In this episode B and Jack discuss some major tips for long road trips that you are likely to do once in a while as a digital nomad. Initially, they explain what kind of road trip this episode will be giving tips to. After that, they present the main tips, divided into four main categories.
Table of Contents
1.1. Road Trips Within The Digital Nomad Life System [3:05]
- The Digital Nomad Life System is a 6-step system created by us at Nomad Tactics that aims to explain how someone can go from living a non-nomadic normal life to living an optimized digital nomad life.
- The fifth step of the system is called “Nomadic Living”. This is the broadest of all steps in the system. It basically can be understood as all the advice that would be relevant to a digital nomad when he is living in a base. This is of course very much context-sensitive depending on the specific situation of the digital nomad. You will likely want to do road trips once in a while as a digital nomad, thus we place this topic here.
- To have a general overview of the Digital Nomad Life System you should listen to this episode.
1.2. General Considerations About Road Trips [4:06]
- The tips here apply much more to a long and/or challenging road trip that you might intend to do. For an easy weekend road trip in a developed country, a lot of the advice will not be so relevant.
- This is not an exhaustive list of the things you should consider when you are doing a road trip. There are other topics that we will cover in the future such as planning a road trip, budgeting a road trip and working on a road trip.
1.3. Tips for a Challenging and Long Road Trip
Tips on renting a car for a long road trip [4:06]
- Consider car fuel consumption in a road trip: Always make sure to ask the rental company for the car consumption and/or search online for the average car model fuel consumption. This factor alone will be one of the key things that will dictate how much you will spend on your road trip.
- No KMs limit: Make sure there is no KMs driving limit for the car you are renting in order to avoid paying an extra (usually expensive) charge.
- Rent from small car companies: Instead of looking for the big rental company names, you should look for the smaller local companies. Usually, you will get much better prices on those.
- Do not necessarily take the rental company insurance: If you are paying with your credit card (which we suggest you do in this specific instance) then you might be eligible for insurance when you rent a car. Make sure this is the case with your specific credit card. By not paying the rental company insurance you will save a substantial amount of money.
- When renting the car make a video of all the faulty parts: Before starting your road trip it is important to make a video of all the faulty parts (e.g. broken bits, small bumps, etc.) of the car. Do this in front of the person that works in the rental company. By doing so you will avoid situations where the rental company employee claims that you damaged the car and ask you to pay extra.
- AC and the media system: A working AC and a compatible media system (i.e. a media system in which you can plug your phone for GPS and music via Bluetooth or a cable) are two essential things to have working from the get-go.
- Fuel level: Do not forget to return the car to the rental place with the same amount of fuel it had when you first got the car. By doing so you will avoid paying the unfavourable prices of fuel charged by the rental place. A good tip is to take a photo of the fuel tank level when you first get the car.
Tips on the car [6:40]
- Know the basics about mechanics: Before you start your road trip it is always a good idea to have a general understanding of mechanics in order to DIY the solutions to the common problems you might encounter during the road trip.
- Know the car specs: Every car has some sort of specificity regarding certain things. These are, for instance, the tyres pressure, fluid type, gasoline type, oil type, etc. Check those with the car rental employee and/or look at the car’s manual for this information.
- Have a cell phone mount and charging station: These are perhaps the two most important extra gadgets you should bring with you on a road trip. The former will allow you to place your phone in the dashboard in order to look at the GPS and the latter will allow you to charge your phone while driving. GPSs and music consume a lot of battery generally.
Tips on driving in a foreign land for a challenging and long road trip [11:27]
- Check if your country’s driving license is accepted in the country you intend to drive: Different countries accept different sorts of international driving permits based on the different international driving agreements that were signed by countries. You should check if the international driving permit issued by your home country is accepted in the country in which you intend to drive. This Wikipedia page can help.
- Research the speed limits and unique driving laws of the country: It is always a good idea to have a general grasp of the speed limits implemented in a country. At the very least know the “usual” speed limits on highways and urban areas. Also, search if the country has any weird driving laws or customs. These usually have to do with intersections, parking, honking, hazard lights, etc.
