When it comes to road trip, some people are planners and others just ‘wing it’. I’ve road tripped both ways and have learnt first hand that while a lack of planning can lead to some great, unexpected adventures, more often than not it can lead to wasted time, missed opportunities and more than a few arguments.
Fortunately, you can be better prepared, and have a much better trip, with the following tips.
Before You Leave Road Trip Checklist
- Roadside Assistance
If you have roadside assistance, make sure you know the coverage area and whether the company will tow you and your vehicle from where you’re heading. If you don’t have roadside assistance, this is probably something to consider at least for the trip.
- Leaving Time
Being stuck on the freeway on peak hour for the first few hours of your road trip is a rather unexciting kickoff. Take into consideration the obvious peak hours as well as Friday afternoons (especially before a long weekend), Sunday afternoons returning to the main city, Boxing Day, and returning on a Monday public holiday.
- Charge Your Batteries
You may be packing your phone, tablet, DVD player, other kids’ entertainment and more. You don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere only to find that none of it is charged. Charge before you head off.
- Don’t Forget The Spare Key
Losing car keys while you’re away is a sure fire way to start an argument and waste loads of valuable holiday time. Have a travel companion pack a spare set or leave a spare set in your suitcase.
- Registration & Insurance:
Is your vehicle registration and insurance up to date? With most states in Australia no longer issuing rego stickers, it’s amazing the increase in people who fall out of registration unwillingly. If you’re unsure, you can find out online via your state motor registry office.
- Traffic Fines Paid
Many of us get the odd traffic infringement and then put it in the bottom of the drawer to ‘worry about later’. Next thing you know, the highway patrol is pulling you over for an unpaid traffic fine. Avoid the trouble and be up to date.
- Check Weather & Traffic News
There are many websites and apps that provide up-to-date traffic information. Just before heading off, do a final check of the weather and traffic. If there are any issues on your route, you may choose to delay until later in the day or change your route.
- Emergency Plan
Do you know what to do in an emergency? Do you have a phone, phone numbers, and an emergency breakdown kit? If not check out the guide in our article Your car breakdown survival guide
- Rest Before You Head Off
In the lead up to a trip, many of us rush around packing and tying up last-minute details. Plan ahead and make sure you get some rest before heading off (especially if you’re the driver). Also, plan to rest along the way and/or switch drivers.
Do you know how to get where you’re going? Even if you do you may choose to take a scenic route and explore. Gone are the days of the street directory. A built-in GPS or phone app is invaluable to ensure you don’t get lost. This is especially important in remote locations. If you’re relying on your phone maps and will be out of phone and internet service range, make sure you pre-download any maps you might need.
This one deserves its own section. If you have an adventurous spirit, without kids you can wing a road trip to some degree. With kids, good planning can prevent a meltdown. Pack what you need for the kids, plan rest stops, plan around nap times, and make sure you have entertainment and a meltdown emergency plan covered. You can find more info on travelling with kids in our article Surviving kids on a road trip
- Phone numbers:
You should now have your emergency and roadside assistance numbers covered. But do you also have your insurance provider, destination accommodation, and anyone else you may need to get in touch with?
When it comes to having awesome hassle-free road trips jam-packed with adventures, the devil really is in the details. A bit of extra planning and you’ll be much more likely to avoid sticky situations… or at least prepared to handle them if they do arise. Have fun road tripping!