From the moment free-wheeling Australians sensed light through the cracks of state border restrictions, we’ve been dreaming up travel extravaganzas larger than the Big Banana, Pineapple and Yamba Prawn combined.
After two undeniably long years of thwarted travel plans, our patience is running on empty. However, while undeterrable travel-addicts are crossing fingers and toes and gambling on international flights, many Australians aren’t quite ready to risk booking overseas travel.
Back to Roadtrippin’ Australia
As a result of precious time loss, our silver-nomads and young families alike are reassessing lifelong international travel plans.
Every Australian deserves safe, assured, personalised holidays and happily, all those ‘good things promised to those who wait’ are finally being presented on a large, delectable platter. It’s time to take back the streets, the highways and country roads of Australia, to rule the cities and the coastline, the outback and the tropics. It’s time for some holiday DIY (drive it yourself)!
Set off with confidence
Yes, the great Aussie road trip is back in full throttle! However, before you drive off into the sunset, we suggest settling your engines for some sage advice.
Now is not the time for total spontaneity, or leaving things to chance, especially when carrying precious cargo – that includes you, your loved ones (furry or otherwise) and even the Christmas Pav.
Whether you’re heading home for the holidays, embarking on a driving adventure across our dusty plains, honed-in on seven glorious days around Tasmania, cruising even a small portion of our stunning coastline or meandering your four-wheel-drive deep into rainforest tranquillity, the one thing you absolutely cannot do without is solid planning. The very act of driving across our enormous, rugged country, where towns can be situated days apart, takes a certain level of skill, preparedness and awareness.
We don’t wish to deter you, far from it – we want to make sure you get away without a hitch! So, in the essence of mateship and spirit of holidays past, present and future we are wrapt to present you with our ‘we’ve got your back’ travel pack of expert tips. Just follow the checklist below to avoid common road-trip pitfalls and further disappointment. Let this summer holiday be ruled equally by heart and common sense.
Your Australian road tripping safety checklist
1. Is your car up to the challenge?
A quick check up at your local service centre might seem like ‘just another expense’, especially in holiday season, but in the long run it could save you truckloads of cash and most importantly keep you safe. Be prepared for items like brake pads, tyres, and anything else that wears, to possibly need replacing before you take off; of course, if you’ve been thinking about buying a new car now might provide the perfect opportunity.
If the festive season isn’t the time to gift and receive thousands of safe, ergonomically sound, air-conditioned kilometres of road travel – well when the heck is? Be warned however, with vehicle supply delays, dealers have the upper hand. The best way to save is by securing your most competitive interest rate by seeking car loan pre-approval.
2. Scouting your route
No matter how long you’re planning to be away there’s plenty to be considered before checking your rear-view mirrors and taking off. Loosely planning your entire route, perhaps detailing the first couple of legs, will save time and frustration, as well as ensure your focus remains on the road ahead. Planning comfort breaks and leg stretches with something for the kids to do is critical when you have the entire brood on board.
Use digital maps such as Google to plot out essential points on route – from coffee and toilet stops to fuel and police stations (particularly if travelling solo), to tollways and places of interest you’ll likely miss if you stick to the main drag.
From time to time, you may find yourself out of mobile phone reception range, so before you leave, download whatever information you need, including maps, onto your device. Don’t scrimp on your playlists, a bit of chill or trance might be perfect for short scenic drives but hours into extended trips and you’re likely to need something a little more upbeat.
3. Consider your cargo
Sure, there’s the obvious packing to be done (e.g. clothes, toiletries and essential medications) and begging for favours (i.e. neighbours to feed the cat, water the plants, collect the mail etc) – but there are fewer things more crucial than securing extra oil, radiator fluid and more water than you think you’ll need – especially if driving on remote stretches without access to roadside assistance.
The essential list of items to pack for a remote Aussie road trip include a 2-way radio, survival kit and other specialised equipment may be necessary, so be sure to do your research when navigating unfamiliar outback destinations. Check for last minute items like mints or ginger sweets for tummies prone to motion sickness, wet wipes, hand sanitiser, small garbage bags, pet bowls and eucalyptus oil to mask funky odours. Don’t forget the Eski, back support pillow and a first aid kit if not already on board… ah, you’ve got this. Lastly, get a good night’s sleep.
4. Ready, set, go.
Leave early to avoid traffic and stay refreshed longer. Keep hydrated (also caffeinated, if that’s your thing). Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination; in peak travel periods a breakdown, even if it’s someone else’s, can add hours to your journey and there’s never a good reason to rush on the road – holiday calling or not. If travelling with friends arrange a kitty for petrol, tolls, snacks, cleaning etc. If kids are along for the ride, and miraculously don’t have their heads glued to an electronic device, pre-plan some games or a singalong (I mean who doesn’t love a few thousand rounds of eye-spy with my little eye, or never-ending chorus of Kookaburra sits in the old gumtree), or other in-car activities to keep them occupied and your head from spinning off on the longest expanses.
5. Stay on track
Break up the drive with regular stops at scenic lookouts or interesting towns. Gulp plenty of fresh sea or country air – it’s free and a great way to refresh and reset. Alternatively, spending some money in a regional bakery or cafe can go a long way to helping the locals and spreading holiday cheer – it’s also good for the soul. If you’re feeling sleepy or unwell make sure you pull over for a break or nap, swap with a co-driver or call it a night and stay at the nearest accommodation.
6. Rocking a rental
If time is of the essence? Hiring a car to suit your holiday budget, comfort and personal style requirements might be the answer, with the added bonus you are adding kms to the odometer of a car that is not yours. The booking process is simple, and you drive away safe in the knowledge that all reputable companies run their fleet through constant safety assessments and upgrades. Purchase comprehensive insurance (read the fine print) and you’ll avoid additional costs in the case of an accident. If your rental is out of action, it will be swiftly replaced for continuing your trip. It’s worth shopping around as prices do vary and may increase with demand. Book as soon as you’ve circled your travel dates, otherwise those already on track with their holiday-road-trip-to-freedom may well have scarfed the lot.
7. Additional extras
You might be an excellent driver and know your automobile inside and out, but road conditions and rules vary from state to state so it’s worth educating yourself for possible anomalies (think Victoria’s infamous hook turns or giving way to horses in Queensland). When your vehicle is heavily laden, you’ll also need to be mindful of issues such as your headlights shining higher, or your newly low-hanging chassis being damaged on uneven surfaces. Know your tow limits, height and width restrictions and if going off-road ensure your wheels (including spares) and suspension are up to the task. Finally, remember, once you’re out there, to relax, take in the beauty of your surroundings, let the wind blow through your hair – and enjoy your well-earned break, assured everything is in check. You’re welcome. Happy holidays.