With all this covid-19 situation, getting out of our countries may not be the most responsible thing we could do. But there’s a great way to enjoy your holidays without going abroad: roadtrips.
Some of you are probably thinking about those never-ending roadtrips with your parents.
12 hours locked in a car, listening to random radio transmitters and trying not to kill your siblings.
Oh, those endearing family road trips!
But I was thinking more about those super cool adventures with friends in a van.
Imagine having a laugh with your bff (but without getting distracted from the road!), with your fav Spotify playlist on while driving to a beautiful white-sand beach.
It sounds much better, right?
Doing as many stops as you want. You could even stray from the path to discover a hidden gem. And all the insta-worthy pics you would get lol.
The best summer of your life may be closer than what you think.
Why would you spend +$1500 to go 5 days to Punta Cana when you can travel literally WEEKS for the same price?
It makes no sense to me.
Especially with the current global situation. You could get trapped in another country (well, getting trapped in Punta Cana doesn’t sound bad haha).
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But, how to plan a road trip?
When you travel, you usually hire transport (plane, train, bus, etc.) and accommodation.
Well, you won’t need any of these.
If you rent a van you’ll pay $50-$100 per day (+gas), but that’s all.
4 reasons why traveling in a van is the best:
- There’s no delay. I’ve had delays in every damn flight I have ever taken in my life. This doesn’t happen with a van. And it’s very unlikely to have a car breakdown (however, I would recommend getting full car insurance, just in case).
- You set the pace. Are you tired? Make an extra stop and rest for a couple of hours. It took you less than planned to visit a place? Get into the van and go to the next destination. You have total control.
- It’s a portable hotel. A hotel room in front of the beach can be expensive, but you can park your van wherever you want (if it’s allowed, always check the laws of the city; small vans shouldn’t give any problems tho).
- Change your mind. You were planning to go to Cantabria but you have just thought Portugal might be better? No problem! Change the itinerary as much as you want.
So a van is the perfect option to make a trip on a budget and have a couple of adventures in your 20’s (or 30’s, or 40’s…).
Things you need to plan a road trip:
Make a budget.
This should be a non-negotiable for every kind of trip.
If you skip this point, you’ll totally regret it when you get back home and see there are $800 less in your bank account.
The top things you should keep in mind are the car/van rent, gas, food and activities.
For instance, if you don’t think about gas, you could end up spending around +$200 in a 2000km trip.
How do you calculate how much you’ll pay for gas?
You need to know 3 things: the average price of gas in the places you’ll visit, the van’s fuel consumption and how many kilometres you’ll drive.
Just write this in the calculator:
(Fuel consumption/100 km) x price of 1L of fuel x kilometres you’ll drive = gas expenses
About food, if you rent a camper van make sure it has a little fridge and somewhere to cook (a microwave or a gas stove).
You’ll save TONS of money if you prepare your own meals.
And you may want to visit places where going to a restaurant is just not an option!
But let’s get back to the van:
How much does it cost to rent a camper van?
You have to consider that if you travel alone, this is not the best option.
First, flying to your destination is usually cheaper than driving there if you don’t split the costs with someone, so you wouldn’t be saving money.
Second, renting a van for one person can be way more expensive than renting a room at a 4-stars hotel.
The main reason why I would recommend renting a camper van on 2020 is to avoid covid-19 related problems.
If there’s a covid-19 positive in your hotel, you’ll have to spend at least 15 days locked down there (at least here, in Spain).
Air traffic may be cancelled if there’s a rebound of cases.
There could be an outbreak of the virus in the city you were planning to visit a couple of days before your trip and it could get quarantined.
If you decide to rent a camper van, you don’t have to worry too much about these issues.
A new outbreak? You can change the itinerary.
Air traffic cancelled? While they don’t cut the roads, you’re fine.
As you can see, it may be a good idea to consider van life this summer.
You’ll have to pay some services:
- rent (usually $50-$125 per day, depending on the size and model).
- car insurance ($10-$25 per day).
- mileage deposit (you can usually drive 100 miles per day, and you’ll have to pay for extra miles at the end of the trip. This deposit is around $30 per day and you’ll get money back if you don’t use all the miles).
- extras (many companies charge a fee if you want to bring your pets, or you may want to rent kitchenware or a bedding kit).
So yeah, it’s very expensive if you’re a solo traveller.
However, these vans usually allow 4 passengers (2-7 on average), so let’s see an example:
You and other 2 friends decide to live a road trip adventure. You decide to travel for a week and drive 2000 km.
If your rent is $90 per day, car insurance is $15/day, mileage deposit is $30/day and you spend around $15 in gas every day, the total costs are $1050 (without food and activities).
This is $350 each person for a whole week.
(Note that you could need to pay for parking/camping).
How much should you expect to spend on food and activities?
Short answer: as much as you want.
If you can cook in your camper and you only eat outside x3, you’d spend around $150 in food. Just be careful with the snacks and cocktails you grab!
If you don’t want to / can cook, it’d be almost $400 (especially if you’re in a country where tipping is “compulsory”).
However, it’ll depend on how much you want to spend.
Eating at McDonald’s is not the same as eating at El Celler de Can Roca.
