Even if you’re the type to micromanage every pitstop, toilet break and lunch hour, road trips can be a whirlwind of spontaneous changes and unexpected events.
It’s practically science – if you cram enough people into a car and get them motoring away long distances (probably while singing off-key and playing I Spy), something unusual is bound to crop up.
It could be as simple as a mid-afternoon pitstop in a town you didn’t think much of – only to find that they serve the best fish and chips you’ve ever tasted in your life. Or it might be spotting an awesome custom licence plate driving past and deciding to follow suit by ordering your own.
Ahead, road trips that’ll go down in history for turning out better than expected.
The Hungry Travellers
One morning my dad decided he wanted to go for a long drive – not to go anywhere in particular, just to clear his head and enjoy the day. We decided to go get Maccas, and despite the fact that there’s one in Bundaberg, apparently it wasn’t far enough. Dad wanted sights, so he decided to make it a proper full-day drive and go to the Gold Coast. We got there, had a burger each, and went home. It sounds so silly in hindsight but we got to hang out and see the sights, which was better than sitting at home doing nothing all day. – Harry
The Celebrity Spotting
“We got lost on the way up to Byron – there’s a roundabout near Newcastle and we took the wrong exit – we kept driving and ended up in Dungog where we randomly bumped into Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, Lord of the Rings). So the regional NSW detour was made worthwhile by an unexpected celebrity encounter. Turns out he has a property up there and even a street named after him, Hugo Weaving Way.” – Chris
The Rekindling Romance
“I was sitting in my ex’s car, as we drove up the mountains getting to know each other again after not seeing one another for years. The conversation, the road and a car breakdown took us on an all night trip to some of the most beautiful places. That was the best second first date I’ve ever had.” – Millie
The Frozen Fun
“I was travelling with a group across Russia in a hired bus while severely underdressed and underprepared for the extreme wintertime temperatures. It was so cold that if you spit onto the ground it would turn to ice before it hit. The guide could see how miserable everyone was and decided to stop off at Lake Baikal, which was completely frozen over. We spent the next few hours ice skating and having snowball fights, raising everyone’s spirits before getting back in the bus for the rest of the long trip.” – Greg
The Cliff Face
“I asked a little Italian man what was the best and easiest road to get to the Amalfi Coast. Ten minutes into the trip, we realised that it was a 1.5 lane road all the way, with little protection from the 200m+ drop. Then a bus started coming the opposite way. I closed the side mirrors and prayed to every saint I know as he went past with literally centimetres to spare. My hands were clenched on the steering wheel but the stress was absolutely worth the trip – Positano was stunning and we stayed longer as a result.” – Tony
The Right Direction
I used to go on road trips all the time with my grandparents when I was younger, and we’d drive all the way from the Illawarra, NSW, to Ingham, QLD, where the family sugar cane farm is. We made the trip every year from when we were toddlers till we hit high school, and there’d be a riot every time if we didn’t stop in at The Frosty Mango (an ice cream shop) on the last leg of the trip. Those trips will always stick in my memory because from the age of three to the age of six, my brother would confidently say, “I know this road! It’s the road to North Queensland!”… Even if we were in the middle of Victoria. – Steph
The Cow Rescue
“We were driving from Sydney to Byron one year and I was designated driver for the last day. We were stopped for an RBT and they couldn’t believe I hadn’t had any drinks after administering the usual tests, so they ordered me to have a 30 minute nap on the side of the road. We all thought it was ridiculous and were in the car laughing when we saw a few youngsters trying to graffiti and push a cow over. We ended up stopping them and saving the cow’s life. The man who owned the property was so grateful he let us stay the night and we had a mini bonfire until the wee hours of the morning.” – Char
So if you’re trying to nail down every last millisecond of your trip, maybe cut yourself some slack. Plans change, exciting things happen and spontaneity is a beautiful thing.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be prepared – just don’t feel like you’ve gotta account for every last possible situation. It only serves to stress you out when things inevitably change.
Besides, you might as well grab your very own set of plates early from Personalised Plates Queensland, so you can be the one all the other folk in cars stare at in envy as you drive on past.
Plus there’s an element of satisfaction knowing that another car full of people is probably eyeing off your plates as the perfect idea in their game of I Spy.Image: Instagram / @jessicaalba