Do you like to be hurried along on a package tour? I don't. And that's why I enjoy going on flexible self-drive holidays. But a DIY vacation may be remembered for the wrong reasons if it is not planned properly.
Here are some tips for planning your own successful self-drive holiday.
1. Begin planning early. Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? Where will you be staying? If you belong to a travel organization, pick up brochures and a current map detailing the area you want to visit. The Internet is an invaluable tool when planning your holiday. Check out customer reviews of hotels and points of interest.
2. Plan the driving route. Mark on the map the places of interest you'd like to see. Check out points of interest in the cities, such as museums, amusement parks, and shopping. Points of interest along scenic byways that might be less traveled might include parks, quaint small towns, and historic sites. Talk with each family member to see what would be of interest to them so everyone gets to contribute to the holiday plans. Don't forget to include time each day for meal stops and fresh air breaks.
If you are driving overseas, check if they drive on the same side of the road as back home. You might want to rent an auto-transmission vehicle if the road system differs greatly from what you are used to. Then, you don't have to grapple with gear shifting and driving on the correct side of the road!
3. Make reservations for the places you are going to stay along the way. Keep a folder with all of the contact information, confirmation numbers, and dates of arrival and departure for each overnight stay. Ample rest is essential for a relaxed trip, so make sure to allow for it each night.
4. Your vehicle is going to take you several miles on your holiday, so be sure to have the oil checked or changed, fluids filled, tires filled, and the windshield wipers replaced if needed. Always bring along a tire jack, the spare tire, jumper cables, simple tools, a flashlight and flares. Membership to an auto club is a good investment, just in case you need a tow or a new battery away from home.
5. Travel supplies for the family are crucial for enjoying the trip. A cooler stocked with fresh snacks like carrot sticks, yogurt, cheese sticks, bottled water, and fruit will save you time and money. Other snacks that travel well are granola bars, trail mix, animal crackers, and nuts. Keep wipes and napkins handy for quick clean up.
6. Bring along a first aid kit with the basics: bandages of varying sizes, antibiotic spray or cream, gauze, ace bandages, and pain reliever.
7. A camera is a must on holiday! Bring along extra memory cards, power cords, rechargeable batteries and charger or extra film, so you won't pay outrageous prices along the way for your camera needs.
8. Carry cash, a credit card and a debit card. Of course, make sure your bank has ATM's along your route. A credit card is always a good idea because some establishments won't take debit cards or cash. However, for those farmer's markets or small towns along the way, cash might be a good idea.
9. Other items to bring on holiday to ensure success: an excellent and current atlas, a cell phone with charger, emergency phone numbers for family members, insurance cards (car and hospital), and activities to do along the way. If you are traveling with children, bring along games, books, stickers, and crayons for a successful, and quieter, trip.
10. Maintain a sense of humor. There will be times when a plan may change. And there will always be that occasional hiccup. Before traveling, decide that you will the funny side of any bad situation rather than let it ruin your vacation.
A successful self-drive holiday is just around the corner for you. Have you started planning yet? Enjoy the process and pay attention to the details, and you'll be sure to have a great time together as a family seeing the sights and enjoying the journey.