The ultimate summer road trip guide
As we come into summer, there’s no better time to hit the road and embrace the freedom warm weather brings. A summer road trip is a quintessential Australian experience, offering the chance to explore new locations, discover hidden gems and create memories that will last a lifetime. Before you depart however, it’s important to carefully plan and prepare for the heat, which can be fatal if left unchecked. So no matter where you’re headed, we’re here to help you keep your cool on the road this summer.
Choosing your destination
Picking the perfect destination is vital to an epic summer road trip. Due to the (at times) unbearable nature of an Aussie summer, we strongly suggest choosing a location that comes alive in warm weather. Coastal towns are a great option for those keen to make the most of the ocean and cooling sea breeze without leaving civilisation. Prefer something off the beaten track? Investigate locations that permit beach driving and put that four-wheel drive to good use!
If the beach isn’t your style, there’s still plenty of fun to be found in Australia’s vast array of river systems and swimming holes, most of which can be accessed with all-wheel drive (or even two-wheel drive if you’re game enough). Just make sure that before you depart, you’re adequately prepared for the journey and know what you’re getting yourself into - check out our guide on off-roading for more info.
Vehicle maintenance in the heat
The summer heat can pose unique challenges for your vehicle, making regular maintenance vital for a seamless road trip. If you're planning a long drive, consider scheduling a trip to the mechanic first to have your vehicle's cooling system thoroughly checked over by an expert. Relax knowing all your car’s essential fluids have been topped up and that any potential issues, such as worn out brake pads, have been flagged and repaired prior to your departure. On the off chance you’re unlucky enough to get a flat tyre, ensure your vehicle's spare is ready for action and that you know how to change it (or know who to call to change it for you). Familiarise yourself with common signs of overheating, such as an elevated temperature gauge, and take immediate action if you become concerned whilst driving. By prioritising these maintenance tasks, you not only enhance your vehicle's performance in the heat but also reduce the risk of a breakdown, helping you to cruise with confidence.
A well thought out budget is key to a stress free road trip. To begin, we suggest estimating your total fuel costs based on your chosen route and vehicle efficiency. Once you know roughly how much the journey’s going to cost you, you can begin researching accommodation options. Regardless of your preferences, it’s important to keep in mind that some locations may have limited choices and/or availability, particularly if you’re travelling during peak season. Remember to allocate funds for meals, activities and any unexpected expenses that may pop up along the way. Flexibility is key, and a financial cushion for spontaneous detours means you don’t have to pass on any must-try local experiences.
Mapping out the itinerary
By mapping out your travel itinerary you can plan how many kilometres you aim to tackle per day, whilst also ensuring adequate rest stops. If you’ve got time to spare, the scenic route is often a worthwhile detour, allowing you to meander through quaint towns and countryside you’ll likely bypass should you choose to take the highway. In Australia we’re blessed with an abundance of amazing roadside attractions that are worth a visit. We suggest investing the time to mark out any points of interest you may be eager to see and incorporate them into your trip. Whether it’s a comically large object, amazing natural phenomenon or a tasty treat, it’s good to plan ahead.
Some of our favourite stop offs in NSW include:
- Fitzroy Falls - Fitzroy
- Sea Cliff Bridge - Clifton
- The Three Sisters - Blue Mountains
- Heatherbrae’s Pies - Heatherbrae
- Painted Rocks at the Breakwall - Port Macquarie
- Dorrigo National Park - Dorrigo Mountain
- Blue and Green Pools - Angourie
- The Big Prawn - Ballina
Hydration and refreshments
Staying hydrated is a crucial aspect of any summer road trip. Packing an easily accessible cooler is a great way to ensure both driver and passengers remember to drink plenty of water whilst on the road. It may also be helpful to pack some frozen bottles to keep not only yourself, but also any perishable food items you’ve brought along with you, nice and cool. Hot tip: stock up on snacks before you depart to avoid paying the astronomical servo prices.
Whilst it might be tempting to only pack a bikini or pair of budgie smugglers on your next summer holiday, it’s important to remember that good sun protection cannot be overrated. In addition to your trusty sunglasses and hat, pack clothes that are lightweight, breathable and comfortable to drive in. Most importantly, don’t forget to have a bottle of sunscreen on hand to prevent the dreaded ‘trucker’s tan’. Sun protection also extends to your vehicle too, with a reflective sun shade being a worthwhile investment to keep your car’s interior temperature slightly below ‘inferno’.
Safety and emergency essentials
Prioritising safety is paramount on any road trip, especially during the summer months when the conditions can be extreme. Start by assembling a comprehensive first aid kit that includes essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any necessary medications. Additionally, be sure to pack a roadside emergency kit complete with jumper cables, a tyre pressure gauge, and a basic toolkit. While you may not encounter a situation requiring these items, being prepared offers you the chance to be a hero should the opportunity arise. By proactively planning for any potential emergencies, you can dive into the exciting aspects of your trip without the nagging worry of unforeseen obstacles.
Enjoy your next road trip knowing you're prepared for whatever the open road might throw at you. Summer is the season for spontaneity and adventure. Whether you're chasing the thrill of the unknown or relishing an annual getaway to your favourite spot, the journey is yours to craft. Have fun!