The Christmas season is here again; this time of the year is characterized by a lot of road/vehicular movements across the nation. If you happen to plan on going on one of these interstate swings, here is just how to have fun while at it:
Carry out the regular checks on your car before you leave: ensure everything mechanical and electrical about your car is in order. Here is a quick checklist of some of the areas you (not entirely by yourself, get a mechanic too) shouldn’t fail to pay attention to: your car’s cooling system, suspension, steering; also your tyres, wheel-hubs/bearing, your brakes, lights, wiper blades (fluid level too), battery, basic electricals. For Auto-gearboxes, get it right with the dare-devil transmission fluid, don’t forget the biggest boy of them all; your engine which literally calls the shots. You will do well to be honest and thorough enough to check yourself!
Get a Camera or use your phone well: always remember the golden rule: snap and share; the fun is more in the sharing than in the snapping. Hence, take advantage of the internet and the available social networks like facebook, twitter and the rest of them to get the word out, you can take it a notch higher by sharing it across interested groups over the internet. On a very shallow level, this happens to be the easiest way to get your friends that flew very envious because they definitely are missing out on something. Capture as much as you can, make new friends and capture even more; ensure the elements of the background of your images scream road-trip!
Money, money and again, money: As much as you might be tech-savvy with all the ‘switches’, the ‘visas’ and the ‘masters’; nothing beats the appearance of raw cash. I personally remember sleeping in a filling station once with all my virtual moneybags. As a precautionary measure, add an extra 20-30% to your budget to account for fuelling; spontaneous shopping, hotels (you just can’t tell) and emergencies which can range from common tyre purchases to unfortunate vehicle towing. On the flipside, don’t bring all your life-savings along all in the name of emergency.
Are you comfortable enough? To be frank its not all cars that can make a memorable road trip; I have to be literally out of options to find myself(6ft+) in a Kia Picanto (no hard feelings). Ensure your vehicle is road trip compliant with soft seats, enough head and leg room; basically with enough space to comfortably accommodate everyone you intend to carry. Get rid of any element or factor that might pose a threat to your outmost comfort; because to be sincere, an average Nigerian road trip is so much fun with countless bumpy actions to keep you alert. Don’t overuse your air-conditioning system and try to maintain low stress levels.
Make Unusual stops and be Democratic as much as you can: The key is to stay flexible, don’t make your road trip which is supposed to be fun another chore or office work which must strictly go according to a mapped out plan; be spontaneous, but still keep your eyes on the price. Endeavour to consider the cravings of others which might be kids or friends, because at the end of the day everyone should have fun.
Be Mindful of what you eat: On a typical road trip from Lagos to far South-Eastern Nigeria where I am from, you have to pass through 7states with tons of local meals you just might want to give a shot at. But I’d rather be safe than sorry, so I stick with my ‘snacks and fruits only’ golden rule which has worked for me on several occasions. However, if you chose to be a nutritional tourist, you might not escape the adventures of ‘squat and bush’.
Bond and share stories: Don’t kill the spontaneity with just your kind of music or with music throughout the entire trip. It can be so surprising how certain road events or features can spark up very interesting conversations which might just create an opportunity to learn new things or even bond better. If you have children do well to indulge them as much as you can, besides you easily would have flown. This is an assured way to keep things light and fun.
Don’t Bank on the ‘Commercial bus’ trick: If you are not conversant with the road you intend plying, make conscious efforts to ensure you have a clearer picture of where you are headed. I personally don’t cram maps; I rather stick with taking note of some landmark features which represent certain areas along my road trip route. This is not to say maps are not the ultimate guides. Before the trip ensure you know the exact route to take as your primary assurance of not getting lost, if that doesn’t work out, you then can tail a commercial bus or buses you are sure they are headed your direction.
Track your actual fuel consumption rate and fill up at projected intervals: this is very important! After the first hour of your trip you should be able to tell how much fuel your car consumes over a certain period of time. With this data at hand you can make projections and stop to re-fuel at the right intervals to avoid stopping too frequently or getting stranded along the road.
Avoid Night trips and weird Hotels: when you have to get off the road because the night is drawing near and you are nowhere close to your destination, avoid creepy hotels; there are specific reasons they are that cheap and you shouldn’t fall for such. You might not know exactly how a road trip will turnout, so at this point you have to rely on your discretion.
Plan for breakdowns or road mishaps: Help yourself and even others. I remember once along Umuahia, just a couple of minutes after we took off on that road trip, we unfortunately got stuck in a small ditch. After close to an hour we were lucky to have gotten a towing rope from a 911-tipper; what this means is that when you plan ahead for possible odd events, you might end up helping someone else. Also, when you proactively engage in planning for mishaps you unconsciously remind yourself how important it is to drive safely and obey traffic rules in a bid to stay alive and get to your destination in one piece. Hence, travel along with your torch-light in place, jerry-can, first-aid kit, towing ropes, traffic triangles and the best possible road-attitude.
Flickr credit:The Vuvuzela Diaries