Following on from my market shopping tips, now it’s time for more ideas inspired by my travels around regional France researching my new book (‘My Little French Kitchen’ is due out on October 10). From Nice to Brittany, the team and I covered a lot of ground – checking out markets and local farms, and scouting locations to shoot the book (although perhaps navigating my way out of the crazy Parisian streets in a van was the biggest challenge of all!).
In addition to getting your vehicle thoroughly checked out before you hit the road, here are my tips for a successful (and stress free) road trip:
1. A good soundtrack is key! Always cue up your iPod/Spotify/MP3 playlist before leaving home to keep you entertained on the road. Here’s my Tour de France Spotify playlist. It got a lot of mileage in the months when I was driving here, there and everywhere researching and shooting the new book.
2. Pack (energy-filled) snacks. Rather than reaching for lollies that will only give you a brief sugar hit, instead try to pack snacks that will help you concentrate whilst driving. Look for foods that are full of energy. Clementines and mandarins will keep your car smelling fresh – but you’ll need a fellow traveller to peel them for you if you’re driving! You could try my salted butter caramel popcorn for a sweet travel treat. Road tripping is also a good opportunity to pick up snacks from local producers.
3. Stay hydrated. Remember to pack lots of water for everyone in the car. Freeze some bottles before you leave – they’ll keep your snacks cool.
4. Throw in the picnic rug for stopovers. Who says all the fun needs to be had in the car? Pulling the car over to a rest stop is the perfect excuse for an impromptu picnic.
5. Don’t rely on your sense of direction. Make sure your hire car has GPS (enquire about it when organising your initial quote). And if you’re driving in rural or regional areas – it’s best to have a paper map too, in case signal drops out, or addresses aren’t listed on Google Maps (speaking from experience!).
6. Pack your sunglasses. A must!
7. Stay alert (and entertained). Ideally you’ll be road tripping with fellow passengers (to share the driving) but if you’re travelling solo, why not download some audio books or language CDs to keep you alert whilst driving? When I was driving for ‘My Little French Kitchen’, I was usually travelling with a team, which proved a good opportunity to brainstorm ideas.
8. Have an itinerary, and be prepared. Feeling organised will free up your headspace to concentrate on the bigger picture – staying safe on the road. Might seem a bit over the top, but here’s a minute-by-minute breakdown of essential things to do when getting familiar with your new rental car.
9. Don’t blow the budget. Book your hire car in advance to cut down on costs (and avoid last-minute stress). Road trips are good way to save money when holidaying, if you plan ahead and do your research.
10. Stay connected. Same goes for long haul flights – charge everything before you leave (iPad, laptop, phone and camera), and remember to bring your charger and adapters if travelling overseas. If you’re planning a long distance road trip, you might want to tee up special adapters (especially for your laptop), so that you can charge on the go. Safe travels!