Your Pre-Road-Trip Checklist

roadtrip1

The modern world offers few surprises. Taking a trip around the world is just a few clicks away– now you can inspect photos, go to the street view on Google Maps and read exhaustive information about locations on Wikipedia. But who can shake off the call to adventure? Every now and then, the road trip itch needs to be scratched, but it requires meticulous preparation. If you decide to jump into your car and take off with a group of friends or family members, here is a pre-road-trip checklist.

How to pack?

If you are going on a road trip for more than two days, you will need two essential items – a bag or a backpack you can carry around and a proper suitcase. The traveling wardrobe goes into your suitcase – two pairs of jeans, a jacket (and a raincoat for possible rain days) and several comfortable shirts (long-sleeved are better than short-sleeved – you can always fold your sleeves).

roadtrip2

As far as underwear and socks go, the number depends on the number of days you will spend on the trip. Put all your toiletries in a single case –a vanity case or a toiletry bag. It is crucial to pack the one made of cloth and nylon so it can take up less space once you put it in the suitcase.

As far as a backpack goes, put all the things you need to keep within arm’s reach inside – your wallet, money, ID, credit card, additional documentation, smartphone/tablet/laptop or all three if you need them.

How to check your vehicle?

roadtrip3

It’s crucial to check your vehicle and tune it up before the trip. First of all, check your car fluids – which include engine oil, brake, power steering and transmission fluids, and coolant. Even the most fastidious drivers forget to check the windshield washer fluid from time to time, so use this as a reminder.

You do not have to be a car expert to know what sort of engine oil you need – when you pop the hood, it should be printed out on the engine. Take a piece of throwaway cloth and use a stick to dip it into the engine oil to check how fresh it is. Smearing the stick across the cloth will show you how dirty the oil is and if it warrants changing. The staining should be minimal and it should not smell burnt. When it comes to reliability, Castrol engine oil is a safe bet.

If the coolant level is low, pour in more antifreeze, and check whether it already comes with a 50/50 water ratio mix. Also, do not forget to check if seat belts, doors and brake lights are in pristine condition. If you come across more than a few minor problems, you should probably go to the local car service shop and get the help of professionals.

How to leave your home?

roadtrip4

You need to secure your household against potential break-ins. Cancel your mail and newspaper deliveries while you are gone or ask the neighbor to collect them for you – a pile of papers invites robbers to your front door. Additionally, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway while you are out of town and put motion detectors on your exterior lights. Secure all doors and windows before you leave, and turn on the house alarm (if you have one). Empty and unplug the freezer and the refrigerator (for long trips) unless someone will be living in your household and taking care of it while you are gone.

How to create a playlist?

Every true road trip has to include a playlist of appropriate songs. Heartland and blue-collar rock, glam and arena rock classics, new age and post-punk revival, as well as (yes, we are going there) country music are just some of the beloved genres of the road. Bruce Springsteen, Journey, Kansas, U2, and the Killers are nearly unavoidable if you are driving along the expansive landscapes. Johnny Cash, John Denver, and Willie Nelson are country favorites that garner a whole new texture around 30 miles per hour.

Road trips are the closest things we have to adventures right now – and just like adventures, they come with a risk of unpredictable situations and even dangers. Go through a checklist of the necessities in order to prepare properly. It will take a little time for preparations before your trip, but better to be safe than sorry.

This article was written by Roxana Oliver, a travel enthusiast and an occasional blogger from Sydney, Australia.

Advertisements

How to Pass Time on a Long Trip

image 1 (4)

Sometimes, while travelling for a long time, the hours just seem to drag by. If you get easily bored on a plane, bus or train, why not try some of these tricks to pass the time and arrive fresh and ready to explore? 

image 3 (1) - Copy

Catch some Zs

Travelling is a great way to get some extra sleep and pass the time. Although it can be a little uncomfortable for the legs, sleeping on a bus or a train accompanied by the rhythms and the sounds of traffic is hands down the best way to sleep. And don’t hesitate to splurge on a sleeping compartment when on the train. There you can stretch your legs and back, close your eyes and just relax as the train lulls you to sleep. If you have some valuables with you, such as a laptop, camera, phone and money, make sure to keep them close to you while sleeping.

image 4 - Copy

Shoot photos

All professional travellers always carry their camera with them, and so should you. You’ll get to shoot some beautiful nature scenes, cities, villages and people you don’t get to see every day. Your photos are actually one of the most valuable things you can take home from your adventures, and most people cherish them forever. So, have your camera at hand at all times and who knows what kind of masterpiece you’ll create.

image 5 - Copy

Watch movies

If you happen to fly, most of today’s flights are equipped with an entertainment system, so you can catch up with the movies you’ve missed in the cinema. However, if you’re travelling by bus, you can take your laptop or tablet and fill it with TV shows and movies to pass the time. They are also good airport companions, especially on long layover flights. 

image 6

Make new friends

Travelling alone is perfect for meeting new people and making new friends. Look for other solo travellers who look bored like you, or start a conversation with your seatmate. Who knows, you might meet some extraordinary people, your future BFF or even your soul mate. However, don’t be pushy, as some people just want to enjoy their trip in peace.

image 2 - Copy

Bring some cards

No matter if you’re travelling with your friends, family or alone, you should always make some extra space for a deck of cards. This way you can play a variety of games with people and even alone. Solitaire, anyone? Cards are also an amazing way to break the ice and start talking to other people. You can also get one of those travel chess boards with magnets and play a game or two.

