- Choose the car that suits the journey.
- The Driver is always in the middle of the road!
- Choose a car size you are comfortable with.
- Carry lots of local money – toll booths are tricky.
Why is it Essential to Pick Up a Few Self-Driving Tips?
Quite simply because driving on foreign land is a daunting prospect. You might have studied your maps, but you haven’t been there. You know what kind of terrain will greet you, but you don’t have the intimate knowledge without driving it yourself.
So here I am with my overview, from my own experiences, which I hope will be helpful if you are considering a Patagonia self-drive adventure anytime soon.
Start Off By Knowing the Road
Hiring a car and setting out on the open road is a fantastic freedom. Stopping to appreciate the wonders of nature wherever, whenever, and for as long you want is the essence of self-driving. However, to get the best out of your trip it is essential to ensure you make the effort to know the roads before setting off.
- Talk to people. Always my favourite advice. Have a chat.
- Ask the staff in the car hire office about road conditions, and their favourite places to stop.
- Talk to locals, tell them the places you are planning to go so they can give you advice.
- Ask them for tips and hints about troublesome spots, hidden gems and missing road signs.
Be Choosy, Not Stingy
Do not choose your hire car based on price alone. It will be a Major Mistake on Your Part If You Settle for a Car Solely Because It’s Cheaper.
Sealed roads are common on most of the self-drive routes, but you will come across a road less travelled, and be tempted to follow it, so make sure you can. Which car would suit your needs in that case?
Consider the amount and size of luggage you are carrying, your and your passengers’ comfort among other factors. One of the most common mistakes is not preparing as seriously for self-drive trips as you would have for other journeys, such as Patagonia trekking or hiking. You should know, all travel needs proper planning.
Try to Rent a Car That is of Similar Size to the One You Are Used to Driving
Spatial awareness is crucial when driving on unfamiliar roads, and if you cannot sense the size of your car, it is hard to sense the space around it. I know this from experience. I was given a free upgrade, from compact to full size, which seemed great but driving on narrow roads in a big car was actually quite troublesome, and stressful.
Chile in particular loves a toll booth. There are plenty of them on the main roads and do not expect the toll booth attendants to speak English. We carried a bag of small notes and coins, which we could easily hand over and get back any change. It’s a lot easier to have the cash within reach rather than have to search for wallets. The tolls themselves are quite cheap, so don’t worry about having the exact money (unless your passenger is an accountant), the attendant has all the change lined up ready to hand back.
Easier Than Left and Right
We can all get confused with directions when travelling so my partner and I came up with an easy idea that never failed, and was never forgotten. Simply put, the driver is always in the middle of the road and the passenger is in the gutter. It may sound simple but it works.
Check Out Your Connectivity Before You Set Out on the Drive
It is important to know whether the mobile connection you’re using is strong enough to be used where you are going.It is important to check whether you can actually trust your mobile connection when you’re out there appreciating the beauty of Nature itself. Ideally, you should check in advance where you can expect service, and make sure people know where you intend to be. Its ok to be cut off from the World, but not when you don’t expect to be.
These are the nuances of self-driving that we are remarkably good at explaining to you. All our self-drive partners are extremely experienced and organized. We provide detailed maps and directions, and where possible will give you pre-loaded GPS units to let you explore the open road with confidence, not concern.
– by Forward Travel Founder Rose Toohey