No. Not that sort of flirtation. A road trip flirtation.
Travel choices can get a bit, well, difficult. There’s a whole world out there, and knowing where to go next can be overwhelming. And when you’re spending good money, you know you want to wring the most out of every hard-earned penny.
But sometimes you just need to go somewhere. You wake up to the sun achieving the kind of wattage you haven’t felt in months, and your soul says lets get lost. Here’s how to make that happen.
- You Need A Map
And not one of those newfangled SatNav thingies. A real, proper, folded, crumpled and with unidentified stains map. On which you are going to scope out the sections through which you can drive in the time you have available for your two or three days of bliss. If you’re in the UK, then that could take you most of the way across the country. Unless you live in Inverness or Truro, then you may be so very happy where you are that the road trip loses its allure anyway.
So what’s looking good? Where have you never been? Where did you love, and never got the chance to return?
Are there any areas you’re ruling out? Like the channel coast on the first day of summer holidays? Somerset during Glastonbury? Figure those out too.
- You Need A Mission
What’s your soul looking for? Noise, action, and nightlife? A long walk in the woods?
Pick some of the places on your list. Now’s the time to put Mistress Google to work. Think of your interests, and match them with locations, then see what comes up on Google images. This, strangely, was how we once ended up at the Nantwich Cheese Festival. And also the Top Secret Nuclear Bunker (I jest not) at Hack Green. Highly recommended by the way, albeit sobering.
Try to find a couple of things to anchor your trip, because that will give you a purpose. But do feel free to ditch them completely if something more alluring catches your eye. After all, that’s what a travel flirtation is all about.
- You Need A Bed
I’m firmly of the view that a travel flirtation needs nothing more than a safe place to lay your head. However, if fabulous hotels make you happy, then go search for last minute offers. Don’t ignore the bargainous options of airbnb, a Travelodge or other chain, some of which have amazingly cheap rooms in wonderful places (yes, Ludlow Travelodge, I’m smiling at you).
It’s difficult to know whether to book, or to take your chances. Booking commits you to a destination and a timescale. Not booking could land you somewhere fabulous and unexpected but sleeping in the car is a possible and less happy outcome, especially for those of us of a certain age. Be guided by the season, and by the sparsity or otherwise of population and therefore accommodation options in your chosen location. I’ve found tourist information centres a great source of last minute options whilst on the road, even going so far as to call around the local B&B owners to check for vacancies.
- You need to pack, and fast.
This is the time to remember smugly that you keep a bag of travel toiletries ready to go. And if not, go and do it now! Pull out your tried and tested travel clothes, and maybe consult that list you keep for short trips to make sure you don’t forget your undercrackers.
- Take your Travel Journal
Adventures can keep on giving. Take your journal, and in ten years time, I guarantee you’ll have a really good time reliving all those memories. The sheep that assaulted me somewhere near Flash, and another that tried to get in the car on Clee Hill, Shropshire. (And no, I don’t normally have problems with sheep.) Looking at a poster of the impact of a nuclear bomb dropped on Birmingham at Hack Green Secret Bunker, then later laughing at the 80s civil service furniture on display. Ah, those first job memories. Getting a replacement car while ours was in for servicing, and being presented with a convertible that we took to the beach at Barmouth. These days make the happy punctuation of our lives, and journling keeps them memorable.
- And drive
Roll out your favourite songs. Get the wind in your hair. Laugh because you can. Tell us about it when you get home. Let’s go get lost…