Ten tips for happy road trips

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Are you thinking of packing up and hitting the road? Our 10 hints for happy road trips will help ensure your drive along the freeways and highways remains upbeat and smooth.

1. Make a plan, but make it flexible
The best thing about a road trip is the possibility of exciting things happening spontaneously along the way. So the best type of road trip plan is the one where you plan which town you’ll stay in each night, along with the must-see sites along the road. Don’t plan to drive for any more than eight hours a day, and let the road take care of the rest. You’ll be amazed at what you come across.

2. Be prepared for the great unknown
Because your plan is flexible you will have minimal expectations and you can enter a town with no prior knowledge of what you may find. This can be more exciting than knowing every detail of the trip ahead of you. Wander around town and see where it takes you.

3. Corny local attractions
Australia is home to the many of the ‘world’s biggest’ attractions and, chances are, you wouldn’t make a trip especially to see most of them. But if you’re passing, then why not stretch your legs in front of the world’s longest earthworm or biggest pineapple? It’s theoff-beatsites such as these that can make going off the beaten track a lot more fun.

And while you’re looking for the biggest attractions, keep an eye out for places advertising ‘the best scones in South Australia’ or ‘free chocolate samples this way’. Take a chance and you’ll see some quirky country towns and uncover more of the hidden gems the road has to offer.

4. Use a real paper map and a marker
GPS and Google aps are great for knowing where you’re going, but a paper map and marker makes it extra fun to mark out where you’ve been. You can jot down little notes and observations and keep a journal map which will you can hang on your wall when you return to remind you of the good times you had.

5. Pack light
Packing light can make travelling by car more comfortable. If one of you needs a nap, it’s easy to jump in the back seat and stretch out. You don’t need all the creature comforts of home on a road trip. The most fun comes from roughing it. Packing light will also save you a heap on fuel costs, as a lighter car means longer distances between refills.

6. Put your fuel on your credit card
If you have a credit card with frequent flyer points, then use it for all of your fuel stops. You’ll earn a plethora of points on fuel refills that you can spend later on awards such as cheaper flights or discounted groceries.

7. Bring a CD or make a playlist
It’s nice to have music whilst you drive, but a good tip is to keep your chosen tunes to a minimum of tracks. Ensure they are songs you love and that you can sign along to them (and if you don’t know the words you’ll hear them enough to know them by the end of your trip!). Years later, when you hear one of the songs on your playlist you’ll have fond memories of your road travels.

8. Keep an esky in the boot
A cooler in the boot of your car will come in handy. You can store a sixpack and enjoy a beer at a special site you come across along the way, or you can buy some prawns at the pier and eat them at the place you stay that night. It’s also great for keeping snacks and softdrinks and will help cut down your food costs on the road.

9. Meet the people
It’s advisable to practice making new friends before you leave on your journey because you’ll need to be socially savvy when you’re on the road. Talking to people in the park or standing at the station may get you a few funny looks initially, but you’ll get the hang of it before you know it. You’ll need to seek the sage advice of locals when you’re in the great outdoors, because they know their area best. How else will you find the best bars and restaurants, or the cheeky shortcuts that could save you half a day’s travel?

10. Text updates of your whereabouts, but keep calls to a minimum
Text a friend or family member of your whereabouts each day and where you’ll be that night. That way you there’s a record of where you are in the rare event that something dodgy occurs along the way.

And keeping phone calls to a minimum will keep alive the special feeling of being on the road with your travel buddy. You’ve left home to get away from the everyday, so why bring it along with you?

Some other hints for happy road trips include:

Make up your own road games: playing ‘I spy’ or ‘twenty questions’ can be a great way to while away the time, especially if you’re stuck for conversation

Bring a spare car key: sounds silly but it’s better to be safe than sorry

Take advantage of fuel stops: stretch your legs, take a shower, wash your windscreen, make your own soft serve sundae concoction. Petrol stations across the country may be the only signs of civilisation you encounter along great distances, so embrace them.

Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures: shoot some selfies in front of strange signs, take photos of freeway signs, dead trees, paddocks packed with cows and stunning sunsets. Your random photographs will add to your experience and the memory of your happy road trip.

Do you have any hints for happy road trips? Why not share them with our members?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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6 Comments

Total Comments: 6
  1. 0
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    Hint to add to No 8, don’t drink and drive!

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      Vital suggestion! I wish there was more signs on road sides. They don’t think about the risks or the volunteers who have to face the sad results of accidents and illnesses caused by drinking alcohol while travelling. Even drinking at night you can still be over the limit the next morning.

  2. 0
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    Coolers that can be plugged in to a cigarette lighter are a good idea. A bit more expensive than a standard Esky but free to run and easier to handle.

    • 0
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      Make sure your cooler is firmly anchored in some way so that it can’t be a missile if you have to brake suddenly. Make sure your vehicle battery is well charged as it will draw power from it even if travelling recharges it to a certain extent.

  3. 0
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    Hint number 9 – a must have. Take plenty of water with you. If you break down at least you have water which is better than sweet drinks for hydration. Also if you have an overheating motor and are losing coolant you can wait for your coolant reservoir to cool (very important or you could suffer serious burns) and put water in it. Hopefully it will get you to a repair place to get faulty parts replaced or repaired. You will need to get the system flushed at some point. Yes, I know water is heavy but it may well save your life. Besides, because of louts – young and old – bashing people who stop to help, some are hesitant to stop even if the bonnet is up. One good reason to carry a mobile phone for emergency situations. In a lot of places Telstra has coverage where others don’t. You may need to move to a spot and staying in that exact spot on the ground to lose coverage though. (I learnt that from experience).

  4. 0
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    Regardless of the distance you are travelling,…..always……carry a strong reliable torch in your vehicle. L.E.D type lens are the best as the light shows up better. If you stop and have to leave or accidentally have something that is drawing power you may have trouble restarting your car – especially if you are running a fridge -OR towing a caravan or trailer which have lights on it. We learnt that the hard way too. No fun on a country road at night. Luckily there was a farmhouse with lights on that one of us could walk to and call emergency road service (no mobile phone coverage because of weather conditions). We were fortunate that the gentleman was able to jump start our car as we had battery leads in oue boot.


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