The road ahead - Weekend

The road ahead

The best time to plan for a road trip is now

 

SOME activities, like Valentine’s Day, are so cliche. But never road trips (because no two road trips are ever the same). So if ever you’re not so much into this commercialized frenzy happening tomorrow (and the travel bug, instead of the love bug, bites you ever so often), then it might actually be a good time to plan this early for a road trip (instead of trying to drive yourself mad making reservations for two at some fancy resto). Anyway, here are some essentials when planning a road trip:

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Picking your trip

This is actually the toughest part when planning a road trip: where to go, exactly. When deciding on an end point, the trick is to keep your choices to a minimum, like three major destinations perhaps. That way, you can quickly get into the planning stage, Plan B included. Don’t worry, there’s always another time for the other destinations.

Company you keep

Will this be a barkada or family trip, or both? Make sure to apprise those who you’ll be bringing along of the situation and the possible scenarios. Road trips, which take hours, sometimes half a day, even more, might not be for everyone, but you can always challenge those whom you wish to experience something awesome, if not epic. And children? Never underestimate the capacity of children when going on long drives. There might be the occasional “Are we there yet?” spiels, but that’s nothing that candy or chips can’t address.

Go ro-ro

Road trips within the island of Cebu are easier to plan and you can do it during any weekend or holiday. You can even do it on a whim. Inter-island road trips, though, can be quite tricky and need a more detailed itinerary. For one, this involves ro-ro (roll-on roll-off) crossings, and schedules tend to be haphazard (a number of ro-ros leave a couple of hours past the scheduled departure, which is more of the norm than exception). So if you’ve decided on which ports to take, try to call the ship companies offices first to confirm schedules.

Tight skeds a no-no

Since inter-island trips take several days, always give a few hours allowance for your daily transit itinerary. Apart from the ro-ro delays, dealing with road traffic can get unpredictable. There’s a chance you’d get a wrong turn, or traffic on might come to a crawl. And if you’re using apps like Google Maps, double the number of hours indicated on travel time, since the app does not take heavy traffic into consideration. Also, the slowest part of the road trip is when you’re driving through the center of towns or cities.

Don’t overpack

The lighter your load, the better. You not only can maneuver your vehicle better, you consume less fuel. You’d be surprised at how “urbanized” certain areas that sound so remote are, much more those traversed by national roads. This means that you can buy a bulk of your supplies like food along the road. Bring light clothes and shoes. Leave the cabinet behind. Pack wisely.

Prepare for the right mindset

If you’re planning a road trip this summer vacation, do some research on where you’re heading, and share this with the group. That way, when you’re already, say, in Bicol, you won’t have problems doing as the Bicolanos do. Being mindful of customs in different regions becomes second skin. By having the right mindset, road trips become far more enjoyable and harmonious.

Be a traveler, not a tourist

The fact that you’re courageous enough to embark on a road trip makes you a traveler. Nothing can be more annoying during trips than tourists, as they demand comfort and the “highest quality” at every turn. Let’s face it, different places have different realities, which means their standards vary from those that you’re used to. If your ultimate aim is to take selfies in full fashionista mode at tourist spots, then road trips might not be for you. Spare everyone else the agony of your company and take a plane instead. Otherwise, you’d make a great traveler, and in this case, a certified road tripper.

Car checklist

MAKE sure to have your car checked one or two weeks before the trip. In case of major repairs or parts replacements, you’d still have adequate time to fix things, adjust your budget, or decide if your car is roadworthy or not. You can also start early so you can deal with expenses without hurting your pockets.

Check tires and have these rotated. Replace wornout tires.

During the road trip, make sure the tire inflation pressure for your front and rear tire matches the specs, in this case for driving with cargo.

The brakes and brake fluid level must be checked thoroughly and brake pads replaced if needed.

Make sure the dials and gauges on your dashboard are functioning properly.

Bring several photocopies of your vehicle’s official receipt (OR) and car registration (CR) as you will need them when buying ro-ro tickets. If your car needs to be registered and license renewed, do so.

Check the car’s oil and transmission fluid, battery, head lamps, fog lamps, hazard lights, and interior lights, among others. Make necessary replacements.

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