So you’ve managed to secure a few days off either side of the midsummer weekend and you’ve stocked up on a couple of bottles of Oeil de Perdrix (for the end of the road, of course) and a few titbits from the traiteur counter at Globus. Where will the slipstream take you? How about heading off on the E25 from Geneva via Zermatt, Genoa, Cadaqués and finally ending up in Jávea for car-made claras at the Cross of Porticholl? Or you could jump on the E20 from Stockholm stopping at Aspa Bruk, Ribersborg beach, KuDamm in Berlin, the Vltava river in Prague and Krems in Austria before parking up in Munich. Wherever you end up there are a few essentials to load into the boot to ensure you stay safe, sound and sated.
Since its launch in the UK in May 2003, the Touareg has successfully bridged the gap between estate and SUV. Small enough to park on Primrose Hill but large enough to take on the Nadelhorn, the Touareg is less about guzzling gas and more about having a blast. VW has just launched a mark two that comes with 4XMOTION permanent four-wheel drive that allows for inclines of up to 45 degrees, a powerful V10 engine, electronic stabilisation, opening rear window and Hydraulic Brake Assist. Now where did we leave the keys?
GPS navigators have had their fair share of derision over the years, but Kiwi industry leader Navman aims to put a stop to all that with the N-series. You can actually navigate via photos – the device allows you to take pictures and upload them to its central database so you can drive to the landmark.
Kümmerly + Frey
Knowing your rechts from your links can be a bit tricky especially when your off-road exploits take you out of GPS range. In which case Kümmerly + Frey 1:301,000 road maps are a blessing. K+F covers the full complement of European countries and updates its international editions regularly; with an endorsement from the Touring Club Schweiz, what more could you ask for?
First aid kit
Life Systems has been protecting explorers and adventurers for over 15 years with its comprehensive range of first aid, thermal protection products, mosquito nets, water purification systems and extreme survival equipment. Add a Coleman lantern for extra security on night excursions. Better safe than sorry, even on the A19 to Hexham.
There is nothing worse than reclining in the evening sun after a long day on the road and realising that you forgot to drop the freeze block into your coolbox at the beginning of the journey. You’re forced to settle for lukewarm, foaming Cruzcampo and watch the sunset with a tepid glass of rosé. No longer will you have to endure boot-warmed stubbies with a Waeco CoolFreeze. These life-saving contraptions take their power from everyday 12/24 volt DC points (car cigarette lighters) and are capable of a deep-freezing -18C. Waeco has carved out a rather attractive fanbase among movie and music luminaries who have them installed on big production film sets. Apparently Ewan McGregor is chilling his Tennent’s in a Waeco CoolFreeze CF-25 as we speak.
Food and drink
Yukio Yamai, a keen mountaineer, founded Snow Peak in 1958 to produce the best outdoor accessories for similarly obsessed enthusiasts. Fifty years on and the company’s range of cutlery, stoves, cook sets and furniture are packed and used by top outdoorsy types everywhere – they’re great-looking, hardwearing and portable.
In-car espresso maker
Connolly made its name as a car interior leather company. These days the company concentrates on its eponymous fashion line, but there are still automotive accessories – take this in-car espresso maker that plugs into the lighter and leather “up yours” gloves. Anyone for macchiatos?
Handmade in Prato, Bamford’s super-soft cashmere blankets are treated with essential oils and aloe vera and then woven on 19th-century looms. Ideal for picnics and tucking up the nippers on the back seat.
Whether you’re stuck in the wilds or just fancy pitching up for the night, there is no better tent than the American MSR Mutha Hubba. Regarded as the very best by the professionals, the Mutha sleeps three and packs neatly away in its dry bag.
Five Monocle road trips
Gothenburg — Stockholm
Gothenburg, Oslo, Bergen, Kristiansand, Hirtshals, Skagen, Copenhagen, Helsingør, Helsingborg, Karlskrona, Oskarshamn, Visby, Nynäshamn, Stockholm
Stop at Magasin du Nord’s foodhall in Copenhagen to stock up on smørrebrød
San Jose — Kelowna
San Jose, Portland, Spokane, Vancouver, Kamloops, Kelowna
Stop at Alex Calderwood’s Ace Hotel in Portland and pop into Stumptown for coffee
Fortaleza — Trancoso
Fortaleza, Natal, João Pessoa, Recife, Maceió, Salvador, Trancoso
Stop at the tiny island of Ilha de Tinharé for its caster-sugar beaches
Melbourne — Brisbane
Melbourne, Wollongong, Sydney, Smoky Cape, Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Brisbane
Replenish your supplies in David Jones food hall at Bondi Junction
Amsterdam — Ajaccio
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Aachen, Luxembourg, Saarbrücken, Geneva, Lyon, Digne-les-Bains, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Nice, Ajaccio
Stop at Da Paolo on rue du Lac in Geneva to refuel with pizza and prosecco