- Consider tolls cost in a road trip: Tolls are usually overlooked when you are calculating the overall cost of a road trip. You should consider tolls since, in reality, these can amount to a considerable amount of money in some countries (e.g. France, Japan, etc.)
- Have caffeine pills and sunglasses: These two things are important for you to drive safely. The former to keep you attentive when you feeling tired and the latter to, obviously, help you see better when the sun is too strong.
- Have specific apps that help you out on road trips on your phone: The two main apps we suggest you download are maps.me (offline maps), iOverlander (crowdsourcing maps that allow users to input information of important places and services; like good mechanics or petrol stations).
Tips on facing adverse situations for a challenging and long road trip [16:11]
- Flip the script when police stop you for wrongdoing: When the police stop you for doing something incorrect (e.g. speeding), instead of becoming defensive and denying you did something wrong, you should rather do the opposite. Tell the police that you agree you did something reckless and you apologize. Say that you understand if you get a fine and that the police is doing a great job. By acting this way, in many instances, you will be able to “flip the script” and the police officer will not want to actually punish you in any shape or form because he will be more sympathetic towards you.
- Have more than one copy of your documents: Sometimes while doing a road trip you might be prompted to provide some documents (e.g. driving licence, passport) by some authorities (e.g. police, board control, etc.). If you are driving in some more corrupted countries a good idea is to first only provide copies of these documents, rather than the original ones. This is because these documents are too important and you cannot afford to lose them. Sometimes corrupt authorities might take those documents and say they will only return those for money. Avoid this situation altogether by providing copies and saying the original documents are in the embassy for a visa.
- Have an extra fuel can: If you are travelling through a remote location it is always a good idea to have inside the car an extra full fuel can in case you cannot find a gas station.
- Have silver tape: Silver tape is perhaps the most versatile thing you can use in order to do temporary fixes on your car. Always bring some with you.
- Get emergency contacts (i.e. insurance, ambulance and police): Have the relevant emergency numbers for the country in which you doing the road trip available to you at all times. This app is very handy for that.
- Have gifts to give around: A digital nomad we met on our latest road trip swears by the tip. Basically, he claims that while road tripping you should always have small “gifts” (in his case cigarette packs) to give people if you encounter yourself in a bad situation. This helps to diffuse anger on people and let you get away from trouble.
Mr. B: Hey hello welcome to the Nomad Tactics podcast. here we provide life optimizing tips and systems for digital nomads. I'm your host B. And I'm joined by the co hosts Mr Jack today we gonna talk about some tips for when you are doing a road trip especially the longer and more challenging ones. I will start with a quick summary of the episode. First me and Jack gonna talk about exactly which type of problem we are trying to tackle in this episode. Then we gonna try to place the topic within our broader digital nomad life system. Finally we gonna talk about the different tips for you to use when you're doing a road trip I hope you enjoyed this episode.
Jack: So hello Mr. B.
Mr. B: Hello Jack.
Jack: So the topic of today is road tripping. And I think we are qualified to talk about it because a couple years ago we were doing a really big road trip.
Mr. B: That's right was about two months and we went from London in the UK to Mongolia passing through the Middle East so yeah it was really challenging.
Mr. B: But I think we learned a lot so we're here to share some of the stuff.
Jack: Yeah we also think the some of the digital nomads are into this type of adventure is travelling.
Mr. B: So especially the ones that leaves like in Southeast Asia gas or Central America countries over there are all developing countries the tips are gonna give today gonna make sense because I mean the type of road trips we're talking about here are the more challenging and long ones I mean if you're going to a weekend getaway perhaps a lot of the advice here won't really apply.
Jack: And another thing is this is not a excess list what I'm saying is we're gonna do more episodes on this in the future hopely on like today how do you work on the road and how do you plan for a road trip.
Mr. B: So we selected a few of the aspects related to road trip to cover and is up to load but future ones we might add extra things.
Jack: And of course it all depends on the feedback of you guys whether you guys like this type episodes or not so as usual we should put this topic into our digital nomad life system and for you guys if you don't know what the system is about that is a six step system aims to help normal people I. E. people who are working nine to five the end location dependent jobs into a fully optimized digital nomad life.
Mr. B: So as you said this is a six step system and I think the topic today would very clearly fits the fifth step.
