Hot weather is particularly cruel on cars so it’s a good idea to get it serviced before you go, check that all fluids are topped up the car’s cooling and air-conditioning work well. Also ensure the tyres are in good order and properly inflated.
Don’t just go with the fastest route. Think about meal and rest breaks, attractions to see and which towns and facilities can be useful if you have kids, pets or other passengers with certain needs in tow.
Things to consider in summer include confirming what places are open over holiday periods, and finding shady places to picnic. There are plenty of things that can happen beyond your control such as roadworks, bushfires and weather conditions, but you can get a heads up on them via a relevant organisations’ websites and apps. Digital maps and satellite navigation are great but have a paper map or road atlas in the car as a backup.
Sometimes it’s great to just go with the flow – whether your next destination is determined by following a random sign or tossing a coin, it’s still a good idea to take a bit of time to learn what to expect ahead.
DON'T SET ARRIVAL TIMES
How many times on road trips as a kid did you hear your dad say “we’re making good time …” only for him to stress out when slowed by caravans or roadworks? What’s the rush? Whether it’s a day trip or a holiday drive, don’t set any time targets and go with the flow. If there are reasons to be somewhere at a particular time, such as Christmas lunch or setting up camp before nightfall, try and leave with plenty more time than the journey would normally take. Let the drive be a relaxing part of your break rather than a stressful means to get there.
Try travelling on back roads instead of major highways even for a small segment of your journey. The scenery is always better, you can discover country towns and attractions and the driving is usually a lot more enjoyable.
Things to have handy in your car and easily accessible for a summer road trip, as well as the usual necessities, include:
• Radiator coolant
• Drinking water (stay hydrated)
• Swimming togs, even if you don’t intend to swim
• Rain/shade umbrella.
• Phone charger cable
• Insect repellent
• Sun cream
• Favourite pillow
• An orange plastic tarpaulin (if travelling to remote areas) which does everything from creating shade, help gather water in rain or by evaporation and can be used to signal aircraft.
Pack as lightly as possible for the convenience and fuel economy. If travelling for more than a day, use soft bags rather than cases are they’re easier to squeeze into the boot with other things. Limit everyone to one bag each.
STAY IN TOUCH
Update your nearest and dearest of your intentions while you travel so they’re not worried if they can’t get in touch with you.
These days it’s a lot easier to have your entire music and video collection with you in the car. If you don’t want your passengers to be in their own space with headphones on, rotate DJ duties. If you’re travelling with kids encourage them to take pictures so they take in the surroundings – perhaps set them (or your travel mates) a photographic scavenger hunt. Also remember things to keep you occupied for when you stop.
OLD WORLD COMMUNICATION
Avoid phone calls while driving long distances. Even with a hands free kit you can be distracted by conversation. Besides, you’re on a road trip to escape the daily grind – that goes for texts and emails, even if you’re a passenger. They’ll still be there when you stop.
KEEP AND EYE ON THE GAUGES
Monitor everything your car tells you from the speed (it’s summer the speed cameras and patrol cars will be out there) to your fuel status. Keep an eye on the engine temperature, too. Trip computers provide plenty of useful information such as fuel range and tyre pressures. If you’re in a new or hire car familiarise yourself with the trip computer’s menus and how to access them before you leave so you can do it while concentrating on the road.
NEED SOME INSPIRATION?
Check out a scenic alternative to the Hume Highway if doing a Sydney to Melbourne run or some of Australia’s romantic drives.