“La Carretera de la Vida”
Let me take you back to just before the road trip. In fact, let me take you back to the day before the road trip. Here is the story behind our 5-day road trip to Northern Spain.
It’s Saturday afternoon, 11:45A.M. We must have our bags packed, tickets at the ready and the car parked outside filled with petrol, right? Wrong.
Instead, we’re planning the very basis of a road trip. A road trip for tomorrow.
“Shall we just go? We start back work next week and all we’ll do is work and stay in.”
So, we went.
Step One: Get a car
It’s funny how extensive the trip planning can be when you have so much time on your hands. When it’s tomorrow, it’s a completely different story.
We got on to the Enterprise website, we needed a car. We weren’t going to get very far on the road trip without one. We managed to find a great deal on a car for around 200€ for the week, plus we’d have to leave a 150€ deposit. Not bad!
Enterprise closes at 14:00, and of course, it’s located all the way in Benidorm. At this point, Alex is running to get the bus so that we don’t miss out altogether.
Step Two: Accommodation
So, we’ll have a car. But, it’s all well and good getting there if we haven’t got anywhere to stay.
On booking.com they have a handy feature for filtering down to exactly what you need.
Parking? Yes. Accepts pets? Essential. Order? Low-to-High!
I’m always sceptical when hotels state they accept pets. Do they accept all pets or just small pets? Do they accept dogs or do they only mean service dogs? Especially in Spain, many places accept dogs under 10kg, but not necessarily any others.
I made sure I rang each place before booking to find out what charge it would be and if they even accepted our dog, at all.
Some places didn’t accept over 10kg dogs. Rio is 11kg I mean, come on! Other places charged more than others, which altered which one was the cheapest in each city. On the whole, we paid around 10€ per night for our dog.
Step Three: Documentation
At this point, it’s 13:30 and I get a phone call from Alex.
“I’ve left my driving license at home…”
Let me just paint the picture, Enterprise is 40 minutes away on the bus which only comes twice an hour. Enterprise closes at 14:00 on a Saturday. No re-opening. That’s it.
Of course, without a driving license, nobody is passing their rental car over.
Picture me calling Radio Taxi for a taxi right now. Whilst trying to get ready to be downstairs for when the taxi arrives. I don’t know if you’ve ever called a Taxi in Benidorm before, but they’re quick. Or they just don’t come, at all.
Luckily, we made it to Enterprise before they closed and managed to get a nice, comfortable Citroen C3, which we later found out had the most annoying music system on it. Now, what car these days doesn’t have Bluetooth music connection without downloading their App first?
We made sure we had all of the documentation together, including booking confirmations for hotels on the phone, car paperwork, driving license, ID and dog passport and proof of vaccinations.
Step Four: Shop for snacks
I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a fairly long road trip before, but on our first one a few years ago, we were stocked up with snacks. Crisps, chocolate, sweets, you name it we had it.
This year, we packed crisps, fruit and drink. Only to later leave the crisps at home.
Instead, we ended up stopping at Mercadona’s in the cities and getting what we wanted for that day. It meant a lot less food waste.
Step Four: Pack your bags
One of the best parts about travelling by car as opposed to a bus or plane is having no restrictions on bags.
We like to pack light, but it definitely made a change to have our own bags rather than Alex lumping his backpack around with our stuff in.
You’ve probably noticed that I wore the same top at least 3 times and definitely wore every outfit more than once. Packing light is the best, plus you don’t waste time in the morning wondering what to wear because you’ve not got a lot to choose from!
Step Five: Establish a leaving time and set an alarm
We had agreed on a set time to get going. 5:30a.m. Early enough that we’d be in Barcelona before midday and miss some traffic, but not too early so Alex could have a full night sleep before the drive.
Except all night, neither of us slept.
“Are you asleep? No.”
The last I remember looking at my phone, it was 4:00a.m and Alex was now attempting to sleep on the balcony. Okay, great we’re going to have a full day in Barcelona on 90 minutes sleep and Alex has to get us there.
At some point, I must have fallen asleep. It wasn’t until I woke up at 8:45a.m that we realised that we had missed the alarm.
Step Six: Get the music playlist sorted
Does it drive anybody else crazy that radio stations play the same songs on loop?
Well, Spanish radio is no exception. In fact, I think it’s worse.
When we found out that the Citroen C3 music system is borderline hopeless, it meant the radio had to go on. I know all the words to three songs. They were the only three that were played. Every so often, they’d throw an old throwback song or relatively new song in the mix, but it was never for long before heading back to the same three.
The Citroen C3 music system was so temperamental. We also didn’t know you needed to download their App to be able to use the Bluetooth music system. I could only charge my phone into the USB slot which meant the only time the iPod could use the “dips in then dips out again” music system was when my phone didn’t need charging.
You might have already seen the vlog, so you’ll know this already, but I took a lot of videos and photos. Inbetween that, I was playing my games. Now, unless I wanted to go to the new city and have no battery, not going to happen, the phone being charged had to take priority!
If we’d have known that the Citroen needed an App, we’d have downloaded it at home on WiFi, but there was no way I was downloading on the road. Data doesn’t grow on trees!
Step Seven: Plan what you want to see
We knew we were on a tight schedule. We wanted to make sure that we had plenty of rest stops for our dog so he could go and relieve himself and keep comfortable.
Instead of stopping at a service station, that can look a little sketchy in some places, we decided to swap motorway stops for city or village stops. Some places, like Martinet, were completely unplanned. We just drove through, liked it and stopped. Other places, like Pamplona, we headed for.
This meant, there wasn’t time to wander through the streets and find what we wanted to see. We had to know in advance.
The easiest place to plan what we wanted to see was whilst we were already on the road. You have a lot of spare times on your hands anyway and it keeps everything fresh in your mind.
I created a Pinterest board of different spots we’d like to see and made sure that we parked relatively close to them. It meant, we were able to see the main photo spots in the cities.
If you haven’t already, you can watch our road trip through Northern Spain below:
Have you ever been on a road trip? Where did you go?