Pack your bags and prepare yourself for a must-have experience – a good old fashion Aussie road trip!
There is something very special about doing the great Aussie road trip. Apart from being one of the few extended travel options available to us during a pandemic, a road trip is something of a right of passage for all Australians. With so many national parks and sites with World Heritages status and more than a thousand ecosystem, Australia is the kind of place that can offer you beauty at every corner and a road trip allows you the flexibility to explore each and every one of them.
In order to have a successful road trip, you really can’t just drop everything, hop into the car and start driving. You need to have a plan. To ensure everything goes smoothly, just follow our tips for planning a perfect Aussie road trip.
Prepare the Vehicle
While conquering the Australian Outback by road, you will likely cross rainforests, deserts, coastal regions, savannas and all grades of highways and backroads. That’s what makes a road trip such a unique travel experience. The last thing you want is for your vehicle to break down. Before you head out on the adventure of a lifetime, you will want to ensure your vehicle is up for the challenge.
The best way to start is to thoroughly clean the vehicle and get rid of all the excess stuff you have been hoarding throughout the years. After a detailed cleanup, you should focus on more important tasks like having the car serviced. You might want to do some of this yourself such as changing your air filter, topping up the oil, checking your lights are working and ensuring your spare tire is in good, usable condition. A good idea would be to pack a fire extinguisher and to bring an extra set of car keys as well. Hopefully, you won’t need either but just in case.
You might want to check your vehicle insurance and think about getting full roadside assistance cover for the trip. It’s not a big cost but it can save you a lot of money if something goes wrong.
If you are towing a caravan, once it’s packed, we highly recommend you check your weight to make sure you haven’t exceeded your vehicle’s towing capacity. You can do it yourself at a public weighbridge or use one of the many mobile weigh-checking services in your state.
Ensure Your Home is Secure
You will not enjoy your holiday if you’re constantly worried about your home and its contents. Before you leave, ensure your property is safe. An empty house is a perfect target for thieves and the longer you are away, the more vulnerable it can become. If you’re going to be away for more than a couple of weeks, Queensland Police advises that you consider having someone house sit for you. If you don’t have a family member or friend who can do it, check out Aussie House Sitters to see if one of their registered members is available in your area.
Another thing you can do to keep your valuable belongings safe while you are away is to store them away from your home at a facility such as a storage unit. If you are leaving another vehicle behind, make sure to secure it as well and also consider storing the vehicle at a secure self-storage facility.
Plan Your Route
Before you go, decide on the route that you want to take. Some routes will take you through the big cities which you may want to avoid if you’re towing a large caravan, whereas others may take you through the rough and remote areas of the country, in which case, you may need to be prepared to be a little more self-sufficient. Have a look at the places you want to see and the accommodation options you need and plan your waypoints accordingly.
We suggest you use the help of one of the many free online route planners. They will help to keep you on track and also provide you with other useful information such as live traffic conditions, construction zones, motor vehicle crashes, and more, all in real-time. You can use Google maps route planner, Bing Maps or Waze, just to name a few.
Decide on Preferred Activities
There are so many things that you can see and do around Australia. Depending on the route, time, and type of trip, it’s a good idea to decide on the activities you’d like to do before you head off.
Many states and territories have their own state planning calendars that you can check to see when and where certain events are on. Not only can you use the information to plan to see the events you know about but you might also stumble across another event that piques your interest, in which case, you should definitely put it in your plan.
If you’re travelling with kids, obviously it’s important to ensure you plan activities to keep them entertained but remember to schedule in some adult time as well.
Set your Budget
Unless you have unlimited funds, you will need to budget for the trip. Food, fuel, accommodation, and tourist attractions all cost money. For a great trip, you need to carefully plan your budget. The last thing you want is to run out of money just when you are beginning to enjoy yourselves. Set some money aside for the basic things you will need plus a little extra for unforeseen emergencies or breakdowns.
If you start to find the cost of the road trip is getting beyond what your budget can sustain, there are many ways to lower the cost. You can look for low-cost accommodation options such as free camps or low frills caravan parks, do self-guided tours, or look at touring outside the main tourist seasons. If you travel during the month before or after a season, you can still have a great holiday. You might just have to endure some slightly worse weather on occasions. To get the most value out of your travel budget, you should definitely do some research before you set off.
Use Road Trip Planner Apps
If you have a smartphone, then you might want to try installing a road trip travel app. There are many apps that help to find the best places as well as amenities throughout Australia, and all you have to do is add your route and destination.
For example, the Official Travellers Autobarn app is specially designed to make your road trip the best that it can be. The app will help you find your nearest watering hole as well as the closest laundromat or your nearest ATM. Roadtrippers Trip Planner will help you discover local diners, quirky roadside attractions, and more.
Depending on the time of year you set off, you may find it difficult to just pull up to a stop and get accommodation without booking ahead. This problem is only set to get worse with more Aussies road tripping these days. If you want to stay at a caravan park in a popular tourist area, make sure to book in advance.
As much as you may want to ‘go with the flow’, planning ahead can save you time and any potential hassles of finding yourself without a safe and comfortable place to stay.
The Bottom Line
A fun trip is a planned trip. There’s a lot to think about when planning a getaway and we hope our tips will help you to plan an unforgettable Aussie adventure. Australia has a lot of beauty and nature to be enjoyed, so you should give yourself every opportunity to make the most of it.
Words by Kirsty Morbidelli, U-Store-It
Further reading: Victorian COVID outbreak and the Big Red Bash