Six tips for road trips

Road trips are a great way to see some of the finest parts of Australia, but you need to be prepared.

Plan your stops

If you’re sticking to major roads, plan to stop to take a break and stretch your legs every two hours – this is also a great excuse to explore towns, museums and natural landmarks on the way. Visitor Information Centres are a great source of local knowledge to make the most of your pit-stop in town.

If you’re travelling in the country or outback where fuel stations are few and far between, you’ll need to plan your stops carefully to ensure you have enough fuel, water and food to make it to your next destination. Download the Fuel Map app for a crowd-sourced database of petrol stations across Australia and, if you’re travelling in Queensland, find the cheapest petrol with the RACQ’s Fair Fuel app.

Check your vehicle

As the maxim goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’, so have the mechanical components of your car such as brakes, wheels, engine and electrics checked before you head off on your road trip.

RACQ Members can save $50 on mechanical checks through RACQ Vehicle Inspections.

Division of labour

Some people love driving but travelling to unfamiliar locations can make other drivers anxious (me). Some people are good at navigating, while others can’t read a map to save their life (also me). I am, however, queen of road trip snacks, an avid pit-stop researcher and can curate a mean Spotify playlist. Work out what each of your travelling companions does well and divide up tasks accordingly so your trip is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Clean your car before and during your trip

You’ve probably got a few receipts and plastic water bottles floating around the back seat of your car, but you may find after a few days on the road those harmless receipts and water bottles are joined by a mountain of fast-food wrappers, tourist brochures and lolly packets.
Take a few minutes every couple of days to bin the detritus of road trip life. You’ll feel better starting the next day in a clean car and it will also save cleaning time when you return home.

Check your roadside assistance coverage

No matter how prepared you are a break down or flat tyre can happen to anyone. Check your roadside assistance is up-to-date and, if you’re travelling long distances or with a caravan, consider upgrading to ensure you’re covered no matter how far away from home you are.

Pack for safety

Overpacking for a trip is something that befalls even the most experienced travellers. Loose items can become missiles in a crash so only pack what you need and ensure all items are securely stowed.

Read your owner’s manual to find out the maximum weight of the car when fully loaded with passengers and luggage. Visit a weighbridge if you’re concerned your vehicle may be overweight when fully packed.