The road journey is an adventure classic. In the sunburnt country, the land of sweeping plains, setting your wheels spinning in some prime piece of real estate is one of the greatest experiences you can have. Preparation is key. Here are some points to consider before you hit the road.
Make a booking for a thorough check-up in the month before you leave to allow time for any necessary repairs to be scheduled. Vehicle repairers get busy as peak holiday time approaches and it's not something you can overlook.
Motoring Organisation Membership
Check your membership is up to date and have your roadside assistance number handy.
When you're locked and loaded, stop at the first service station along your route and check tyre pressure. Remind yourself what your correct tyre pressure for your vehicle should be by checking with the label inside the driver's door, and don't forget the spare.
You're probably going to be out of reach of your favourite radio station so download whatever music you need onto a device. If there are kids in the back seat, consider their needs. Movies offer a couple of hours of distraction while for the ones in the front seat, comedy podcasts can help keep you refreshed and alert.
If you don't already have a GPS device, you need one. Either buy it or download an app to your smartphone or tablet. Sygic (sygic.com) maps load to your device and give you turn-by-turn voice prompts as well as a visual feed. Sygic maps are not expensive and once downloaded, no further data downloads are required.
You might prefer to stay flexible and book accommodation when and where you feel like stopping, but if you're travelling in holiday periods you might find yourself with a very limited choice, or even driving well into the night to find a bed. If it's school holidays or a major event happening along your route, book yourself in before you hit the road.
Drive Australia (driveaustralia.com.au) is an RACV website that can help you plan your route. Key in your starting address and destination and you get detailed instructions on how to get there. While there are no voice commands, which means this is no substitute for a GPS when you're behind the wheel, it's perfect for when you're sitting at your computer planning the journey.
Plan your stops
On a long drive, motoring experts recommend a stop every two hours.
Anytime you start feeling drowsy, pull over as soon as possible, take a rest and follow it up with a walk around in fresh air. As the road signs in India say, "It is better to be late, Mr Driver, than the late Mr Driver."
Whether it's a lunch break or a rest stop there are a few things you'll probably need every time you stop so keep them within easy reach. The list includes:
- Sun block
- Insect repellent
- Basic first-aid kit
- Water bottle
- Wet wipes
- If you plan to stop near a beach, throw in bathers and a towel.
Plan your Meal Stops
Eating fast food is a quick and easy solution when you're on a long trip but much of this type of food carries a high glycemic load. This causes a spike in blood sugar levels, and in some individuals that results in feelings of drowsiness. If you've experienced these symptoms in the past, either plan to eat in cafes or restaurants with a wider choice or take along some prepared snacks. Low glycemic index foods include sourdough and wholegrain bread, most vegetables, pasta and nuts.
It's easy to forget about your fluid intake when you're behind the wheel, and tempting if toilet stops are scarce, but staying hydrated will help keep you on the ball.
Tell the Neighbours
Dates when you're away, when you'll be back and contact numbers just in case, and preferably two sets of neighbours.