Road Trip Planner: Tips for an International Road Trip

how to plan an international road trip

Traveling is an adventure in and of itself. But a road trip brings a unique and special kind of memory-making opportunity. No longer at the beck and call of a pilot or train conductor, stops can be made whenever an opportunity presents itself. A captivating waterfall? Yes, stop there. A historic site? Of course, take a look around.

The open road awaits those who embrace it. Continue reading to learn more about planning a road trip for your next international adventure.

Map on the dashboard of a carUnsplash

Research Your Route and Build an Itinerary

There are, of course, several things to do before embarking on a road trip. One of the first things to do is research your route to create an itinerary.

If there are cities on a dream list, start there. Begin by mapping a route from the airport or other port of entry to your must-see cities. Alternatively, the starting point may be at a car rental agency, which could be located in another part of the city or a different city together. (More on driving in a foreign country below.)

Have fun with the planning process. Map out the route online and then do a deep dive into the cities along the way. Take note of those that are off the beaten path, too. Conduct a web search of the cities using keywords such as "Things to do in [city name]" or "Sites to see along [route or interstate name or number]" to find unique things that you might not otherwise learn.

 Van driving through Arches National Park, USAUnsplash

Learn How To Drive Legally and Safely in a Foreign Country

It’s important for at least two people who’ll be traveling on this epic adventure to obtain an international driver's license that applies to all of the countries on the itinerary. This way, if the driver needs a break or becomes ill, someone else can legally take over that responsibility.

Start by looking online for information on the destination countries' international driver's license requirements. It may be as simple as holding a valid driver's license or be more complex and involve obtaining an international driver's license.

A legal requirement for renting a vehicle in another country as well as driving it is to have valid international car insurance. Obtaining this may be as simple as contacting the travelers' current auto insurance companies to request a coverage extension or new policy for the destination countries. In other instances, the credit card used to book the rental car may provide coverage. Double-check to ensure the coverage is comprehensive. Rental car companies often provide car insurance, which is probably much more expensive than the alternatives.

As for safety, always conduct a web search to learn about a country's local driving culture and laws. Some drivers may drive on the opposite side of the road from what a traveler is accustomed to. There are other countries where driving continuously in a left-handed passing lane is prohibited as it's only for quick and strategic passing. Learning the local customs and laws is a beneficial and proactive way to stay safe.

When renting a car, always read the fine print. That way, if a car needs a full gas tank before turning it back in, there won't be any surprises in the way of extra surcharges. Conduct a walk around the vehicle's exterior and take pictures of any damaged or worn areas before documenting the findings with the attendant, even before leaving the rental lot. Remember to inspect the interior before any luggage is placed inside or the passengers pile into their seats. 

Related: A Guide To Temporary Car Insurance While Traveling

Empty road in Atacama Desert, ChileUnsplash

Research the Location of Service Stations

One thing that any good road trip must have is a service station. Never let a gas-powered vehicle go below a quarter tank before refilling. Similarly, an electric vehicle's battery should never be allowed to go below 30 percent. As part of the itinerary planning process, research the locations of service stations along your route. It's the mark of a great road trip to never run out of gas or end up with a depleted battery.

Of note, not all countries have an infrastructure in place to handle electric vehicle charging at every service station. That being the case, it is important to understand the availability of charging stations and their locations in every country on an intended itinerary to make sure charging ports are available. Otherwise, going with a gas-powered vehicle is a better option all around.

Airalo eSIM app

Stay Connected With an eSIM

When traveling on an epic road trip, no one wants to lose cell service. In the case that you become lost, run out of gas, or get a flat tire, you'll need a way to stay connected and get assistance. Plus, you'll want to share photos and updates of your road trip along the way!

The easiest way to stay connected with loved ones at home and make calls in the local area is to purchase an eSIM from Airalo. Getting one is simple, and you can choose from local (single-country) or regional eSIM packages for your trip. Here's how to get started:

  • Download the Airalo app (iOS | Android) or visit the Airalo website
  • Find an eSIM package for your trip.
  • Follow the step-by-step instructions to install your eSIM. 
  • Turn on your eSIM line when you arrive at your destination.
  • Instantly connect to a mobile network. 

When embarking on a road trip, remember that it's just as much about the journey as the destination. The trip itself is where a lifetime of memories will be made. Start by using our helpful road trip planner, and then get ready to hit the open road!

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