Planning Your Road Trip Around a Destination
Many people consider road trips to be the best way to take a holiday. Sure, a car may not get you to your destination as quickly as other means can, but that is often part of the fun. Of course, Australians love to travel, and the country’s well maintained roads make it possible for travellers to see the beauties of the country up close and personal.
While road trips may provide the feeling of being free and spontaneous, it’s also important to adequately prepare, and one of the best ways to do that is to plan the trip around a specific theme or place of interest. The following will help you do so, as well as provide you with useful tools for making your road trip a success.
Themes you might consider
Instead of packing up the car and driving wherever the wind carries you, consider basing your trip on a theme or specific destination. The following are some of the most popular in Australia.
- Camping trip: There is no better way to get to know the country than by camping outside every night. This is easy to do given the fact that there are thousands of campsites spread across Australia. While camping is unappealing to some, don’t forget that there are many ways to camp, from the basic tent to camper trailers. You could also designate a few nights on the trip as hotel nights, to get a warm shower and sleep on a comfortable bed. Camping is relatively inexpensive, as are other activities that go along with it, such as hiking, swimming and fishing.
- Adventure trip: While some people go on holiday to relax, others want to pack their time with as many adventurous activities as they can. Australia is not lacking in unique adventures. For example, you may want to base your trip around water sports such surfing, scuba diving, white water rafting, jet skiing or even parasailing. Or, you could focus more on motorsports such as off-road buggy driving, stunt driving, motor biking or go-carts. You could also take a 4WD adventure through the Outback, visiting places such as Gibb River Road, Pioneers Path, Flinders Ranges, or the Simpson Crossing. Other types of adventures include theme parks, rock climbing, the Skywalk in Sydney, or the Zorb ride.
- Family trip: Having children in the car adds a whole new dynamic to the road trip. Fortunately, Australia has plenty to do for those of all ages. For example there are many family-friendly beaches to enjoy. During the warmer months there are swimming pools, rivers, lakes, and even waterfalls and thermal pools in the National Parks. Some may choose to organise a family trip around one or more of Australia’s theme parks. Some of these include Adventure Park in Victoria, Luna Park in Sydney and Melbourne, and Dreamworld and Wet n’ Wild on the Gold Coast. Several days could be spent at these parks and the surrounding region.
- Important Cities/States: Another idea is to revolve the trip around important cities or states, whether they be historically significant or just places you have always wanted to see. One of the most popular is Queensland with several regions to explore including Brisbane city, the Great Barrier Reef, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast and more. Victoria is also a common place for visitors, as it includes regions such as Melbourne, Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges. Or you could drive out to Western Australia to see Perth, Australia’s Coral Coast, and the Golden Outback.
How to research a destination
Where and when you decide to travel may largely depend on what you discover while researching destinations. There are many factors to consider when planning a trip. The following are some of the most important.
- Weather: What time of year will you be travelling and what will the weather be like? Road trips can easily turn dangerous in heavy rain. Extreme weather on either end can also cause car problems.
- Timing: How long do you have? When do you have to get back for work or other responsibilities? Always allow for more time than you originally think you’ll need. This will create a time buffer in case of an emergency or other unexpected situations.
- Holidays: While holidays may be the only time you can get away, realise that the roads, as well as popular attractions will be much busier. Plan far ahead, give yourself extra time and take traffic and crowds into account.
- Accommodation: It’s usually best to book where you will be staying far in advance, especially if you will be staying in several different places. You don't want to end up sleeping in the car.
Tools to help you plan
- Maps: You obviously need to know where you are going and how to get there. There are several types of detailed maps that can help you arrive at your destination in the shortest amount of time possible. Most people use travel map books which cover all of Australia, including states, territories, cities, towns and roads. Fold out maps can be purchased for individual states if you want a little more detail. For those travelling into the outback, four-wheel drive maps will help you find gravel tracks, creek crossings and hazards to be aware of. Other types of maps you may consider include campsite maps, trail maps, and travel brochures and guides.
- Online route planner: A number of free online services exist that can help you map out your trip and create an itinerary. Some of these services can find the best possible route for you. You can also share your route with others as well as get new ideas from what others have done. Some of the more popular online planners include tripit.com and travelmate.com
- Australia.com: This website has a section titled “Best of Australian Roadtrips”. The site details popular areas of travel and describes specific attractions in length. You simply click on a region of the country to find out what you can see and how long it will take you. While you don’t have to follow the site’s recommendations exactly, it will give you a good place to start.