Road trip
Volkswagen Camper on top of a mountain in the yorkshire dales national park

The perfect road trip involves three people, covers 190 miles and is accompanied by rock music, according to research.

The study of 2,000 adults found the ideal drive should take place in a VW camper van, Range Rover or Ford Mustang.

There needs to be at least one toilet stop every 100 miles, good weather and a reliable sat nav, even though one in three Brits said getting lost is the fun part of a road trip.

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.

It also found that the music played on a road trip is more important than the final destination.

Who you are travelling with is the top consideration for a perfect road trip followed by the scenery.

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, including planning a realistic route, familiarising yourself with local driving customs – and accepting you will most likely get lost.

 

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Keeping an eye on the fuel gauge and where the nearest fuel stations are is also a top tip as well as making sure you get out of the cities and see more of the country you are travelling in.

They said: “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.”

The study also named TV presenter James Corden as the celebrity Brits would most like to have in the passenger seat followed by Tom Hanks and Stephen Fry.

But before it can be considered a ‘road trip’, a journey needs to last around three hours and 42 minutes.

Researchers, from OnePoll, also found 57 per cent of Brits like the idea of a ‘fly drive’ holiday and 35 per cent would happily drive in a foreign country, even if they hadn’t before.

However, of those who don’t want to drive abroad, 48 per cent worry they won’t be able to get used to driving on the other side of the road and 39 per cent fear they won’t be able to read or understand the road signs.

Travellers, test your knowledge of the road in this quiz

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 Heathrow.
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Andrew and Emily’s top tips for the perfect road trip

1Make realistic plans

A rookie mistake on road trips is wildly overestimating how much distance is possible, or desirable, to cover off each day.

Although it’s tempting to think you can tick off large chunks of the country, it is vital to remember that you don’t need to, or want to, be driving every single day of your road trip.

Also, until you’re in a country, it’s really difficult to appreciate that a mile in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, for example, is going to take a lot longer than a mile in Milton Keynes.

Schedule in days with no driving, set a realistic mileage cap for each day, and remember that you will not want to rush your road trip of a lifetime.

2Renting 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.

And, to minimise your stress levels throughout the road trip, always take the additional insurance to reduce your excess/deductible to zero (or a much more manageable amount than the standard option).

You can save a lot of money by buying a policy online separate from the one the rental company offers.

3Navigation

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.

If you’re a couple on your first road trip, then know that you will get lost and that you will argue with each other.

4The 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.

The stunning scenery around every corner will keep your attention for longer than a top of the range Bluetooth player!

5Local 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 – but thankfully us Brits don’t have that issue in South Africa.

The truth is though that after a few hours on your first day, you’ll find yourself pretty well adjusted to opposites.

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.

6Fuel 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.

7Staying 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.

8Valuables

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.

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