In a country this big, the options for a road trip are literally endless, and there's always something amazing to see around the next corner. Here are ten tips for hitting the road safely and successfully, thanks to Qantas Car Insurance.
With overseas travel off the agenda for the foreseeable future, tighter budgets and a new normal to navigate, many of us are re-embracing the concept of the great Aussie road trip as a holiday option.
And road trips have plenty of pluses. You can travel under your own steam, crank up Willie Nelson, and cruise beneath big open skies across this amazing country of ours. But before you hit the road, there are a few steps to work through.
Here are ten top tips for a successful Aussie road trip.
1. Start small
The best way to work out if life on the road is for you is to start small. So rather than planning to conquer the Nullarbor on your first trip, start with a modest weekend away. Plan a drive that’s no more than three or four hours from home. You’ll soon work out how much actual road time you and the family can take, and what works and what doesn’t. Once you’re done with the training wheels, you can start planning those really epic adventures.
2. Make a plan
Many seasoned travellers will tell you they just like to wing it and go where the wind takes them, but post-COVID, that approach has some pitfalls. To start with, more Aussies are hitting the road than ever before, which means regional centres can be busier and finding accommodation or space for your caravan can be tricky. You may also find that attractions are closed or operating on reduced hours, and restaurants are fully booked due to reduced capacity. Sketch out a plan for your trip, prebook your accommodation or caravan parks, and breathe easy knowing that the basics are in place. You can then be a bit spontaneous in between.
3. Set a budget
Road trips are generally a cost-effective way to travel, but you still need to keep an eye on the expenses. Draw up a budget and factor in petrol, servicing, accommodation, food and drinks (which will be considerably more expensive than at home unless you self-cater), entry to attractions, national park passes and incidentals. Once you have a budget in place, stick to it!
Tip: Know which petrol station chains award you with points and fuel discounts, and plan to fill up there where possible.
4. Check your insurance and read the PDS
Speaking of insurance, every road tripper needs it. If you’re looking for a new provider, check out this car insurance info from Qantas. Insurance inclusions that are less relevant at home can suddenly become more relevant on the road, so pull out your PDS and look for things like provision of emergency transport and accommodation in the event of an accident, cover for theft from your vehicle, car hire in the event of a no-fault accident, and collision cover while towing a trailer or caravan.
5. Get a service
Safety is paramount on the road, and that includes making sure that your set of wheels is up for the trip. Book a service and get the tyre pressure checked, the wiper fluid filled, and an inspection done on the spare. Speaking of which, when was the last time you changed a tyre? Possibly never, depending on your age, so get some advice on where it is and how to do it. It does happen!
Finally, ensure you have access to roadside assistance (which in some cases, may be provided by your vehicle manufacturer).
6. Pack light
One of the secrets to any great travel experience is to travel light, and road tripping is no exception. The tendency on a roadie is to fill all the space in the vehicle, just because you can. Make a packing list and only take what’s absolutely necessary. And remember that packing light for a road trip will actually have a visible impact on your bottom line. The more you take, the more you’ll spend on fuel carrying it around!
7. Be cool
One of the essential items of kit that many novice road trippers overlook is a small esky. Being able to keep things cold in the car is a boon, especially when you’re travelling with kids and carrying drinks and fresh fruit. Refreeze your cooler blocks overnight, so they’re good to go in the morning.
8. Stick to your schedule and keep everyone in the loop
It’s an all-too-familiar refrain that rings in the ears of road trippers with families: ‘Are we there yet?’ Remember that plan you made? Well, make sure it doesn’t go out the window as you drive. Stick to it and keep everyone informed of upcoming stops and what they can expect when you get there — an attraction, lunch, ice cream, whatever it may be. It may not stop the AWTYs completely, but it will hopefully keep them to a minimum.
9. Keep your vehicle ship-shape
We’ve all pulled up next to another vehicle at a roadhouse with a plaintive ‘wash me’ scrawled by a wag across the dirt encrusted back window. A road trip puts extra pressure on your vehicle, in terms of dust and dirt and even the rubbish that accumulates inside. Keep your car as clean and tidy as possible. Give the inside a wipe down before everyone hops in in the morning, have a way of dealing with rubbish and recyclables, and ensure the windows are debris free.
10. Driver smarter and cheaper
Believe it or not, the way you drive could cost you more money on a road trip. Speeding and braking hard not only increase your fuel consumption, but also wear down the internal components of your vehicle much faster. Reduce fuel use and the need for repairs by sticking to the speed limit and driving smarter and safer.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of top tips for a successful Aussie road trip? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.