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In this installment of the #GetCreativeWithPorsche series the creative director of Curves Magazine, Stefan Bogner highlights the planning behind the perfect road trip
Road trips are awesome. The feeling of exploring new places while also exploring the potential of your pride and joy away from the daily commute is brilliant fun. “A good road trip will last forever in your brain,” says Stefan Bogner. “It’s a bit like the music that was playing during your first kiss – it stays with you for life.” I couldn’t agree more. As the child of parents who love road trips, I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled a lot with four wheels under me. The earliest memory I have of a road trip is when I was barely off the ground and about 500-metres from our destination in Nainital, our white Esteem had a puncture. The mood was grim but it was the first time I’d seen tyre being changed and I was ecstatic, much to the annoyance of my family. While I’d love to bore you with my anecdotes, I’m not the expert here, Stefan is, so let’s get right into it!
Probably the most overlooked step of any road trip is researching. Sure, you could set a destination on your phone and you should be fine but if you just plan ahead, you can make your road trips a lot more enjoyable.
“The most important thing is to take your time. If you were planning a month-long holiday, you’d take a long time getting it all just right. It’s the same with a road trip: preparation is key. This stage takes up about two thirds of my time and is my favourite aspect. I feel like an adventurer when I start to make new plans and the anticipation starts to build. It’s the coolest part.” says Bogner.
While Google Maps is a very nifty tool, there is a reason why actual professional maps still exist. They provide a lot more detail. “I am old-school and I love to study paper maps and guide books. Get to grips with reading a map and you’ll get a better sense of place and perspective. Look for the green roads, as these are the scenic ones, and pay attention to the contour lines to get an idea of the topography. When you really study a physical map, the brain starts to absorb the information and when you come to drive a route, you’ll know much better where you are.”
That’s not to say you need to be reading a map while driving, use the physical map to set the basis and build on it with online maps. “Digital tools have their place too. Once I’ve studied my maps and books, I’ll go online to add more information. I use software like Google Maps to adjust the route if I need to and to check journey times. It’s easy, but I don’t enjoy this part as much.”
Stefan recommends going somewhere close by if it is your first road trip. If you have friends or family in the area you’re heading to, even better, they can help you with suggesting routes and providing information. Always trust word of mouth over a route that Google Maps is showing you. “Get in touch with locally-based friends, or use forums, Instagram and Facebook to learn about where you’re going and ask people for advice. Some tourist boards are excellent sources of information and inspiration.”
Another important aspect is timing. The last thing you want on your weekend getaway is having the rest of the world in the same place at the same time. Try heading to Shimla in peak season and it won’t feel much different to Delhi. Only colder. “My one timing rule is to avoid school holidays. I never go anywhere in July and August. Don’t be afraid to ask the locals the best time of year to visit their area, as no one will know the answer better than them.”
Okay we’ll start this section off with a disclaimer. You should not be going on a road trip right now. Even if you are perfectly healthy and think you will be in isolation, you may be carrying the virus to a place that didn’t have it. Do not take the risk. Grim note aside, it is very important to check your car before you head out. Imagine you’re all set, wake up nice and early and realise your left-rear wheel has a slow puncture. Worse still, imagine you don’t realise it. “Making sure the car is prepared is vital, especially if it’s an old one. I’ve been on trips with serious racing cars that you can also drive on the road and I always make sure I’ve had a look over them before I leave. Check the brakes, the lights, the liquids … basically, check everything. I always carry spare oil, some basic tools and, if I’m in an older model, I tend to take some electrical spare parts as the bare minimum. Things like a spare battery, rotor arm for the distributor, spark plugs, starter set. I also always pack some tyre foam as that has rescued me a lot.”
The next step is deciding what you need to take along with you. Make sure to carry the essentials but hold off on unnecessary things, you’re heading out to get away from your home, don’t carry it with you. “Think about what to pack in your bag. It depends on the country and time of year but I always take a few very lightweight coats to keep off the rain and wind. A water bottle is essential, as is a multi-tool like a Swiss Army knife, and I’ll normally take a pair of trail running shoes as they’re light, comfortable and I can get out of the car to hike a short way for a photo.”
Okay, so your road trip is under way, the sun is out and the car is feeling good. I suggest getting some good road trip worthy tunes going to further drive home the liberating sensation. Bogner has some more useful tips though, “Preparation on the trip is as important as beforehand. I have a professional-grade weather app on my phone, which I check regularly. While I have a no-eating rule in my cars I always pack some mess-free energy bars to keep my sugar levels up if I’m on a longer journey. I’ll sometimes drive for eight hours a day and cover maybe 350 kilometres, and my photography is on top of that, so while I love finding good restaurants, having some snacks handy is important.”
While it is possible to cover insane distances in a single shot, believe us we’ve tried, it is more enjoyable to take your time. After all, the journey is more important than the destination. “Have a rough idea of how far you want to drive each day but make sure you give yourself time to enjoy the trip, rather than running a tight schedule and insisting on being in a certain place by a precise time. Savour the scenery and enjoy the driving. If you take your time and you’re open to conversations when you fill up with fuel you’ll meet interesting people along the way.”
We’ve all had that feeling after a holiday that the past few days went by too fast, maybe it was the high spirits that caused it. Anyways, it is important to be in the moment, if there is a breathtaking vista in front of view, take it in before taking a picture of it for the ‘Gram. “Just as I’d recommend taking your time, so you should try to minimise the distractions. Switch off your phone and don’t constantly post where you are on social media. Part of the reason I don’t like camera phones is that I like to go offline when I’m shooting. When you get to your hotel in the evening, then you can switch back on and collate all your pictures. It’s much more fun and you’ll get to re-live the day again.”
Moreover, it is important to reflect on your holiday soon after its over, while the memories are still fresh. “Returning home from an amazing trip can be a come-down so take some time out to look back through your photos and re-live all the amazing things you’ve experienced. If you turned your phone off during the journey and weren’t constantly updating your social media, you’ll remember different things when you’re looking back and it’ll make you more enthusiastic about planning the next adventure.”
The current situation with the coronavirus pandemic is not the ideal time to be doing a road trip, but it is the perfect time to plan a road trip. You have all the time in the world to do so. We’ve listed down our own top tips for a road trip earlier and with a large amount of time spent driving cars to remote places, we’re not too far from being professional road trippers either! So, plan where you want to go, map your route and get ready, but only get going once things are safe.
Check out other stories in the #GetCreativeWithPorsche series!