Your Pre-Road-Trip Checklist

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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).

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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?

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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?

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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.

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How to Make the Most of Your Long Australian Vacation

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Have you decided to take the plunge and go on a long vacation in a faraway country like Australia? Well, that’s excellent considering Australia is one of the most gorgeous countries in the world. And while most tourists will say that it’s simply too far away, it’s definitely worth the time, cost and the long flights. However, if you’re considering going to Australia for a vacation you need to make a serious plan for this kind of vacation seeing as it’s simply impossible to see all there is to see in a week. Two weeks is the least you should spend traveling across Australia and even then, good organization is the key. Read on to learn some tips on how to make the most on this trip of a lifetime you’re going to spend in this beautiful country.

How to plan a longer trip

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The first thing you need to take into consideration once you start planning your nice long vacation in Australia is the fact that the country is huge. This means that it’s basically impossible to see the whole country by simply driving from one end of the country to the other. A better way to spend your vacation in Australia is to focus on one type of vacation. So instead of lots of packing and unpacking, spending too much time on airports, bus terminals and long road trips simply decide whether you prefer an adventurous trip, a beach vacation, or maybe something else completely. While it’s difficult to accept the fact that you won’t be able to see everything there is to see, with the time constraint and taking into consideration that this kind of a trip cannot be cheap, it’s definitely better to start planning your trip with some focus in mind.

Places to visit

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As already mentioned, there are plenty of places to visit in Australia and this is why it’s important to prioritize the things you really want to see. If you don’t like going to the beach, skip Bondi beach in Sydney and visit all the museums you’re interested in. Before you start planning your trip, think about your vacation preferences- if you enjoy finding a good place to relax or you are more interested in parties; if you want to visit historical sites or  you prefer adventurous vacations; if you would like to see the cities or maybe the coastal or outback areas or you just want to enjoy Australian food and wine. By defining what you want to see, it’ll be easier to plan your trip and make the most of it by doing the things you enjoy.

Types of travel experiences

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When it comes to vacationing in Australia, there is something for everyone so all you need to do is take your pick. From busy, vibrant cities, quaint and cute small towns, superb wine regions, to amazingly beautiful ancient rainforests, enchanting mountains, amazing reefs, gorgeous beaches, vast deserts and stunningly unique wildlife. One thing is for sure; you’ll never be bored in Australia.

Think about flights and accommodation

Once again, organization is the key to having a full experience once on a vacation. Some of the things you need to pay attention to are accommodation and how you’re going to get to Australia. It’s best to choose the destinations which are the closest to your origin in order to save time and not spend too much of it on commuting. Another important thing to think about is accommodation. If you’re staying longer, and you should stay as long as possible, avoid hotels and hostels as this is costly. Something that you should take into consideration is renting a place while you’re on your vacation. One of the frequently asked questions by travelers is “Can you pay rent with a credit card?” and not only is the answer YES but you might even get rewarded for it by earning points which you can use for flights or vouchers. So renting a place for yourself can be practical both money-wise and organization-wise.

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Stop looking at the pictures of Australia; instead, book those plane tickets, start planning and packing and go on the vacation you’ll probably ever have in your life.

Why should you go on a Pilgrimage

This guest post was written by Rebecca Brown, an avid traveller from Ireland.

 

Do people even go on pilgrimages today? Really? In the age of the Internet and all that?

Odds are, we are further from God (if there is a God) than we have ever been. And I’m not trying to belittle your belief system, I have one of my own too. However, I never imagined myself as the kind of person to go on an actual pilgrimage. In the sense that I will be walking the same road hundreds of thousands of people have walked since the Middle Ages, a road where people died, and which they traversed to feel closer to their deity. Turns out, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Admittedly, before we took the trip last year, I visited my mother’s homeland (she was born in Eastern Europe). Seeing where she came from felt like a spiritual homecoming, and that’s putting it mildly and overemphasizing it at the same time. When my husband suggested the Camino de Santiago, I was on the fence to say the least. However, he talked me into it, and the five weeks we spent walking across France and Spain were some of the best of our lives. That’s where the inspiration for this piece has come from, and all the people whose faces I am not likely to forget, but who will remain anonymous in the next page or two.

In a nutshell, here is why you should be going on a pilgrimage:

You are either rather young, or rather old

I know it sounds idiotic, but it’s true – we’ve met many young people out looking for adventure. They were in it for the walk, for the miles, for the nights by the campfire, for getting soaked in the middle of nowhere and chasing after a bus, (knowing that riding it is not the true Camino way, but nevertheless caring more about being dry than a true pilgrim). Not all were believers, and not all wanted to come, but I met one of them at Santiago de Compostela, who said it was the best vacation of her life.

On the other hand, we met an older gentleman from York. He has been walking a different Camino each year for five years. He told me he needed the time to spend in his own head, and that nothing can get your brain working like moving your legs. He’d been a top level executive for ten years, and now that he was one no longer, he wanted the time and the space to reflect on those years, the failures and the big wins. No better way to see yourself more clearly than to walk five hundred miles, he said. I’m thinking he’s probably right.

You (don’t) believe in God

Of course, there are those who take pilgrimages to feel closer to God, even today. There are also those who don’t quite believe, but would like to. The devout are some of the most interesting people to talk to on the Camino – they are calm, collected, and they can absolutely motivate you when you are about to chuck your shoes in the ditch and fly home. There are amazing heartfelt conversations to be had while you walk along. You may often find yourself questioning your own views of the world, and I don’t just mean your spiritual beliefs.

You want a challenge

This is admittedly me. I wanted to challenge myself physically and mentally – and see if I could do it. Turns out I can, even if I did want to quit three times. Let me warn you, there will be blisters. There will be rain and wind. There will be annoying people bugging you, but you can’t avoid them anyway. But you will have time to think, you will have time to breathe (I can’t stress this enough) and you will have the incentive to open your heart just a bit more. By the way, I am a terrible cynic in my everyday life, but something about the Camino has changed me. I have not only traveled from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela, I have learned more about life and people in those 800 kilometers than I thought I could.

If this short rant has sold the Camino the Santiago to you as well, here are some of my expert tips:

  • Choose a reliable tour operator. We went with Follow the Camino, based on a recommendation, and we were never once sorry.
  • Choose even more reliable shoes. I finally bought these Hanwag Trek Light ones, and they were great – after I paired them with the right socks.
  • Choose the most reliable socks. The socks are the most important part of your gear, don’t underestimate them for a second.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Upping your water intake will help you feel and walk better, no question about it.
  • Leave the prejudice behind. Simply enjoy the walk and the air and the company. That’s what you’re there for.

Have you ever walked the Camino de Santiago? Would you like to, and if yes, what are your reasons? If these eight hundred plus words have not sold you the idea of trekking eight hundred kilometers, let me know why you are still unconvinced!