Everything is fine if it’s in your budget!
To finish with this budgeting section, let’s talk about activities.
If you go to a countryside destination, I’d enjoy free outdoor activities.
Meeting another campers, going to the beach/lake to sunbath and swim, hiking, etc.
You can also do a day-trip to a near city. Free tours are great to get to know a new place and you can decide how much to pay.
If you’re taking advantage of the van to visit more cosmopolitan places, you can look for one of those bus tours.
They may seem expensive, but you get to see almost every cool spot in town and you can use them to visit the whole city (it’s usually a 24-48h ticket).
I was kind of hesitant to use them the first time (it was in Sevilla, 100% recommended) because I thought it wouldn’t be as “authentic” as discovering the city on my own.
Well, I was wrong!
Thanks to the bus I was able to see almost every important monument, visit the ones that caught my attention and learn a lot about the city.
So make sure you check out this option.
Again, free tours are available and you could always be picky and buy only a couple of tickets to the places you like the most.
As usual, I’d recommend not eating in downtown (at least not every day) and try some popular restaurants and cafés among the locals.
Just search on Pinterest “local guide to (your destination)” and you’ll get plenty of options.
If you’re visiting Budapest, I have a post about the best places to try the Hungarian cuisine.
Talking about Pinterest, remember to save this post for later to keep all this info at hand!
Make an itinerary.
Even if you want to be spontaneous, you have to keep in mind that most of the rental businesses (and private renters) require you to state which areas you’ll visit.
Can you change your mind? Sure!
But I’d highly recommend planning some things.
Why do you need to plan your road trip itinerary beforehand?
- Safety. Remember when we talked about that pandemic breaking havoc in the world? It may be a good idea to check which restrictions is your destination imposing. Or you could spend 15 days quarantined, that’s up to you. It’s also important to let someone know where you’re going and when (with regular updates) just in case something happens. We got trapped in Hungary and our parents could save our asses because of those updates, so don’t skip them.
- Rental requirements. Already talked about this, but they’ll ask you to share your itinerary when renting the van. You can change it on the go (I recommend telling your rental office you’re doing so), but at least you need to specify an area.
- Saving money. When you plan, you save. Buying tickets, renting parking or booking any activity it’s much cheaper the sooner you do it (but let’s not forget about last minute offers!). However, make sure there’s free cancellation. You never know.
- Peace of mind. It’s really stressing to not have anything figured out. And you don’t want to feel you’re wasting your time during your holidays. Decide where to go and what to do, and leave spontaneity for teenage lovers and comedians (me being an 80-yo angry lady here lol).
So, how to make an itinerary for a road trip?
1.- Choose your destinations. You can pick them from a certain area you’re willing to visit, and you’ll make the trip cheaper (remember the gas and mileage deposit!). For instance, last year we went to Andalucía and visited Sevilla, Córdoba, Málaga and Granada.
2.- Connect those destinations. It’s time to order the places you’re going to visit. It’s not hard: make a line. We decided to go to Sevilla first because it was our “natural” first stop from where we were coming. Then we just connected the cities to make the less kilometres possible. It’s also important to choose the roads you’re going to take!
3.- Add stops. Especially if it’s summer. Driving 10 hours in a row is never a good idea. Safety first, kids! (where are my grandma glasses? …)
And that’s it! Easy peasy.
But please, actually write it down. Just reading this post doesn’t get the itinerary done lol.
Last but not least:
Make your luggage.
Easier said than done.
If you’re thinking about the cute outfits you’re going to bring, you’re in the wrong conversation (but here you have a post about 25 essentials you must bring to every trip).
I’m talking about the “camper” of “camper van”.
The bedding kits and kitchen wear were already mentioned in the budgeting section, so you can always rent them.
If you want to invest in your own camping gear, I think these 4 things are the most important:
- Bedding kit. Inflatable mattress, pillow and blanket would we ideal. I’m leaving you here a good inflatable mattress+pillows offer on Amazon.
- Kitchenware. This may be included, but in case it’s not, be sure to bring cutlery, dishes, glasses and a pan (at least, 1/person. You can share the pan). If you love cooking, this camping kitchen set is perfect for you.
- First aid kit. You never know what life has prepared for you (and that b*tch can be tough), so you better get yourself a proper first aid kit. Don’t forget to add any medicines you may need!
- Hygiene kit. So you don’t stop looking like a human being. If you add pads/tampons/menstrual cup and biodegradable wipes, this camping hygiene kit may help you.
And that’s all.
We got a long post there, uh?
If you want to go back to any of these tips while you plan your road trip, don’t forget to save the post!
Let’s do a sum up to have everything clear.
To plan a road trip, you need to make 3 basic things:
- A budget. Consider vehicle rent (including mileage deposit, car insurance, etc.), gas, tolls, parking fees, food and activities.
- An itinerary. Choose the places you want to visit, the roads to connect them and add stops to rest every few hours.
- A luggage. To live the camper life you’ll need bedding, kitchen, first aid and hygiene kits. You have links to affordable options in that section.
Are you planning a road trip anytime soon? Any other tips to share with the community?
Read you in the comments!