Tips for the Ultimate Road Trip
The great Australian road trip is practically a rite of passage for anyone gracing our shores, whether you're a lifelong citizen or are simply passing by on your overseas adventure. Along with picking out your perfect route and mapping out your stop-off points along the way, you'll need to consider the following tips to help your trip go more smoothly.
Plan Your Route
Australia is full of dream road trip routes, including the Pacific Coast, which takes you from Brisbane to Sydney. Other great road trip routes include the Great Ocean Road, stretching from Torquay to Allensford in Victoria, and Snowy Mountain Drive through New South Wales.
Adventure lovers may enjoy The Savannah Way, which links Cairns with Broome via 3,500 kilometres of often unsealed roads through Australia's interior. Head down south to the Fleurieu Peninsula for some of the country's most stunning natural scenery, or try a 4WD adventure from Uluru to Kings Canyon with a few close friends.
No matter where you go, make sure you've mapped out plenty of attractions to stop at along the way. Holiday accommodation should be factored in and booked ahead of time, and a physical map with directions will come in handy for those times your cell phone runs out of service or your GPS system loses battery life.
Consider Your Safety
A comprehensive check of your car is essential before you head off on your trip. Start with your tyres and work your way up, ensuring your tread has a depth of at least 1.5mm all over. Tyre grip diminishes significantly when tread wears down, so this is important to remedy before you head off. You should also inflate your tyres to the recommended pressure, as indicated on the placard inside your driver's door or in your owner's manual, and make sure they are the right type for your trip. For instance, you may want to consider off-road tyres if you're going bushwalking.
Other areas of your vehicle to check include your oil, water and brakes. If you're doing a lot of driving on your trip, consider booking your car in for a service with your mechanic to ensure it's as road safe as possible.
Once your car's been given the all-clear, it's time to fill it with safety equipment such as a well-stocked first aid kit, a torch, blankets, plenty of water, snacks, jumper cables and flares. And as tempting as it can be to completely 'switch off' and leave your mobile at home, it's a good idea to keep a charged phone in your car at all times as an additional safety measure.
You're not limited to certain luggage requirements on your road trip like you are when you're travelling by plane, but depending on the size of your vehicle and how many people partake in your trip, space is often still at a premium.
It's likely you'll want to pick up a souvenir or two on your travels across the country, so make sure you reserve an empty bag and a space in your boot for things you collect along your travels.
As for what you should bring with you - the world is your oyster. Start with the essentials, such as a car charger for your phone, toiletries and medications, snacks and clothes appropriate for the climate you're driving in. Hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes (baby wipes are a great option) can also help you to feel fresh and clean when you're driving long distances without stops for showers.
Avoid structured, hard-shell suitcases, as these will take up valuable space in your vehicle. Instead, look for soft sports bags and even backpacks for easy transportation. Sun protection, emergency documentation, comfortable travel clothes and, of course, a well stocked portable music player are other essentials.
If you're planning on doing outdoor activities on your road trip, backpacks and walking shoes are must-haves. Choose rollable clothes in lightweight fabrics to layer up, keeping you warm in cooler climates and allowing you to strip down if you travel somewhere hotter. Fabrics like merino wool are great, as they travel well, don't trap smells and can keep you both warm and cool, depending on the conditions.
Stretch Your Budget
If you're watching your budget, start by packing as many ready-to-eat snacks and meals as you can. Load up an esky with supplies for your first day, then stop at supermarkets around your travels to refill with sandwich supplies, cold meats, fruit and vegetables. This can not only save you plenty of money, but also help you keep healthy as you won't be as tempted to stop into fast food restaurants.
Planning your holiday activities before you hit the road can also help you save a significant amount of money. Look up local community events in the areas you're travelling to, along with free or inexpensive museums and galleries. For evening entertainment, seek out bars and restaurants that have live musicians performing in-house. Often you won't have to pay any cover charge for this entertainment, meaning you'll get live music and a meal all for the price of dinner.
Many restaurants and attractions have special deals on certain days of the week, so make sure you do your research before you plan your route. This might be two-for-one entry, a free drink with purchase or free entry for kids. Check coupon books and deal websites to really stretch your dollar further.
You can also save money on your petrol bill as you roam around the country. Ensure your tyre pressure is correct to help conserve gas, as well as limit how much your use the air conditioner, as this can drain your petrol quickly. Try and drive at a consistent, smooth speed and slow down gradually instead of braking suddenly. Speeding up and stopping quickly can burn more fuel than gradual speed changes.