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Ultimate Road Trip Guide

Adventures

When the grind of 9 to 5 gets you down, shake off daily life's shackles and drive off into the sunset on the ultimate road trip.

It’s responsible for countless contributions to literature, film, and music, with everyone from Jack Kerouac, The Blues Brothers, and the cast of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert  inspired by its seductive sense of freedom. Most of us have felt like throwing it all in at some point, and jumping behind the wheel for a life-changing road trip. Before you burn rubber though, check out our tips to make the most of your journey.

TAKE A BLOWTORCH TO YOUR GPS

Two women sitting in a motorhome chatting

Ok, maybe don’t go that far. That could land you in a bit of trouble should you get lost, not to mention be a huge waste of money. But ditching the sat-nav for spontaneity is where it’s at. Sure, you’ve got a destination in mind (or not – in which case, I tip my hat to you, you free-wheeling wonder!), but you don’t need to be so rigid you miss out on a whole swag of unplanned sights and experiences along the way. Forget ‘making good time’. Make a few pit stops instead. Stop off at small towns, and have a yarn to the locals at the pub, or chat to Sheila at the milk bar. Who knows, she might be able to tell you where the most pristine swimming spot is. Relax your expectations and be open to new discoveries. And don’t forget to thank Sheila for the tip.

DON'T BE A HERO, BE A SCOUT

Campfire at a campsite

In other words, be prepared. You want to be spontaneous when it counts – making new discoveries and friends – as opposed to driving into the outback for weeks on end without even a basic kit. Consider where you are going, and how long you’ll be on the road. During a six hour trip you’ll probably be able to get whatever you need in service stations along the way, but make sure you plan before you head to more remote areas. A first-aid kit is essential, as well as adequate water supplies. Don’t forget chargers and adapters, as well as material to light a fire.

FIRES WIN FRIENDS

Campfire next to a camp oven

I’m not suggesting that you run out and set fire to something, but it’s a scientific fact that people who can light a great campfire are at least 40 per cent more popular with their travelling companions than those who can’t*. A campfire is great for warmth and comfort, cooking food, and keeping you busy when the conversation starts to get dull. If you’re camping on your road trip, fire is a must. Clear a space around the fire area, dig a pit or trench about 30cm to stop embers flying out, and when searching for firewood remember, the drier it is, the better it will burn. When using rocks to create a border around your fire, steer clear of river rocks. The moisture inside will steam and build up pressure, causing them to explode. And don’t be a jerk. Make sure campfires are permitted in the area you plan to light one, and observe fire danger warnings.

*Not a scientific fact

KICK NICKELBACK FANS TO THE KERB

Car towing a camper trailer in Watagans State Forest

A bit harsh? Perhaps, but you can’t underestimate the importance of a great road trip playlist. I remember an excruciating car trip with my cousin and her friend, who obviously didn’t share my theory. They played a Hootie and the Blowfish cassette – this is going back a few years – that only had two songs on it, on repeat for the whole trip. Let that sink in. Hootie and the Blowfish, on repeat, for eight hours. I now know all the words to Let Her Cry, and believe me, that’s what I did out of sheer relief when that car trip was over. Think about how long you’ll be in the car, and make sure the playlist is varied. You want a good mix of high energy tunes to boost morale, as well as low-key background music to accompany those deep conversations that will inevitably happen. See our playlist suggestions (right).

ROAD TRIP GAMES SAVE LIVES

Car towing a camper trailer in the forest

Don’t scoff, when the road ahead is dragging and you’re dying for a break, road trip games are what will save your sanity, and the more inane the better. One of my best friends is a muso, and has spent more than her fair share of time on the road in the tour van. She taught me this game, which has become a staple for me when toothpicks are holding my eyelids open. It’s simple to play, and is light on rules. Just drive along and when you see roadkill, yell out, “there’s one!”. It’s called, um, There’s One. Of course, there’s plenty of road trip game apps, or make up your own trivia games, ideal for a car full of know-it-alls.

MORE OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

- For the perfect road trip playlist, check out Top road trip tunes

- Wondering where to go on your next road trip? Here's Road trip: Binns Track, NT guide to get your started!

- Got a couple of weeks and want to disapear with your family off the grid? Road trip: Top End Circuit is for you. 

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