These days there are a huge number of airlines offering cheap flight around the world. These quick and affordable trips are a godsend when you’ve got to be somewhere quickly, but what if time is on your side? While flying is the easier option, travelling by car is the far more exciting choice.
While the view from a plane is fantastic (when the weather is kind) a road trip is a great way to see more of the world, up close and personal. A thousand opportunities are suddenly open to you. With a huge choice of routes, places to stop off at and people to see, your trip has suddenly gotten a lot more interesting.
Travelling by car may be a bit riskier, with much more that could potentially slow you down, but as far as making fantastic memories, it’s far better than flying. Let’s have a look why!
What’s so great about road trips?
Personally, I take the car or motorbike whenever I can instead of flying. Road trips have become more than just a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, and I often find myself travelling by car across Europe to visit friends and family back home rather than flying, even if it’s just for a few days. The freedom of driving mile after mile, across countries and indeed continents just never gets old for me.
I guess it’s the adventure that I always associate with an epic road trip, the sense that anything could happen. With flying, the only thing out of the ordinary I think could happen is that the plane might crash – not ideal! By car, you have the freedom to go off and explore random tiny villages or those huge cities you’ve always fancied seeing.
There’s always the natural wonders along the road as well. Anyone who has spent time travelling by car will know the satisfaction of finding a beautiful place to stop for the night, and doing a bit of car camping. When you’re stuck in a plane, all you can do is look down wistfully and try and grab a few minutes of neck stiffening sleep!
On my cross continent drives I’ve witnessed a great many things I would have missed out on had I been in an aeroplane. Encounters with stunning animals are always special and there’s nothing quite like driving along a misty road in Eastern Europe while a huge stag runs alongside you.
While car camping I’ve met other like minded people and shared food and drink with them, often just in a layby in the middle of nowhere! If i hadn’t been travelling by car I never would have had these humbling experiences. To me, this is why driving has got to be better than flying.
But isn’t it dangerous?
Of course, like anything there are risks involved in driving rather than flying. Obviously the risk of a car crash is higher than that of a plane crash, but to be honest, if either happens you’ll be pretty screwed! A bit of common sense and good driving practices will help you avoid most problems;
Drive with awareness and care – learn to read the road and other drivers, plan ahead and always leave enough space to brake or escape an incident.
Never drink and drive – this should be obvious, but sometimes people think that because they’re on holiday they can get away with a few cheeky drinks. You can’t.
Don’t drive tired – A road trip is an amazing experience, but it’s also hard work. When you get tired, take a break. Car camping can be done pretty much anywhere, from gas stations to forests, so there’s no excuse for not taking a break.
Don’t camp in dangerous places – use your common sense when you stop for a rest and avoid anywhere that doesn’t feel safe. If you can’t find somewhere to camp, motels and hotels are normally fairly easy to come by, especially with a smart phone. Also, don’t leave it too late to set up camp, as this can lead to sloppiness and mistakes.
Keep on top of vehicle maintenance – when you’re travelling by car, your car becomes more than just a means of transport. It becomes your home and you’ll spend a lot of time in it. Listen out for unusual noises, keep an eye on oil, coolant and washer levels, and check your tyres regularly. If you don’t know much about basic car maintenance, it’s worth learning something before you head out, or ensure you’re covered for roadside assistance abroad.
Be sure your paperwork is up to date and valid – take all your vehicle documents with you, as well as copies and make sure it’s all up to date.
When is a road trip better than flying?
Obviously flights are an incredible convenience and have created many opportunities for people to travel to new places. In particular, budget airlines are great for domestic flights and international flights alike, and allow shoestring travelers to explore with relative ease. If you’re pushed for time, more often than not it’s quicker to fly, so travelling by car might not be the best option.
On the other hand, there are many times when driving is more beneficial than flying. If time is not an issue, I’d always take the car or motorbike, but sometimes it’s simply more practical to drive.
Holidays – if your next holiday is domestic, or in a neighbouring country, why not drive there instead of flying? Stuffing everything into one suitcase can become a real hassle when flying, but with a car, you can take as much luggage as you want! By driving, you can make the journey part of your holiday, stopping off at points of interest along the way.
Visiting friends or family – next time you go home to see the folks, make it an epic road trip! You’d be surprised at how much distance you can cover in a day, especially with two drivers!
When you’ve got a lot to carry – taking lots of luggage on a plane becomes expensive quickly, not an issue when you’re driving.
Excursions during peak times – if you’ve ever booked a flight during school holidays or over christmas, you’ll know that prices soar as high as the planes themselves. It often works out cheaper to drive during these times, just watch out for popular routes that might be clogged with tourist traffic!
So what are you waiting for? Next time you’re planning a flight, why not think about jumping in the car instead? The memories of the road will last a lifetime, whereas memories of hectic airports, queues for security and noisy flights with a screaming kid kicking the back of your seat for five hours, are best quickly forgotten!
Do you regularly drive instead of flying? Let us know about your best road trips in the comments section!