important bit – Although we have been lucky enough to road trip in our dream car, it’s important to remember that the vehicle type is often the least important element of a road trip.
Sure, you need something which does the job and won’t break down, but you really don’t need to have anything flashy or top of the range to enjoy a road trip through South Africa?
Andrew and Emily added:
Local Driving Customs – Driving on the wrong side of the road is usually one of the biggest fears that people have about road trips in a foreign country.
The biggest challenge will however be adapting to locals’ driving habits and customs, which can be a constant source of hilarity, frustration, stress, and sometimes more serious concern.
Fuel filling drama – Far too often we have played a game of chicken with the fuel gauge, skipping on petrol station after petrol station in the hope that one further along will give us a much better price per litre even when the tank is close to empty; it’s really really stupid.
On long road trips, try to never let your tank get below a third full and if that day’s route is taking you out into long stretches of backcountry wilderness, take a note of where the petrol stations are going to be so you don’t end up stranded.
Staying in Cities is Stupid – A big reason we love road trips so much is because they allow us to experience a country outside of its cities. Without your own wheels, doing this is incredibly difficult, which is why so many itineraries just go from city to city.
On any road trip, avoid repeating that mistake (because driving in cities can also be really stressful) and take the opportunity to stay in remote countryside settings, travel along roads less travelled, visit places spontaneously, and allow the road to show you the way.
Valuables – After a few days in your car, it will feel like a home-away-from-home in whatever foreign land you’re roaming.
However, complacency is a sure-fire way to ruin your road trip – make sure to leave luggage and any valuables out of sight in a locked boot when you’re not with the car.
Test your road-trip driving skills here!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.