Mr. B: Which is called nomadic living so nomadic living is the broadest of all steps and it involves all the relevant advice we can give to digital nomads when they are living in the certain base.
Mr. B: Of course this whole steps is very much context sensitive so depending on the base i.e. the city you are living for a while. Some things might be relevant other things won't be relevant so you're not going to do a road trip on every single base you go to.
Jack: So now let's move to the main part of the episode which we divide into four categories the first one will be renting the second one this car. The third is driving.
Jack: The last one is adverse situation.
Jack: So we talk about renting because everything most of you guys going to be renting a car during the trip.
Mr. B: So I mean some of you might buy a car that's what we did for our long road trip but I think it's a fair assumption that the majority of digital knowledge will be renting a car.
Jack: I mean we we bought the car because we are going to cross border and renting.
Mr. B: Yeah would being some pause way harder yeah.
Jack: No doubt.
Mr. B: Yeah let's start.
Jack: Yes so the first item here is you have to consider the gas consumption in the road trip.
Mr. B: I mean might sound a little bit like common sense for some of you but on my first road trips that's something I didn't really account for and depending on the car your costs gonna go way up so just something for you to to think about when you're renting a car so you can ask the estimation for what is the car consumption.
Jack: Yeah I guess if you want to budget the whole road trip beforehand gas consumptions is obvious a big one so the second under here is make sure there is no kilometers limit for your car.
Mr. B: So once again when you're renting a car some all the agencies.
Mr. B: They set a kilometer limit and if you you know exceed that you're gonna pay a lot of money so if you're doing a road trip and you want to be spontaneous with it and go to small places on the way I would highly recommend you to look for a rental agency that do not set the kilometer limit.
Jack: So the third item here is you can rent a car from a small company for a cheaper price.
Mr. B: So yeah I mean if you are renting a car for a road trip may be your first fox would be to go to the big names in the renting industry but I found that if you look for the smaller local companies in general you gonna get way better prices of course the availability and the assistance you might get it going to be more limited because they are small company but I find that a the cheaper prices really compensate.
Jack: So the fourth item is here is sometimes you don't need to buy insurance from the company because when you pay with your credit card you will automatically have the insurance.
Mr. B: I would recommend before you do that to check with the credit card that you have but in general I find that if you are using a credit card they provide some sort of renting insurance in a similar fashion if you're like buying a ticket airplane ticket with your credit card you have some sort of insurance so you could save some money there.
Jack: Yeah depends on your credit card company so the fifth item here is just for your security reason as we renting the car make sure to make a video off all the faulty parts.
Mr. B: So what I do usually is let's say went to the renting agency and I'm about to get the car I take out my phone and I go around the car recording the video I'd like to do it in front of the person that is you know assisting me because then the person knows this guy is recording the thing so I can't really scam him later on and make sure to you know look bit by bit in the car to see if there is any scratches or if there is any bumps and you know put that on the video therefore when you're returning the car the person can say that that was your fault.
Jack: Yeah just for the security the reason this is well worth at the time.
Jack: So the sixth item here is make sure the AC is working and the media system is suitable for you.
Mr. B: So two things that you need to make sure when you're renting a car because you don't have any problem with is the A. C. as you said is essential and the media system another saying that already happened to me a couple of times when I rent a car and I find out that either doesn't have Bluetooth and I cannot connect my phone remotely or I cannot connect my phone at all this is a bigger issue with slightly older cars but still it make sense for you to check then and there when you're renting a car and I mean for this older cars that don't have Bluetooth usually you can go around that by having a Jack cable which basically is a cable that allow you to plug your phone into the car directly.
Jack: So the last item here is do not forget to give back the car with the same amount of gas to avoid pay extra.
Mr. B: Here basically there is this general rule among renting agencies that you need to give back the card with the same amount of gas or more otherwise if you just give the car back and there is less gas they gonna charge you extra for the gas and usually the price of the gas provided by them is much more expensive than the one you can get to the streets.
Jack: So the next category here is the car obviously the first item is you have to know the basic about the car mechanics.
Mr. B: So this is a general point and it proved to be very valuable throughout our road trip.
