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Car, van, bicycle: Choose your own adventure


You've seen how to plan a road trip but still haven't decided which transport you will be using?

There are so many of them, it's difficult to get an idea until you've tried them out.

How about making a short list of the advantages and disadvantages of each one to find your perfect ally?

Let's all hit the road!

Road trip by car :

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You’re the organised or stressed-out type when travelling? You hate the unexpected and like to feel safe? No doubt going on a road trip by car is for you. 

Advantages :

  • A roof over your head 

When you go on a road trip by car you are guaranteed to be safe no matter what the weather condition is. When you go to regions that go from sunny to torrential rain in the blink of an eye, it's nice to stay dry in your car (and you even have air conditioning and heating).

  • You can take a lot of luggage with you

Those who talk about cars, also talk about car trunks, or at least a free back seat and therefore more space for luggage. A bag, two bags, or a suitcase, it's up to you to decide what you want to take with you. Remember though that if you're only going for a couple of days, you may not need that pair of heels after all. 

  • You decide when to go and with whom 

Want to leave on Friday at 3 a.m. to enjoy the deserted road? It's up to you. Want to go on a solo trip or with travel buddies? The choice is yours! You'll have understood that it's your road trip, your vehicle, you're totally free to move around and enjoy the experience to the fullest.

  • You can choose to sleep in it 

Road trip cars can be expensive, so to save money on your travel you can choose to sleep in your car. Sure, sleeping in a Fiat 500 will be less practical than in a minivan but it will make the night memorable!

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After the advantages we move on to the disadvantages:

  • You have to find where to park 

The number one concern when you have a car is to find a place to park. Whether you're on a road trip or not, especially in big cities. A car park at 30€ for 3 hours or a place that turns out to be private, you rarely find what you're looking for the first time. The best thing to do is to find out beforehand about the different car parks available or free parking places to avoid paying too much.

  • Not very comfortable if you sleep in it 

Depending on the model of your car, you have more or less space, but between the narrow seats or the belts that tuck into your back your cozy bed will eventually be missed. That said, the experience is even more authentic, and even if you are sleep-deprived, it's never for long!

  • It's easy to get stuck in traffic

Taking the car is also taking the risk of getting stuck in traffic and losing 3 hours to complain about the person who doesn't move forward (no, it won't make you move faster...). The solution is to check the roads that are prone to traffic jams and why not prefer to travel at night.

  • Gas is expensive

The more kilometres you drive, the more you pay. We always budget for gas but a glass here or a trip there and here we are refilling the tank. The trick to avoiding spending half of your salary on diesel is to choose your vehicle carefully (preferably one that doesn't consume too much) and find the stations where gas will cost you a little less, a few cents will make the difference in the end.

For my part, I find that the car is one of the best ways to go on a road trip but only with friends not on my own.

Road trip on a Motorcycle / Scooter :

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The adventurous type, to let yourself be tempted by crazy adventures punctuated by mythical rides on long roads... this feeling of freedom that you are looking for so much, you will certainly find it when you go for a road trip on a motorbike or scooter.

Advantages :

  • Reinforced feeling of freedom

Going out on a motorbike or scooter means feeling the wind against your face when you ride (but still put on a helmet, you're not in a movie, safety first!). You rediscover the pleasure of driving, feeling free on (more or less) deserted roads it’s a different feeling from driving a car. Going on a road trip on a motorbike or scooter is a guarantee of strong sensations.

  • It's practical for moving around

You see them passing you when you are at a standstill in your car, stuck in traffic jams, you envy these people who have chosen a motorbike. Yes, there's nothing better than a motorbike or scooter to spend less time stuck between two vehicles. It's also more practical for getting around. That narrow, winding road you're afraid to take by car is the ideal road for a motorbike or scooter. For sure, in traffic jams the two-wheeler beats the car!

  • Cheaper than a car 

And for gas too… a quicker and cheaper refuelling or lower toll rate. Taking a road trip on a motorbike or scooter also means saving on transport costs compared to other motorised vehicles.

  • Easier to park

Finally, when travelling by motorbike or scooter it is important to find a place to park more easily as our vehicle is smaller. Some places even have special parking spaces reserved for two-wheelers. However, in some cities it can be difficult to find a place for your motorbike, so checking this before you leave will help you avoid finding yourself in a tricky situation on the day.

Disadvantages :

  • It is easier to get your scooter or motorbike stolen or damaged.

Ok it happens with a car and even more so with a bike but it's easier and more tempting to steal a nice scooter parked on the curb. You might be surprised the next morning when you discover that your loved motorcycle is missing. To avoid this, choose watched or secure areas and hope that your potential thieves have an ounce of humanity.

  • You risk getting caught in the rain, or worse, end up completely soaked.

