The road trip holiday is a favourite for many Australians. For many years, families would brave the summer heat and set off on an adventure in their non-air conditioned cars and come back full of stories and memories.
Now days, people tend to do this in a little more comfort, but you still have the option between roughing it off-road, or sticking to the major highways.
Taking a road trip can be the best way to see Australia as it gives you the opportunity to witness the changing landscapes, spot some wildlife, and stop off and chat to many locals along the way.
It also allows you to be a bit more flexible and take some detours along the way. If you’re travelling with young kids, not only can the flexibility of numerous stops be helpful, but it can be an economical way to get the whole family away together.
Being prepared for your road trip is very important however. Australia is a big place, and the roads can be long so it’s crucial to ensure your car is in good shape to take the distance, and you have enough petrol and supplies between stations.
Get your car serviced
Your first step is to make sure the vehicle you’re travelling in is in the best shape it can be! You’ll be spending a long time on the road and relying solely on your vehicle to complete your itinerary comfortably and safely.
Tell your mechanic that you plan on taking the car on a road trip, to ensure they test the tread of your tyres, that there are no parts that look like they might need replacing before you reach the distance you’re planning on travelling, and that your car lights, washers and indicators are all working.
Don’t forget to also check your spare tyre, and repair it to working order if needed. Having a mechanically sound car will provide you with peace of mind before you’ve even set off so you can get to relaxing straight away.
Prepare for emergencies
No-one plans for things to go wrong on their road trip, but we all know accidents can happen. So best to be prepared for these. As already mentioned, check your spare tyre and jack to make sure you can at least deal with a flat tyre. It’s also handy to have some basic supplies, such as some engine oil and water in case they need a top up, and some simple equipment such as a petrol can and jumper cables.
Whether you’re on main roads or heading into the outback, knowing how to get in touch with emergency services or find your nearest hospital would be useful. Carrying your own first aid kit in your car is essential. If you’re in remote areas, it may be worth investing in a UHF CB Radio. This allows you to communicate with people around you and covers areas where your mobile may not work. Speaking of which, having a paper map with you will cover you in case your mobile or sat nav is out of service!
Last but not least, check your roadside assistance policy so you’re clear on what you’re covered for, and keep the papers handy so you know how to seek assistance should you need it.
Organise your car
You will be spending a lot of time inside the car, so you might as well organise your things to make it easy and workable for a stress free holiday! Maximise the space so you and your passengers are comfortable by getting yourself some storage solutions to help keep your car interior clutter free. Look for things like extra seat pockets on the back or under seats where you could store snacks, maps, cleaning wipes, tissues and antibacterial hand wash.
You could use buckets and storage containers in your boot to keep your belongings organised and secure. Hooks in the boot could also allow you to hang bags to store things, giving you extra room underneath.
You might also want to have one bin with a lid for throwing away scraps – you don’t want old food or drinks melting in the Australian sun in your car! You could also look at investing in an esky or small fridge, to keep your drinks nice and cool and keep you hydrated.
Keep your glove box for any valuable items so they are out of sight – or better yet, take them with you if you’re leaving your car for a longer period of time to be extra safe.
Ride in comfort
Once your car is organised and the space maximised, throw in some luxury for those long travel periods. As long as your driver is happy for you to have a snooze, use a travel pillow to help secure your head and save you from neck ache!
If your seat covers are a little worse for wear, you might want to look at covering your seats – especially for the summer months when you will want a nice breathable and comfortable fabric against your skin.
It may be a little costly, but tinting your windows will make a huge difference to the temperature and comfort level. The Australian sun is strong, and will penetrate through the glass and burn your skin if you’re not careful! If you don’t have the means to get the windows tinted, pick up some sun shades that attach to the windows, which are handy anyway, for when the sun comes in from different directions.
Listening to some great tunes can really enhance your road trip, so get your mobile, portable player or CDs ready! If you have kids in the back seat, you can purchase tablet holders for the back so they can watch their favourite shows. But remember, no-one is ever too old for an old fashioned game of I-spy!
Check your route
When it comes closer to your departure date, it would be worth checking official tourism sites, and local news and events sites to see what is happening in the towns you are visiting at the time of your visit. This will allow you to be aware of any road closures or detours so you can plan in some extra time if you need to.
. Check the latest weather
Is your car prepared for any adverse weather? It may be summer, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t be faced with cyclones and flooding, which may bring about muddy conditions, road closures and detours.
4WD cars should be able to handle such conditions, but if you’re in the family hatch, just remember that you may have to change your route last minute if faced with treacherous detours onto dirt roads that might put your safety in danger.
Bushfires are unfortunately a common occurrence in summer, so listen out for official warnings and don’t enter an area which is under threat.