Road trips… I don’t know about you but whenever I visit a new country I get an irresistible urge to step into a car and explore the countryside. There’s something enticing about driving until you run out of gasoline – or music – not knowing what or who you may encounter along the way. The road sets you free. Finland was no exception.
Talking about roads inevitable bring us to cars. Their sole purpose may be getting you (safely) from point A to B, yet cars mean so much more. Like your first date or first kiss, you never forget your first car.
When traveling the globe, bringing along your trusted set of wheels might be a bit difficult. Luckily, you can always hire a temporary vehicle…
Back in 2003 my budget didn’t allow for much luxury 😀 Just kidding!
Renting some wheels
Back home, choosing your next vehicle always counts as a big event. Regardless of budget, most of us spend quite some time choosing a vehicle that suits our needs, personal taste and – for some at least – our ecological principles.
On holiday that set of requirements is likely to change. Simply put: there are two ways to go about renting a car for a roadtrip: you downgrade or upgrade.
Cars: Upgrade or downgrade?
Chances are you just want to visit some interesting sights near to where you are staying. Most of you may choose to put budget first and downgrade. So if you own a Ford Fiesta, surely you’ll survive spending one day in a Chevrolet Matiz. Even if you have a comfortable Audi break at home, driving an Astra coupé cannot be that bad, right?
That being said, some of you may prefer upgrading for a change. There’s nothing wrong with indulging yourself in a bit of luxury you cannot afford at home. (or are not allowed to… 😉 In fact, the car itself can make a roadtrip extraordinary! So why not go all the way and own the road for a few days?
Personally, I would definitely consider upgrading for certain road trips. Cruising Route 66 in a Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro is something every guy secretly wants to do at some point. Admit it! Go ahead, blame Top Gear! I do too 🙂
However, Finland is not exactly a country I associate with muscle cars, so I decided to keep it modest.
On a sidenote, to all Top Gear enthusiasts… the guys are back! Grand Tour is out! You can watch it on Amazon Prime! The first thirty days (= four episodes) are free.
Allright… strictly speaking this one was not a rental… but who can resist, right?
I love apps.
Booking cars through an app is about as easy as, well, playing music through an app. Not only does it allow you to compare cars and prices from companies at one glance, you can get much better deals than at the rental station.
For years I went for the absolute cheapest car. I mean the really tiny ones. Lately I go for the cheapest but one. In my experience the added 5-10 euros a day results in a noticeably increase of space and comfort. That’s not the only advantage! When you hire a car there’s always a chance you get a free upgrade, depending on what cars they have in the garage.
That’s exactly what happened to me in Finland: I booked a Ford Fiesta and got to drive a brand new Opel Astra. Snow chains, heated seating and even a heated steering were all included. Yes, I got all that for only 8 euros per day more than the cheapest one.
Music is not optional
Everyone around me can testify: music to me is about as important as oxygen.
Art is how we decorate space, music is how we decorate time.
Whether I’m on the train writing this article, enjoying a glass of wine over dinner or running 5 kilometers… There’s a playlist for every occasion.
To me road trips and music are inseparable. Between 2005 and 2014 practically all my trips started with me setting the GPS to the nearest supermarket to fetch an audio cable.
Before say 2005 you had nothing to worry about: just bring your favorite cassettes or compact discs and you were ready to go. Every car stereo on the market was compatible.
Today, things are very different. Before hiring a car you need to verify the audio system: does it have a USB-interface, bluetooth capability or – at the very least – analog aux input?
Renting a car without the possibility to hook up my iPhone (or iPod classic) is about as useless as visiting a restaurant that has no chairs. They food may be excellent but it’s not quite the relaxing experience you had in mind.
I was relieved to see that the Astra had a decent media interface called CarPlay. I started Spotify and kicked off the playlist I had downloaded for this moment, turned on my heated seating and off we went…
The scenery of Finland’s vast and beautiful lakeland made for an unforgettable drive. Lakes stretched out on both sides of the road like silent seas. Lakes were replaced by seemingly endless pine forests with trees stretching up to 25 meters or more. Beautiful!
This is living. Why are we cooped up at home so much of our time?
All this scenery is there for you to enjoy, you only live once! Go out! Step into the car and enjoy the ride!
My playlist was set to shuffle and the next song made me smile. I always sneak in a few guilty pleasures and in this case Bomfunk MC’s blasted through my speakers.
Hey, in my defense: they are authentic Finnish artists, right?
What about you? Do you like taking road trips? Do you like upgrading or downgrading in comparison to your car at home? Any anecdotes you would like to share with us?