beautiful road

How to plan an Australian road trip

Australia could have been purpose-built for great road trips. Drive far and long enough, and you’ll find everything from snowy mountain ranges or dense tropical rainforests to pastoral highlands, outback wilderness and perfect white sand beaches. As you explore, you’ll find reclusive small towns, endless expanses of unspoiled natural beauty and a variety of indigenous wildlife.

However, before jumping in your car to explore the country, you’ll need to plan and equip your road tripproperly to ensure a safe and incident-free journey.

Here’s how to plan a road trip in Australia:

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Plan your route

Decide where you’re going in advance. It’s a bad idea to make an Australian road trip up as you go along, as climate, geography and the large distances between inhabited areas can cause all sorts of problems. To ensure a safe journey, you’ll need to figure out your final destination and how many sleepover stops you plan to make along the way.

Get a navigation app and buy an off-road map

A navigation app is a given, as this will make reaching your final destination a lot less stressful and help you keep tabs on your exact location at any given time. Both Google Maps and Waze will do the job. However, you will also need to carry a hard copy map with you in case your smartphone fails for any reason.

The best hard copy map to use is a HEMA map. While these maps are primarily popular with Australia’s off-road enthusiasts, they will assist you in accurately identifying dirt and gravel roads that may not show up on navigation apps. Since many of these roads are unusable unless you have a four wheel drive vehicle, identifying these on your route before you set out is critical.

Plan your fuel stops

Planning your fuel stops properly is more important than planning your rest stops. Australia is vast, and the distances between refuelling points can easily leave you stranded, with patchy cell phone coverage if you need to call for help. You’ll need to fill your tank whenever you stop, and ensure that the fuel you have onboard is enough to get you to the next point on your journey.

Take enough water

A couple of litre bottles of water won’t do the job on a serious Australian road trip. If you’re heading into the outback, you’ll need to take a large supply of water in the event your car breaks down or you otherwise find yourself stranded hundreds of kilometres from help. Prepare a minimum of 10 litres of water per person when stocking up for a trip into the wilderness.

Pack insect spray or lotion – and use it

Several species of Australian mosquito known to frequent more far-flung destinations can transmit diseases like Dengue fever, Murray River Valley encephalitis, Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. None of these is known to enhance long road trips, so carrying and making use of an insect spray is the simplest and easiest way to reduce your risk of contracting these diseases.

Take hard copies of everything

Have tickets or other important road trip documents stored in the cloud? Download them before you hit the road. Internet connections are either slow or unusable over large swathes of Australia, and you shouldn’t expect that you’ll be able to download documents when you need them.

Give your route to someone and plan check-ins

It’s always a good idea to give your planned route to someone at home before setting out on your road trip. Commit to checking in with them at specific points along the route and within specific date ranges. Request that they make a report to public authorities and alert them to your last known location in the event you miss a check-in by 24 hours or more.

Stay on the right side of the law

Leaving your license at home is a great way to add to the expense of your trip, as you may get caught and fined several times along the route. Ensure you have your drivers license on you before you leave. Also, keep in mind that traffic rules can vary quite a bit from state to state, so if you’re going out of state, read up on any major differences in traffic laws and adjust your speeds according to posted signage.

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