10 top tips for your next road trip

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With travel restrictions easing and state borders starting to open up again for Aussie travellers, road trips have become the next best thing to overseas adventures. Here’s ten top tips to think about before you hit the road for an Aussie adventure.


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The key to a memorable and enjoyable road trip is planning well and covering your bases before you hit the road. Whether you’re escaping for a long weekend or planning a bigger trip, there are some simple things you should check off before hitting the road, which will make life easier, less stressful and most importantly, safer. The well-travelled road warriors and adventure-seekers from Mountain Designs have shared their top ten tips to plan the perfect road trip.

PLAN YOUR ROUTE

Spontaneity is fun, but have a general route planned to avoid boring detours or a hasty decision made in panic. Identify service stations where you can fuel up so you don’t run out of juice halfway through a barren stretch of road. It’s also good to have an idea of the places you’ll stop at for a rest to break up the drive, to stock up on food, water and other necessities, or to stay overnight. Google maps and GPS navigation systems can do all the work for you here, or go offline and use a paper map. 

PICK THE RIGHT ROAD TRIPPING MATE

Your road trip is going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons if you spend your trip arguing or in uncomfortable silence. If you’re travelling with others, make sure you all know each other well, complement each other’s skills and have similar interests so you don’t get stuck at that quaint little thrift shop when you’d rather be exploring backcountry trails. And, if things do get tense, it’s definitely best to deal with any issues while you’re on the road so as to not let things fester and friendships crumble.


Credit Harrison Candlin

Credit Harrison Candlin

BOOK ACCOMMODATION & ACTIVITIES IN ADVANCE

Whether you’re staying at campsites, hotels or motels, book accommodation in advance wherever possible. Likewise, if there is an activity that you want to do while in a particular region, such as snorkelling or a guided tour, book it so you don’t miss out. As regional areas emerge from quiet times during covid restrictions, some businesses are operating with limited hours or only on certain days so you can’t assume everything is open every day.

ORGANISE YOUR ITINERARY

This may sound boring, but an organised itinerary is a great way to fit everything in. Knowing when you’ll be in a particular area, how long each travel stage is expected to take between destinations, and how much time you want to dedicate to rest stops will help you plan your route and make the most of your time on the road.

We’ve published a gazillion stories here at Travel Play Live to provide endless inspiration as you create your own road tripping itinerary. Look through our Inspiration, News or Adventure pages for inspo and don’t forget the past 16 issues are available for FREE download.

WRITE A PACKING LIST

When packing for a road trip it’s important to only bring what you need to avoid an uncomfortably ‘cosy’ ride. Pack small and tight and leave the non-essentials behind. Essential supplies include food, water, plus clothes and shoes to suit your road trip activities and weather conditions. If you’re camping, be sure to bring all the essential camping equipment that you’ll need – tent, sleeping bags, toiletries, cooking equipment etc. For a little bit of camping luxury, pack a two-person hammock for afternoon siestas. And don’t forget your camera!


Credit Harrison Candlin

Credit Harrison Candlin

GET THE CAR SERVICED

It sounds like a no-brainer sure, but often times when we’re driving to and from home all the time we just assume the car is ready to go anywhere. When planning a road trip, it is absolutely critical to ensure your car has been serviced and everything is up-to-date, including basics such as air in the tyres, oil and water. It’s also worth giving the inside a clean, so you’re not stacked up on fast food packaging and dog fur before you even hit the road. Travel worry-free while on the road with the peace of mind that your car is fit for the challenge.

KNOW THE RULES

If you’re planning to take your route interstate, make sure you’ve done your homework on the local road laws. This ensures everyone safety and minimises the chances of you returning home with a massive, unwelcome fine. With the current covid situation that is changing regularly, stay up to date with Tourism Australia’s handy guide to state-wide border status at the Australian covid-19 Travel Planning Tool.

REST UP

Driving tired is stressful and unsafe for both yourself and your passengers. Get a good night’s sleep before you take off on your road trip (ideally a couple of nights in a row), and factor in some regular rest stops along the way, approximately every two hours, to stretch the legs.

Driver Reviver rest stops are dotted along major highways across Australia. They offer free tea and coffee for drivers and are great reminder to stop driving, take a break, walk around a little and get some fresh air before resuming driving again.


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SNACK TIME

Stopping every now and then at a service station or roadhouse for a fast food option is fine (especially if it incorporates a rest stop), but if you want to avoid the inevitable queues and high prices, prepare some snacks for the car. Vitamin-rich, healthy foods will give you plenty of energy to stay alert, and allow you to regularly snack rather than having to load up in one sitting. Fruit and vegetables, nuts, and muesli bars are some good choices. Same goes for coffee and tea. You might want to stop at a secluded coffee shop somewhere but it’s also nice to have your own brew. Bring along a portable coffee maker or water boiler to make tea and find a pretty roadside parking area to unwind and refresh the driver.

GAMES & ENTERTAINMENT

A long drive with some bored or agitated kids (or adults that act like kids for that matter…) is not much fun. Keep the kids entertained on those long drives with a tablet or smartphone. They’re great for streaming movies and/or T.V shows for the kids in the back, plus there plenty of games to choose from. Or you can go retro with ways to fill time – think books, puzzles or even road trip games like I Spy, 6 Degrees of Separation or The Licence Plate Game. Remember those from your childhood road tripping holidays??

About the author: Fiona Harper is a Queensland-based travel writer – follow Fiona at Travel Boating Lifestyle


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