The same goes for countries that are a little cold between the wind and the rain, you can quickly find yourself frozen. You will have understood that on a scooter or motorbike you are very dependent on the global climate and the weather... so we equip ourselves accordingly so we won't cancel everything for a few drops of rain!

  • It is necessary to bring small luggage

Finally, when you leave on two wheels you don't have much room for your luggage. A backpack and the rest on the luggage rack is all that is available to us in terms of storage space. So plan to go light even if you have to wash your clothes a little more often.

Very nice but still not my favourite road trip. That said, for the two-wheeler fans looking for an escape we can't do better!

Road trip in Van :

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Rather solitary in search of freedom, you like to find yourself in your bubble, cut off from the world with all possible comfort. Look no further, the road trip in a van is made for you!

Advantages :

  • It's authentic 

When you think road trip you imagine the cinematic cliché of road 66 in a convertible and the night under the stars through the sunroof of your super van. What if you made that cliché a reality. Going out in a van is authentic and above all unusual, you don't take the wheel of such a vehicle every day, so for once, you can enjoy it!

  • It's super comfortable

Big advantage of road trip in a van: it's equipped. Need to take a nap after hours of driving? A bed is waiting for you right in the back of your vehicle. A little hungry during the trip? Just reach out your arm to the cupboard behind you to grab something to eat (well the best thing to do is to stop on an area or on the side of the road, when driving you keep your eyes on the road).

  • It's economical

In addition to being fully equipped it is economical. Why is that? Well precisely because you don't need to look for accommodation, a place to take a shower or go shopping every other day there you can store and enjoy.

  • We are totally independent  

Having everything at your fingertips allows you to decide on your trip down to the last detail. Feel like sleeping by this beautiful lake? You can even take advantage of it to roast marshmallows under the stars (of course make sure you check that this is allowed before you take possession of the place and send me the bill for your fine). It reinforces that feeling of freedom which is the essence of the road trip.

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Disadvantages :

  • You can quickly cut yourself off from the world

The disadvantage of being totally independent is that sometimes you are self-sufficient. You then meet far fewer people and you may have a tendency to cut yourself off from the world. Sleeping at a hosts’ from time to time allows you to continue to meet people on your journey and to keep the human side of the adventure. 

  • It is an imposing vehicle

Driving a van can sometimes be quite complicated. More imposing than a car, if you're not used to it, you might want to start by driving around your village to get used to it. To park, same fight as with the car if not worse. A space wide enough for a car is not necessarily suitable for a van and for underground parking, the height of your vehicle can sometimes be a trouble.

  • The return of... traffic jams and gas

Once again, in terms of consumption we are quite high on this type of vehicle; a road trip in a van allows you to save on housing but not really on gas or tolls…

  • Isolation can preach depending on the vehicle 

It is comfortable but not too much. Well, it depends a lot on the model. Of course if you have rented a bright new van with all the comfort you will not have any worries. If you have chosen a more classic van, isolation can be a problem. Very cold in winter or very hot in summer, you can't really choose the temperature inside, so you might as well have extra blankets or a fan... 

To find the ideal van if you don't want to invest, I recommend the Yescapa platform which will allow you to rent one according to your criteria.
I confess it's my favourite, by leaving in a van I can go where I want, when I want and spend a few days cut off from the world and the stress of the city. For me, it's like a mini haven of peace.

Because going on a road trip doesn't just mean travelling by motorised vehicle let’s see going on a road trip by bicycle!

Road trip by bike :

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Sportswoman in search of a new challenge, but also in love with nature and new encounters. A road trip by bike is your next adventure!

Advantages :

  • You enjoy the landscape 

When you cycle, unless you want to be the grand winner of your own road trip, you enjoy the landscape. Plains stretching as far as the eye can see, a disused industrial zone (yes it is a little less glamorous), or a snowy mountain that makes you want to climb it, you see everything and you take the time to appreciate it. We are in contact with nature but also with the fauna that walks there, a rabbit, a wild cat, or a squirrel, much more pleasant than the pigeons of the city centre.

  • We keep the human aspect with the people we can meet on the road.

On a bike you don't have a motor so you get tired faster and take more breaks. So much better! It allows us to meet people on our way who are often delighted to exchange with us and to share the little they have to help us hit the road again with even more energy!

  • We practice

Were you in need of cardio? It won't be the case after your bike road trip! You can't improvise it either, a little preparation is necessary if you don't want to go back home after cycling 100m, having a road trip on a bike is training. Loaded with all your luggage, you tackle this hill which will take your thighs and finish the day delighted to find your bed.

  • It's eco-friendly

What could be more environmentally friendly than going on a road trip by bike? Apart from your own energy you don't consume much and for an even more authentic and ecological journey, sleeping at a host is the best solution!