Mr. B: Me and Mister Jack we didn't know very much about car mechanics I mean sure I knew how to change a tire and stuff like that but for slightly more complex problems we didn't have a clue but if you're doing a road trip and you're going to like challenging places is really important for you to at least understand the basics so we highly recommend you to either ask someone that really understand mechanics to teach you the basics or do a course.
Jack: Yeah of course knowing how to change tires or change oil this is extremely essential a for a longer road trip.
Jack: So the next item here we got is you have to know the specs about the car.
Jack: I'd say the tire pressure the fluid type the gasoline type or the oil type.
Mr. B: Yes so again this is kind of related to the first point but each car have some specific details that you got to know and it's really important for you to you know figure out in the car manual or ask the person when you're renting you know I mean sometimes in the car manual it's a little bit hard to find out all these details.
Jack: So the next time here is have a self amounts and charging station.
Mr. B: Yes so I mean these are crucial items for you to have in the car with you perhaps the most crucial ones that you can't forget the cell phone mount is of course to you know put your phone and to use a GPS and the charging station is to charge your phone especially when you're using the GPS because it consumes a lot of that battery.
Jack: Yes of course so the next category we have here is driving and the first item is you have to check if your country's driving license is accepted in country you are driving in.
Mr. B: Yeah that's right and I think that's the kind of thing not many people are aware of so many people do know that they need to you sure what is called an international driving license so you're gonna get your local driving license you're going to go to the relevant institution in your country and issue an international driving license but apart from that you gonna check which type of international driving license your country provides because there are basically two types of international driving license based on different agreements that were set about international driving so you gotta check if the international driving license provided in your country is compatible with driving in the country in which you plane to drive.
Jack: Yes the this type of international driving is kinda complicated.
Mr. B: The information sometimes kind of hard to obtain a license that is.
Jack: Obsolete or it's not updated.
Mr. B: Yet.
Mr. B: But yeah I have a search on Google and and likely you can get this information.
Jack: Hopefully your country tells you about it. so the next item here is you gotta know the speed limits and unique driving laws of the country.
Mr. B: And what do we mean here is I have a rough idea about the general speed limits in each type of road in the country so of course there might be indications in the road but sometimes there are no indications and you got a goal by the rule of thumb that you have research had previously so you're going to know for highway what's your speed limit in the country for a road in the city what's today general speed limit stuff like that as well as unique driving laws so there is kind of a standard adopted worldwide for signs on the roads and stuff like that but still there are some unique driving laws that are either customs that are informal or actual loss especially to do if intersections and stuff like that so it's only gonna take you five minutes to do a quick Google search and search of all the driving laws.
Jack: Yeah like in the lowest cost you some tickets if you don't obey the rules so the next item here is you have to consider the toll costs on the road trip.
Mr. B: Yes so similar to when you're renting you want to consider the fuel consumption of the car in which you're gonna rent you also need to take into account the cost of tolls and you know depending on the country this could add up to be substantial amount of money so in Japan for instance I did a road trip once and if you were to get a bait highway tolls sometimes you would pay up to eighty dollars that's a lot of money to.
Jack: Eighteen dollars.
Mr. B: Yeah.
Jack: That's a man yeah.
Mr. B: Yeah so consider that.
Jack: So next time here is have caffeine pills and sunglasses.
Mr. B: True SO two extra things that I would highly recommend to have for when you're driving. Caffeine pills of course you could substitute that for energy drinks but you know caffeine pills are way more handy to carry with you and you just pop one of those whenever you're feeling really tired because of course attention is really important when you're driving as well as sunglasses it's kind of hard to look at things when the sun is setting.
Jack: Yeah I mean caffeine pills does help us drive through a lot of tired days yeah so in the last item here is we do recommend you to get the some map apps and the the two one where you come in as maps dot me and Ioverlander.
Mr. B: Yes so the standard. Map apps then most people have on their phones is Google maps and don't get me wrong Google maps work really well especially if you are a more developed nations. But it's always good to have these two additional maps apps that Mister Jack just mention so maps on me it's offline map so if for one reason or another you are going through a remote location and you can't get signal if you have these offline map it's really useful you just need to make sure to download the map data beforehand and in the case of Ioverlander it's a map that the public can add information into it so it's really useful for you to find things like mechanics gas stations stuff like that so it's kind of a support app that is useful for you to have in your phone.
