There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to driving your way through your vacation plans. Of course, what those are is entirely based on where you’re going, what your budget is, and what kind of vacation you’re going for. Read our guide for all the pros and cons of taking your car on vacation and decide for yourself if it’s the way to go.
The main advantage of driving through your holiday is the sense of freedom it gives you. Hit the open road with the tunes banging and you already have the makings of a great road trip. Every trip will turn into a road trip with your car available, making even the journeying fun.
You can go anywhere with a road, not limited by space or time. Do you want to see that landmark, but you didn’t feel like it until 3am? Jump in the car and go for it. There’s no waiting for a train that always seems late, and no rushing for a last bus or through airport security for a flight.
The convenience comes in its size too. Getting bikes, tents and other hefty items onto a train or bus can be awkward, if they even have the facilities for transporting such things. Before you know it, you’re smacking passengers with the back wheel or standing awkwardly with it all by the doors, getting in people’s way. Travelling with a lot of bulk, especially if you’re looking for the hiking experience, is best done with a car, where there is a boot and usually a couple of seats free for your bulky stuff to sit in, and a bike rack and roof rack you can make use of.
In your own car you can go at your own pace but also enjoy your own comfort. You will have privacy and comfort that you can’t enjoy on a flight or train unless you’re willing to pay a lot, able to stop when you want to stretch your legs or for something you spotted on the horizon.
Driving your car is a great way to city-hop. If you are heading to Europe, for example, you could take a couple of weeks to cover about five countries. The best way to do this would be to allow the car to take the brunt of the legwork, then take public transport around the city. This means you will lessen some of the disadvantages shown below.
There is always a particular convenience with driving your own car too. You can skip that adjustment period of getting into a foreign car, or simply a car that isn’t yours, and getting used to the new machinery. You won’t look for a stick on an automatic car then drive into the wrong side of a London road – or Australian, Caribbean, Indian or South African road.
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However, it’s not all sunshine and roses. The reason public transport is so cheap is because a lot of people are paying for the service, spreading out the cost of maintenance and gas, theoretically. Driving through your holiday will take a lot of gas, never mind if it’s your means of getting to your holiday. You’ll want to go everywhere and see everything, much more than you would at home, using more gas than you would at home.
Depending on where you’re going, it can be a lot cheaper to take a flight, especially if you’re travelling within the country.
Whether you travel around your destination by car also depends on where you’re going. If you intend to stay in the US, save for Los Angeles and New York, you should be safe enough, with varying degrees of traffic to compete with but at least drivers that are following the same code of conduct.
If you intend to visit a European city, however, or a major East Asian city, leave the car at home. These are cities made long before the invention of the automobile, with narrow streets intended to carry only pedestrians. Your giant American Lincoln Continental is not going to get into any of the tight spaces littered through the city. And every tourist has a story about facing the manic and teeth-clenching experience of driving amongst much faster and riskier European drivers, where motorbikes and scooters are also far more common.
There is a middle ground between wanting to drive through your holiday but not wanting to drive your own car is to get a rental. Taking a road trip through the countryside of all these countries is a very enjoyable experience. With wider roads that bend and weave, going over and under the beautiful landscape.