When I was a 17 year-old finishing my final year of school, I was not privy to the sublime disaster that is Schoolies Week. I certainly didn’t pack up for the Gold Coast like a lot of my mates and fellow students, and while I was forced to live vicariously through their tales of late night (mis)adventures and putrid morning regrets at the time, I wasn’t too fussed to miss it by the time they all crawled home again.
Flip forward 20-odd years, and the kids of my school buddies are packing their own trunks, both luggage and vehicular, and heading North for the annual party week(s). The horrified expressions on the faces of the parents who have been there says a lot about Karma.
But without slapping on a chastity belt, barring the windows and padlocking every door, the trip is inevitable for most. So the best one can do, be it ex-student or parent, is to plan ahead, and make this rite of passage as smooth as possible.
First; the car. The Five Car Care Commandments should be checked at a minimum to ensure mechanical integrity. Tyre tread, alignment and pressures, oil, fluids, battery water and other basic checks should be checked. Plus, ensuring the log book is in the glove box along with any emergency numbers that may be required, such as help lines for the vehicle, or roadside assistance cards and numbers.
Motoring club roadside assistance schemes (such as NRMA or RACQ) still offer basic assistance cover for interstate-travelling members, though the level of care depends on your organisation, so check out the coverage offered your state’s association before the departure date. And hot tip: If you’re a member, make sure payments are up to date.
Road rules can also differ from state to state, so ensure the drivers are aware of them. For example, passenger restrictions come into effect between 11pm and 5am for P1 drivers in Queensland. Check out the Government website for L and P plate details before the car and crew leaves.
Another great travel tip for emergencies is kitting the car out with its own power cord for mobiles, or even buying a cheapie from the shops or post office for the glove box (though you have to check its charge from time to time). As power cords for phones typically get lost or left behind when travelling, this ensures a phone call in an emergency can always be made.
It comes in handy to make sure you have the numbers of the guests you teen is travelling with, and ensure there are enough people with up-to-date licences to share the driving load. It’s no good to run a big road trip interstate with one young driver, despite how invincible they feel – traffic, excitement, time and tiredness all rolled up into one comes with its hazards.
If the kids can’t share the driving, a plan with stopovers at ‘cool’ locations, cafes, and even an overnighter could be hinted at; even if they don’t want to make strict plans, an enticing lookout, a sweet café or a fun stopover may be too tempting a proposition to miss, and it ensures the drivers stop/revive/survive while enjoying the road trip.
And the best reminder is this: Schoolies and a big road trip after Year 12 is a real beginning of independence. And the main lifeline of said independencies is the ability to travel, or drive. The last thing anyone wants is to lose that freedom, through a loss of licence, a banged-up car, or worse. Ultimately, parents will be the nags we once accused our own parents of being, but drum that fact home. A reminder that they may be stuck at home with no wheels and no party should they cross a line should be enough to make any eighteen-year-old drive very, very carefully!
- Get the details of everyone your child is travelling with.
- Find out what route they’re driving to their destination.
- Set some ground rules and talk to your teen about drinking, driving, and the law.
- There is a Policelink App where you child can report any crimes or incidents that aren’t an emergency.
- Check insurance.
- Ensure car maintenance is done prior to leaving.
- Familiarise yourself on road rules in the states your child will be travelling across and ensure they are also educated in these.