After passing a sticky morning ducking into air-conditioned souvenir shops and drinking iced coffee in the shade of a crowded terrace, my friend Robyn and I decided to escape Cyprus’ landlocked capital city Nicosia and head towards the Mediterranean. We rented a car without a GPS, hoping our generic map would get us to our destination. Lucky for us, Cyprus is about the same size as New Jersey; if we got lost we’d reach water sooner or later and could follow the coast home.
Within two hours we made it to Pissouri’s beaches, arriving just as visitors and the relentless heat dispersed with the sinking sun. My toes brushed the shell-less sea floor of Aphrodite’s rumored birthplace, and somehow the water felt purer than any I had touched before, more fluid and buoyant as if it were just as alive as the small fish that came to nibble my ankles. Our hair heavy with salt and sand still stuck to our feet, we continued on to Paphos for a satisfying seafood meze (and to feed every stray cat I came across), before returning home to sleep the deep sleep that comes only after the exhaustion of a hot summer’s day.
The next day we finished our expedition in theoccupied Turkish territory of the north, climbing the cliffs of Cape Apostolos Andreas and relaxing at an adorable restaurant attached to an old couple’s house. We ate fresh olives and tender meats, the Mediterranean blue and soft on the rocks beside us, as our chef snuck a cigarette out the back window, pressing a finger to his lips so that we didn’t reveal his digression to his wife.
Essentially, the quaintness of Cyprus allows for the perfect road trip: the inability to get really lost, cheap fuel, easily rentable cars and plenty to see in any direction. Apart from the mythical island, poor road trip planning can lead to emergency hotel stops, extra fuel, unplanned for meals and other costly expenses.
General Road Trip Tips:
- Preparing the car: have car insurance information on hand, subscribe to a roadside service and get your car inspected before leaving. Invest in common emergency supplies such as jumper cables, a flashlight, first aid kit and flares, as well as any weather or terrain-specific supplies.
- Planning ahead: figure out where you’d like to visit and make lodging reservations before leaving home. Many places fill up quickly and by reserving early you can look around for the best deals.
- Mapping your route: don’t think of your road trip as a game of connect-the-dots; while highways may be thefastest and most direct route to move between cities, they also can be the most boring. Research scenic byways and scenic country roads and incorporate them into your route as well.
- Leave room for spontaneity: chances are, you probably need more time visiting or getting to each place than you think you do. Make sure your agenda has some padding to give you time to explore roadside attractions, national parks or whatever other gems you come across.
- Don’t rely on your GPS: buy a good map (one that actually has the road names marked), and travel the good ol’ fashioned way. Sure, you may get lost sometimes, but that’s part of the fun!
- Home-ify your car: bring music, audio books, a journal, a blanket or two, a few small pillows, handwipes, toilet paper, plastic grocery bags, water bottles, healthy snacks and anything else that will make your trip comfortable.
- Get better gas mileage: keep tires full, the trunk as light as possible, turn on cruise control, roll up your windows after 40mph and change the oil when necessary.
- Watch out for animals: in Cyprus, I came close to three wild goats. One time in Maine, I braked inches before a moose that could’ve easily destroyed me and my two-door Honda. In Montana I almost got plowed by a herd of wild buffalo. Be on the lookout and be ready to stop or swerve to the left.
- Stay alert: driving for hours on end, especially during the night, can get dangerous. Always have someone awake with the driver.
- Stay safe: while your license plate shows to everyone that you’re not a local, don’t let the inside of your car demonstrate it as well. When leaving the car for any amount of time hide any items (such as pillows or GPS’s) that prove you’re a traveler to prevent someone from breaking in to steal your luggage.
Have your own road trip tips or experiences?
Post them below!