Enjoy some music

One thing a traveller mustn’t forget to bring is an iPod or an mp3 player. When you’re down and exhausted, music will pick you up and give you the energy to push forward. It will also relax you and fix your mood. Music is also a great way to tune out conversations, crying babies and loud sounds of the plane or train. But if you just can’t ignore the noises in the background, you can get noise-cancelling headphones such as AKG headphones that will completely isolate you from the rest of the world.

image 7

Read a book

Before, it wasn’t so easy to carry two or three books with you at all times, but today, that’s not difficult at all. Even though you might be a fan of the “real deal”, e-books are much more practical for travelling and they can almost fit into your pocket. Any time is good for reading, but if you’re stuck on a plane or a train, it can really save your life. However, it’s not recommended for people who suffer from motion sickness. 

So, remember these, and next time you go on a trip, you won’t be bored or lonely. Bon voyage, traveller!

8 Ways to Learn A Language As You Travel

slanguage1

Sitting in the departures lounge with a phrase book and no idea how to say anything?

It happens to the best of us!

English speakers are, of course, utterly spoiled when travelling. So many people speak our language around the world that it can be tempting not to bother with the memorizing.

However, the rewards from learning a handful of phrases can be huge, and we aren’t just talking about the practicalities.

Making the effort to speak the local language will enrich your experiences, allow you to discover the best hidden gems off the tourist trail and it demonstrates a respect for, and genuine interest in, the culture you are exploring. At the very least, if you muddle through and get a smile, then your efforts will be worth it!

Check out our list of tips for language-learning as you travel, and try not to be shy. The world awaits!

1- Pack Light

As tempting as it might be to pick up a big grammar book at the airport, that style of learning is unlikely to help you out in-country. Aside from the fact that you have far more exciting things to do than pore over a book, you also need to remember that you are literally surrounded with the greatest source of language-learning information: people!

The kinds of things you can expect to pick up in an hour on the go will be very different to the things you would typically learn in an hour on the books. However, both of these approaches to language suit different environments. When you’re already in country, too many books will just distract from people and the words around you. Get out there and learn!

slanguage2

2- Set Goals

This is an important point which came up in our previous post about language learning (https://markstraveljournal.me/category/language/). Goal setting is essential whether you are learning for 3 months or 3 hours over the course of a weekend away. Without goals, it is too easy to fall short of the final part of learning a language – attempting a few words!

As you are travelling, it is likely that your goal will relate to talking with a person. Recognizing signs is fantastic, but difficult to measure as a tangible goal. Examples of the kind of thing you could set as a daily challenge would be: ordering a meal, or a ticket for something; talking to the staff at your hotel or hostel; even just saying hello and goodbye in the target language.

3- Choose the Target Language

Listen in to tours, go to the cinema, listen to the radio. Make a concentrated effort to hear the language as much as possible.

Going shopping? Write your shopping list in the target language. In fact, write as much as possible in the target language.

This is so much easier when you’re in-country, so make the most of it!

slanguage3

4- Play at Word Association

Don’t be afraid to make up slightly bizarre mnemonics to remember things. These will often be unique to you, and they help. One example might be Hungarian for hello – Szia – which sounds like See Ya. So I think of the Beatles song ‘Hello, Goodbye’ and the lyrics – “you say goodbye and I say hello”. For anyone else, this might seem like a convoluted approach, but if it works for me, then it’s perfect!

5- Ask for Help

Depending on your personality, this can be easy or impossible. Years of language-learning have allowed me to worry less and less of what people are thinking when I ask for help, but I know this isn’t the same for everyone.

The more you get used to approaching strangers and asking for help with language, the easier it will get. However, try to make the most of speaking to people you meet. Ask the waiter in the restaurant how to pronounce the word for your favourite dish. If you’re feeling especially brave, ask if they would mind you recording the phrase on your phone. You’ve got new vocab and a permanent reminder, all at once!

Memorize how to say “how do I say this?” and don’t hold back. 9/10 people will be delighted to share their language with you, I promise!

slanguage4

6- Pack your Post-its

If you’re staying for a few days, then this tactic is slightly wacky but it works. Label things in your accommodation with post-its, and the word for them in the target language. Of course, maybe don’t try this if you are staying in someone’s home or they might get a little annoyed. Otherwise, you’ll pick up words for everyday items far quicker than if you weren’t seeing the word every time you used the object.

7- Use what You Have

If you have a smartphone, take photos of things you want to remember the word for and rename them with the word. Fill your notes with vocabulary, or record yourself reciting key phrases and listen to it as you sit on the bus.

slanguage5

8- Enjoy Yourself!

This style of language-learning is meant to be done in quick chunks. Don’t fret about verb conjugations, and not having a clue how to reuse words. If you can only remember key phrases but you get the chance to use them speaking to a real person, then that is a huge achievement.

We’ve talked about setting goals, but don’t feel bad for setting them low. Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, the whole point of learning the language is ultimately to enhance your enjoyment of your trip. You will not be taking exams, and no one you talk to is going to be testing you. Relax, and enjoy it!

 

____________

If you have used these tips, or have some more to suggest, then please comment on social media and let us know!

Bio: Global Language Services (http://www.globallanguageservices.co.uk/) is a Scotland-based translation and interpreting company committed to providing speedy, efficient and accurate service no matter what. Please get in touch or check out our website for more details.