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  • It's economical

No gas to pay, no tolls or parking spaces. Nothing to complain about, here it's the bike that wins! 

Disadvantages :

  • Rain or bad weather can stop us from getting back on the road 

On a scooter or motorbike you depend on the weather, but on a bike even more so. It's difficult to cycle with the headwind for hours or with the rain whipping your face. You'll end up soaked and pissed off. You can never predict weather changes in advance, but if a torrential downpour hits the city why not take the opportunity to visit a few museums or go to a show.

  • Difficult to plan 

The disadvantage that goes with the previous one, a calf cramp, a punctured tyre or simply the desire to stay a little longer with a friendly host, you never know in advance what will happen to you. But that's also the pleasure of road trip biking: you take your time.

  • The road is dangerous

Cycling also means exposing yourself to the dangers of the road that you don't expose yourself to by car. Because the danger usually comes from cars... even worse if you cycle at night. Even though most cities now have cycle paths, some drivers are less vigilant than others. Beyond the cars you can find all sorts of debris on the road that could puncture your tyres... I hope you have enough to fix it otherwise you might end up walking the whole way.

  • We can't take a lot of luggage with us, it has to fit on the luggage rack and on us.

Cycling is already quite an effort, so for carrying the luggage, if you can avoid it is a good thing! That said, apart from on our backs we don't have much space left for our belongings. No choice, we take what is strictly necessary and pack as carefully as possible so that everything fits and we make a checklist so that we don't forget anything. After all a bike road trip is not fashion week, three or four T-shirts will be enough.

  • You always have to be careful with your stuff so that it doesn't get stolen.

The big disadvantage of a road trip by bike is that you always have to keep an eye on your bike and your luggage. It is impossible to put your bike somewhere to visit the city in peace and quiet. The best option is still to find a supervised place, either at a local house or in a closed garage to be sure to find a place where you can find your bike. 

  • You have to be in good shape before you get into it. 

Going on a road trip is physical. If you take a 10-minute tour of the village every Sunday and you think you're ready, you might be surprised. Many people testify that it's a great experience, but it's also very physical, so as in any sport, you need to train a bit before you set off on your adventure.

  • You have to go food shopping every 2 days.

Bicycle and small luggage also mean no fridge or space to store food. So we have to stop more often at a supermarket to buy food. Sometimes it can be quite painful, especially when you have been cycling all day and you still have to go to a supermarket while watching your bike from the corner of your eye…

Cycling is nice but personally, cycling non-stop for days on end and taking the risk of getting caught in the rain, I'm not very tempted about it. I much prefer to have my little comfort... that said, discovering the city by bike on one day, with pleasure!

And finally to finish on the ways to have a road trip :

Road trip by hitch-hiking:

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Are you looking to let go, do you like the unexpected and the human aspect? A hitch-hiking trip is certainly the road trip that will suit you best!

Advantages :

  • We meet people

Yes, a road trip can also be done by hitchhiking. We then focus on the more human aspect of the adventure by meeting these people who accept to help us by getting us into their car. The notion of sharing is at the heart of this road trip and that's what attracts most people to this kind of project.

  • We save money

No gas, no tolls, just like the bike, hitchhiking has its cost advantage. If we decide to sleep at a local's house, the trip may even cost us nothing at all!

  • It's ecological

You choose not to take your own car but to depend on the car of others. Well, that said, you still take the car... but it's still better than taking two cars on the same road. 

Disadvantages :

  • We don't choose our driver

A major disadvantage of hitchhiking is that you don't choose who takes you. It can be quite dangerous. We don't know the person or their intentions but we don't know if they drive well either... As a woman, this can be a stop, some people may think they will take advantage of us. We must therefore be careful without becoming paranoid by following a few simple rules.

  • The wait is long and we take the risk of not finding a charitable soul who will drop us off. 

Between the number of cars that pass by and those that hitch-hike us we will see some passing by. No choice but to be patient. Once someone picks us up, we're not even sure if they'll drop us off at the exact place we want to go either. It's quite random but what is certain is that you have to be patient when you decide to go on a road trip by hitchhiking.

  • We are subject to bad weather

Rain, snow, freezing wind or hot sun, we can't control the weather and we have to stay there if we want someone to give us a lift.

Again, for someone who likes to have his little comfort, this is not the best choice. Having said that, when it comes to adventure, we are served!

Depending on your desire, your destination or your budget, there are many ways to go on a road trip. It's up to you to choose which one suits you!


The editorial team:

Whether you are an avid traveller or a first-time adventurer, all NomadSister editors are passionate about travel. They share their advice and experiences with the desire to give you wings!

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