How To Plan the Perfect Road Trip

Tips on surviving your next four-wheel journey

| posted on January 10, 2012

Good friends and a reliable vehicle, vital components of a great off-road adventure. Photo: Lowe-White

A good road trip ripe with surf and friends can be one of the most fulfilling moments of a surfer’s existence. On the contrary, a bad road trip marred by bitter bros, breakdowns, and a lack of any plan can turn the trip of the year into something far more sour. To help keep your next road trip on cruise control, we pooled together a few pointers to keep in mind before you leave the driveway.

The Right Crew: Quite possibly the most important part of any trip is the company you keep. Granted, there are some friends that are perfect for a post-surf beer, but you’d rather crawl across ground glass than spend a full week with them. When you’re planning out your trip, make sure you surround yourself with friends that aren’t predisposed to complaining, allergies, or random acts of violence. One toxic man on the trip can kill the vibe before you even hit the interstate. Pick your crew wisely.

The Right Fuel. When it comes to a road trip, there is no condiment more vital to your survival than peanut butter. Inexpensive, full of energy and it won’t ripen if placed under the seat of your car for weeks at a time; it was as if this stuff was invented for the road trip. Other alternates include energy bars, loaves of bread, and if you’re manly enough, canned meats. Lastly, and we can’t emphasize this one enough, bring more fresh water than you think you’ll need. And whenever the opportunity presents itself, replenish your supply.

The Right Attitude: When you’re traveling the coast by car, whether in the US or abroad, there will inevitably be figurative bumps in the road. Your car will be break down, someone will get food poisoning, you’re shaken down by the federales—these things happen and are mostly out of your control. However, what you can control is how you react to them. Whatever misfortune befalls your trip will only make for that much better of a story when you get back home. “Remember when we were robbed at gunpoint? Or that night Tim went missing and we found him a day later passed out at that bar?” Think of these things as classic moments in the making, not things that ruined your trip.

The Right Equipment: We recommend traveling in a truck with a camper. There’s plenty of space to store everything from your boards to your cooler, plus it doubles as a safe (reasonably) place to crash if you can’t find a place to set up camp. Other things worth packing include a tent, mosquito repellent, a half-dozen bars of wax, at least three tubes of sunscreen sporadically hidden in your car, charcoal, wood, waterproof matches, and some hidden-away cash.

Have A Plan: Before you set out, make sure you’re leaving under the best possible conditions. Know what the swells are doing, which points or beachies might be firing, which campgrounds are close to nearby breaks. Also, bring a good, old-fashioned map. Your smart phone won’t always get reception and the last thing you want to do is leave home blind without direction.

What do you think is the most important thing you can bring on a road trip? Leave your answer in the comments below.

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  • Younes ARABAB

    That is pretty much what it is!! you can meet the right people also when you are travelling solo or with just an other friend on the trip. Small crew is always better than a mob!!!

  • Elgenio Derbez

    Ha! On our surf trips to Mita for a month we took a sleeping bag, salt water soap, surf boards, lots of wax and two five gallon jugs for fresh water. Bought some fresh food and smoke at the market in Guadalajara. Typhoid well out at Mita. Cold beers on Tuesday and Thursday. A drink, hand made tortillas and eggs from the chickens running around under the table for a dollar. Fresh fish and shell fish we caught and pulled of the rocks. In to Puerto Vallarta on 2 weekends for water and fun. When we got home there wasn’t one ounce of fat on anybody. Got greedy one trip and got caught by the rainy season and luckyly we had a VDub bus on that trip and floated out over the swamp to get out. Two hours to drive 15 miles out to Mita from Sayulita. Great adventures. 1973

  • Elgenio Dervez

    45 years surf bumming and parting. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The ocean is my home.

  • Taka Nozaki

    Surfer blog always hit the right spot. This article was very worth reading from the top to the bottom. The Facebook asked the same question and I kinda answered the same thing written in this article, “the right friends” to go with, and be ready to enjoy the troubles on the way.

  • John

    If you don’t have a lot of time, have a lot of money. If you don’t have a lot of money, have a lot of time.

  • justin

    not having a plan can be fun… just hit up Santa Cruz without a plan and scored perfect waves for three days.