Top 10 tips for winter road trips

By WhichCar Staff, 10 Jun 2016 Car Advice

car in snow

The open road, a heated car, and an adventure with Jack Frost. Here are some simple tips to survive a road trip over a winter long weekend.

There’s nothing more Australian than a long-weekend road trip. Well, except maybe throwing a shrimp (ahem) on a barbie, thongs and riding a kangaroo to work. But those aside, road trips are a major part of the Aussie culture, even during the wet, cold and stormy months.

Here are a few tips to take away the chill on a winter road trip…

1. Check the weather before you go. Winter is notorious for changing its direction: one second it’ll be sunshine and rainbows, and the next your car will be pounded by thunderstorms and hail. Give Mother Nature a call (or just check the forecast) and be prepared.

2. Your idea to escape for the weekend isn’t a unique one, and chances are the rest of the population probably have the same plans. It’s not a road trip if you’re stuck in traffic (more of a road crawl if you will), so either set yourself a realistic arrival time by taking traffic into account, or find the alternative road-less-travelled route.

3. Make a good playlist. You’ll probably spend more time in the car during winter than you will in summer, so have a timed-playlist to keep you sane. Better still, pack it with summery songs to remind you of bluer skies.

4. Don’t be in a rush. You have two to three long days to get to where you’re going, or four if you were smart enough to take an extra day off either end of a public holiday. Take your time, lower your speeds and enjoy the drive. It’s a ‘road trip’ after all. It’ll make traffic less frustrating and keeps you safer on winter’s slippery roads.

5. Prepare your cars for the right tools to match your destination. Heading to the snow? Pack a shovel, snow chains, something to scrape the ice away and warm clothes. Heading seaside? Then pack your blankets, fire wood, and some gumboots.

6. It’s a standard road trip tip, but give your car a check over before any long drive. Tyres, oil, transmission fluid, coolant, battery, brake fluid, lights and windshield wipers should be checked to ensure they’re in working condition. Also check your spare tyre is properly inflated and is roadworthy, just in case you get a flat. 

7. Get a good night’s sleep before you take off. Driving in poor weather can be fatiguing, as can sitting under a heater, so only drive when you’re feeling alert. You’ll need extra concentration to cope with slippery roads and poor visibility.

8. Plan your sights. Try to plan your stops around undercover sights, and avoid focusing on things outdoors. You’ll be disappointed if it starts to pour with rain and you have to miss out.

9. If you’re travelling with kids, make sure you have plenty of in-car games on hand. Chances are you won’t be able to stop as regularly as you would in the warmer months to let the kids run around and burn energy, so bunk the boredom with some fun games. 

10. And for our best advice… drive somewhere sunny.