Are you planning a road trip?

Every now and then we all get itchy feet and feel the need to escape the daily grind, but perhaps don’t want the expense and or hassle of organising a major holiday to a far off destination. Why not just keep it simple and do a good old fashioned road trip? It can be a satisfying and stimulating adventure with lots of variety and experiences along the way and with a little bit of smart planning it can be a simple and economical way to take some time out.

Good planning is essential

The difference between a fun-filled, stress-free trip and a frustrating, tiring one is all in the planning. Driving a long distance without a good plan is a recipe for a disastrous holiday. Get together with your partner or whoever you are travelling with and get some concrete ideas of:

  • The general area and destinations you want to include
  • How far you want to travel each day
  • What attractions and experiences you want to sample along the way 
  • Key places where you may want to stop over a bit longer 
  • Where you will stay

The Internet is a great place to research potential routes and to work out itineraries and there are some fabulous sites that can give you inspiration and let you plan for the factors listed above. The Drive Australia site is a great example. It provides a host of suggested route maps Australia-wide and it even breaks each route down to daily chunks, accommodation options and things to see and do along the way, so you can plan your adventure as much as possible in advance. It even has a handy ‘inspirations’ tool that lets you filter possible journeys that suit the profile of the people travelling, the length of time you have available and the types of attractions you are interested in.

The key to good trip planning is to focus on quality, not quantity. It’s not how far you drive or how quickly you can get to your destination that matters; it’s the variety and quality of experiences along the way. The major highways will often bypass some interesting country towns or some scenic wonders, so don’t let the road determine your itinerary; read and research the things that will fill your journey with richer encounters.

Organise your accommodation

The last thing you want to be doing at the end of each day of the trip is to be hunting around for somewhere to stay the night. Take the stress out by booking your accommodation ahead. If you have a planned itinerary then you know what towns you will be in each night and it’s easy to research the options online.

The type of accommodation depends on your preferences. You may want to keep as close to nature as possible and opt for camping grounds or caravan parks. If you are more concerned about getting a good night’s rest, then maybe it is better to book hotels, motels or bed & breakfast style accommodation.

Worry-free driving

Make sure you don’t neglect the central hub of your roadtrip – your vehicle. It’s your transport and your ‘daytime accommodation’ so it needs to be in tip top shape for the journey. Safety and reliability are critical to a worry-free trip, so have your vehicle serviced before you leave to make sure things like battery, oil, tyres and belts are all in good order.

Then there are the little things that can make your time on the road more comfortable, such as windshield cleaner fluid, wipers and even just a good clean inside and out. Pack some emergency gear too, (just in case), including jumper leads, torch, a basic first aid kit.....and a spare set of car keys.

Feeding the mind and body in transit

When it comes to food, variety is the key word. It’s nice to stop at the occasional café, restaurant or pub along the way, but you may end up eating too heavily if that makes up your whole diet, not to mention the extra cost involved. Mix up your meal options by taking a cooler bag with you and stock it up with some fruit, healthy snacks (such as trail mix), juice, bread and sandwich fillings. This gives you the flexibility to stop by a river, beach or scenic spot for lunch, rather than driving around searching for take-aways. A thermos can be refilled each morning at your accommodation and instant coffee and teabags will complete the picture.

To keep the mind stimulated on the longer stretches of road make sure you pack your favourite music and even some audio books for a change of pace. Keep comfortable too by packing some moist towlettes, some bags for rubbish and maybe a pillow and blanket will be handy if you ever need to pull over at a quiet grassy spot to catch a quick refreshing nap.

A final tip

Some of the best experiences on the road will be the people you meet and not just the places you visit. Don’t be afraid to ask the locals for tips on the best places to dine and the more offbeat attractions to visit. You may be pleasantly surprised by the friendships you may strike up and the characters that will make your journey a more memorable one.