Escaping the City: Planning the Local Road Trip of Your Dreams

As the sun starts to peek out from behind the clouds, the flowers come out, and the Cape Town air begins to lose its icy tinge, I find myself sitting in the library, with my hands on my computer, but my head in the clouds – daydreaming about leaving the city noise behind, and exchanging it for the simplicity of the open road.  

The urge to travel, to see new places, and to try new things has always been in my blood. I always thought that in order to fulfill these dreams, I had to save up for an expensive plane ticket and fly halfway across the world. Recently, this mindset has shifted, and I’ve become completely obsessed with discovering the vast beauty that lies right on our doorstep. 

So, if you ask me – local road trips are the way to go! They give you peace-of-mind from the city hustle, take you to places that rival the picturesque scenes on travel blogs, and allow you to learn more about your own country – all without breaking the bank! So, while I’m planning my next getaway, here are some of my top tips, so you can start planning yours too. 

 

  1. 1. Budget and save up in advance

    Local road trips are one of the cheapest ways to travel, but there are still a few things that need to be budgeted in, such as food, accommodation, and petrol. So, if you are able to, make sure you start setting aside money in advance. 

    Having said that, there are a few ways to save cash while you travel. Many backpacker accommodations offer volunteer programs that provide you with food and a bed, in exchange for your help around the hostel. Also, I highly recommend going with a group of friends, so that you can split the petrol and food costs. 

  2. 2. Have a plan, but not a rigid one

    When it comes to planning, there are two types of people: the uber spontaneous types, who pack up and go on a whim, and the hyper-organised types, who have all the details of the trip planned before they leave. I lie somewhere in the middle. 

    I think it is good to have a general plan of your route, and accommodation before you leave. I like to book most of the accommodation in advance, because the price deals are often better, and it means that you don’t have to stress about where you are staying the night after a long day of driving. Besides, a little bit of planning means that you have something definite to look forward to. As for the rest, it’s really lovely to leave it to chance! I hardly ever plan day-to-day activities in advance, because you never know how you will feel on the day – it’s always good to leave room for spontaneity!

  3. 3. Always carry a map

    There are a few essentials that you should never leave home without, such as your ID, driver’s license, and some cash (just in case). However, if there is one thing that I have taken away from my mom’s whining about the pitfalls of the Google Maps, and the usefulness of a map book, it’s that a map book is always handy! 

    When you are in the middle of nowhere, Google Maps cannot always be trusted. You never know when your phone will go flat or lose connection. So, make sure you always carry a map – better safe than sorry!

  4. 4. Backpackers are the best

    Backpacker hostels are, by far, the most vibey places to stay when doing a local road trip – and they are definitely the most affordable too! They are great places to meet other travelers (from near and far) and exchange stories and ideas of things to do. The staff often have a wealth of knowledge on the area, and it essentially feels like a homely community away from home. So, do a little bit of research, find a backpacker hostel with some good reviews, and give it a try!

  5. 5. Do as the locals do!

    As they say: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” The same applies to local travel ! Step out of your comfort zone and ask local people what the best-kept secrets of the place are. You’ll often find the best food, activities, and views this way. Also try to buy local produce as much as possible, because it’s good to support local wherever we can!

  6. 6. Don't overthink it

    Lastly, but most importantly – don’t overthink it! You will soon realise that the best part about road trips is that not everything goes to plan, and you need to learn to embrace that. Often the best parts are the ones you did not plan. Allow yourself some freedom to listen to your body, heart, and soul and see where it takes you. Take pictures, ask a local for the best activities in the area, and bask in the beauty of an unknown place!

I hope these tips have inspired the adventurer in you. I hope you grab your friends and tell them you have decided it is time for a camping trip! Most of all, I hope you realise that: you don’t need a loaded bank account or a plane ticket to have the best holiday of your life. You will be surprised, as I have been, at the sheer amount of untouched beauty lies right on our doorsteps – and aren’t we lucky?!