Your guide to road tripping

Road trips are a great way to bring the family together, explore new places and go adventuring at your own pace.

 

Whether you’re planning a ski trip, a warm escape or some outback sightseeing, here’s our guide for making sure your journey is a smooth ride.

Before you leave

It's a good idea to put some measures in place that will give you peace of mind as well as keep your home and family safe when you're on the road. 

Is your home really secure?

The last thing you want to do is worry about the safety of your home while you’re away. The Australian Security Industry Association Limited (ASIAL) recommends these tips for improving home security. 

  1. Lock down your key: Sounds basic, but if you have someone coming over to water the plants or feed a pet, don’t leave keys hidden outside – give the keys directly to the person to hold onto for the duration of your trip.
  2. Hold your mail: Mail that piles up is a sure indication that no-one is home. Put it on hold with the post office or ask someone to collect it daily.
  3. Prevent easy access: Don’t make it easy to look inside your windows or climb fences – remove anything around your property that could be used as makeshift ladder, including rubbish bins.
  4. Secure your garage and hide any tools that could be used to force entry.
  5. Don’t share too much: Be mindful of the images you share on social media; check your privacy settings and disable location services.
  6. Check your alarm: If you have a security alarm, ensure it’s maintained and in good working order.

Give your car a check-up

Unless you have the know-how to do it yourself, it’s a good idea to have your car serviced before a big road trip. Make sure oil, water, brake fluid and coolant levels are correct. We talked to Leon Saliba, co-founder and managing director of Sparesbox, who suggests going through this checklist to avoid unnecessary troubles on the road:

Air pressure: Correct tyre pressure is important for grip, stopping and turning. “Getting this right will help prevent tyre blow-outs, especially if you’re carrying things on the roof and you’ve got the whole family on board, as this increases the weight,” says Leon. Check the front door frame for a sticker showing the recommended tyre pressure for your car. “Failing that, you don’t want to go under 32 PSI as a minimum.” 

Lights: Before a car trip, ensure your lights are working front and back – and don’t forget your high beams. 

Windscreen: For optimum vision, clean the outside and inside of your windscreen. “Use a smudge-free window-cleaning product. Make sure you have appropriate washer fluid (not dishwashing liquid) for windscreen wipers, and change the blades every six months,” says Leon. 

Packing: Many cars have a boot that is open to the rest of the car, which can make securing items packed in there especially important. “Loose items such as umbrellas can become flying projectiles,” says Leon. 

Keys: Always take second car key if you’re travelling. “If you lose the original you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere,” Leon points out.

 

Winter road trip

Hitting the road

Driving long distances can mean long stretches between towns, petrol stations and facilities. You’ll need to be prepared by having plenty of fuel, personal medicines, food and water in case of breakdowns or unforeseen stops. 

If you’re driving in remote areas, make sure your mobile phones are fully charged (and take a car charger) and let your friends and family know where you’re headed as well as when you plan to arrive. For extra assurance (especially if you’re travelling in remote areas), you might consider hiring emergency communications equipment such as a satellite phone or beacon.

Factoring in rest stops is an important part of keeping you and your family safe. Driver fatigue is the cause of about 25 per cent of fatal road accidents, with this number increasing on rural roads. Yawning, rubbing your eyes or feeling restless are signs of fatigue, indicating you need to stop.
  
According to Tourism Australia, rest areas are located every 80-100 kilometres on main highways and roads. To locate a rest stop visit www.tollgroup.com/driverreviver to find more than 200 dedicated Driver Reviver sites across Australia.

“Are we there yet?” Keeping the backseat happy

Mum of three Mel Whymark drove around Australia last year with her husband and school-aged kids. She recommends:

  • Have plenty of drinks, kid-friendly snacks and a packed lunch on hand.
  • Don’t rush – allow for regular stops so the kids can stretch their legs.
  • Bring tablets – they’re versatile for watching movies, listening to music, taking photos, learning games and activities.
  • Take activities to do such as colouring-in, Sudoku and crosswords.
  • Keep a travel journal and get the kids to fill it out each day with things they’ve seen and done. If you have a polaroid-style camera you can snap and stick in photos or sketch some landmarks or animals. [Or buy cheap postcards when you stop!]
  • Take a pack of cards – they take up no space and kids can play on their own or together.
  • Play a game to see who’s the first to spot any wildlife.

A bit of focus on crafting your perfect road trip will pay off hugely to ensure your holiday is full of happy memories. From making sure the car is safe, to ensuring things are secure back home and the kids are happy and occupied once you hit the road, all you have to do now is hit ‘shuffle’ on the stereo and enjoy!