Planning is the key to a successful road trip

The pandemic put an end to the spontaneous road trip.

We waved goodbye in the rear vision mirror to the days when you could load up the car on a Friday and cheerfully drive off on an adventure

Travel restrictions, border controls and pandemic protocols put the handbrake on travel, and while we might be tentatively emerging from a pandemic ‘lifestyle’ it’s a rare traveller who books a holiday with confidence.

For anyone considering the great Australian road trip, the key to success is careful planning and keeping an eye on the news.

Read: The ultimate playlist for iconic road trips

Preparation should begin well beforehand. Start with making a list of websites that provide accurate and reliable information about the latest border controls. As history has shown, this can change at any minute.

You may also want to download a trip planner. These can be a great resource to estimate travel times and find destinations. But leave room for spontaneity, fronting up to a meal at a sweet little pub or an off the track waterfall may just be the circuit breaker you need.

Talking of room, make sure you have enough. If it’s a long trip, or there will be more than two people in the car, it may pay to invest in a roof box.

Read: Launch of dog-friendly campervans creates ‘pawfect’ road trip

They can add 300-600 litres of storage space and have a safety element, as in the event of a crash they reduce the risk of items flying around the car.

Road trips are great, but even the most ardent long-haul enthusiast is going to get bored at some point. Audiobooks, podcasts – bonus points if it’s about an area you are travelling in – or even just a powerhouse playlist, are vital for keep up morale, and you might even learn something.

Book ahead where you can. In these uncertain times, it’s good to have the security of a bed at night. Besides, if something goes wrong on the road, the last thing you want to be doing is bumbling around trying to find accommodation at 11pm.

Read: Road trips to bushfire affected regions

Pack for the conditions. Going to the desert? Fine, but remember it often gets to sub-zero temperatures in the middle of winter. Always pack a pair of bathers. You may be nowhere near the beach, but a hotel pool is a fine thing at the end of a long day on the road.

Check your vehicle. If it’s time for a service, get it done now. If something goes wrong in remote parts of Australia, trying to find parts or even finding a mechanic can ruin your schedule.

And if you are going off the beaten track, pack extra water and petrol and a safety kit that includes a torch, jumper leads and a first aid kit.

All set? Now hit the road.

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Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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