Jack: Remember I'll lever.
Mr. B: Save us a couple of times.
Jack: help us find an actual good mechanics.
Mr. B: Yeah.
Jack: In like Uzbekistan.
Mr. B: Yeah because sometimes just using Google maps to find certain types of services it's kind of hard.
Jack: Yeah so going on to the next and final category which is adverse situation.
Jack: So if you're driving in the sometimes underdeveloped country you can face some hairy situation and here we try and give you some tips how you can survive for get away with it.
Jack: So the first item here is when you are caught speeding remember to flip the script.
Mr. B: So okay what do we mean by flipping the script this is a technique actually I used a couple of times throughout our road trip and it actually worked so let's say you're speeding or you did anything wrong and the police saw you and they come talk to you what are gonna do something I did that a friend of mine actually showed to me once is the following so the police car comes.
Mr. B: And you gonna instead of being defensive and say oh I didn't know the rules or there was no sign so it's not my fault instead of being defensive in this way.
Mr. B: You got to do the opposite which is you're not going to deny you gonna say to the police I'm so sorry it's totally my fault you are absolutely right hi you know endangering people by driving this way you're doing a great job please forgive me and you know I totally think I deserve a fine here and by doing that you are you know as Mr Jack said flipping the script you are a knowledge in you are wrong and sometimes the police guard gonna be more sympathetic towards you because you do then enter in the conflict with him and he's going to let you go.
Jack: Yeah we did that in Romania did that yeah road trip was quite funny.
Mr. B: Yeah.
Jack: So the next item here is have more than one copy of the driving license and passport to give policemen in some country.
Mr. B: Yes so I'm in the idea here is that your driving license and your passport are really important arguments you can't really lose does some countries are known to be kind of more corrupted and you should not risk giving your original driving license or passport to the policeman because otherwise he might keep it or ask for bribe to return or stuff like that this happened to a couple of friends of ours and they gave us the tips so you can say all of my passport and my driving license are in the embassy and so I have the copy here sometimes they're fine with it otherwise if they are not okay if they keep insisting perhaps you're gonna need to give the original in order to avoid greater trouble but start with the copy and see how things go.
Jack: So the next item is when you're traveling through a remote location or if you know they aren't many gas station along the way make sure to have one or two extra fuel cans with you.
Mr. B: Yeah that's totally true so as Mr Jack said if you're passing through a remote location where you are unlikely to find many gas stations.
Mr. B: Just have some extra fuel canister is are made out of plastic or metal and they just provide you some extra insurance in case you run out of gas.
Jack: Yeah so the next item here is have silver tape.
Mr. B: So you should definitely bring some silver tape with you because whenever the car has a problem usually silver tape is something you can use for a temporary fix so if there is a part falling apart or you just need to bind something together silver tape does the job and then you can go to mechanic and have the proper fix.
Jack: Yeah I mean the the tapes save us a lot of time.
Jack: So the next item here is get emergency contact let's say the insurance or the ambulance and the police officers.
Mr. B: Yes so every country of course have different dial numbers to get the police and the ambulance and the insurance going to depend again on which insurance you get but it's always good to have all those numbers handy and there is an apple on apps store calls emergency contacts any provide country by country all the emergency numbers.
Jack: since we're talk about adverse situation remember the guy John from Turkey yeah he told us something about cigarettes.
Mr. B: Yeah that's that's the weird thing he used to do so yeah this guy we met in Turkey he told us he always goes around with many packs of cigarettes and whenever he is like having a tough time with someone throughout the road trip in specially corrupted countries he handle cigarette packages and he stays he gets away also a lot of trouble by doing that we are not recommending for people to do that but the guy said it works so why not mention.
Jack: I see.
Jack: So I think this is the end of the episode Mr B do you want to add anything to this.
Mr. B: I just would like to reiterate that we surely going to do new episodes on this topic off road trips and talk about slightly different aspects of it such as planning and working on the road as you said in the beginning.
Jack: So thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy this episode and please make sure to leave a review on your listening platform we are a new podcast and every review helps I'm Jack and thank you for listening.
Mr. B: Thank you very much.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.