Swap the suit for a Hawaiian shirt and wave goodbye to your responsibilities, the open road is calling for you!

Whether it’s a public holiday or you’re itching to get away for a couple of days, the long weekend road trip is something everyone looks forward to. Of course, there is an art to creating that perfect getaway. There’s the music playlist to start compiling, the destinations to pick out and the snack list to begin shopping for. You can accomplish a lot in three days so before making your long to-do lists, let’s start by making sure you’re educated in all things road tripping!

How you can make your Aussie road trip the greatest

Rachel Power is a mother of three and the creator of the Great Aussie Road Trip. She has had her fair share of experiences on the road with her family and gives us some insight into the adventures a road trip can provide.

“Our first big road trip started it all! We travelled for four months around Mainland Australia with our girls who were five and three at the time. We never thought we would have the opportunity to do something like this however; it was the best experience of our lives.  We never thought we would road trip quite like it again, I was wrong,” says Rachel

“We were fortunate enough to spend two months every year on the road with our family. It brought out the best in all of us and the experience has benefitted our children even today – eight years after our first adventure.”

“Our favourite trips after our big lap have been Lake Eyre (where my son took his first steps!), Arkaroola, and then our Tassie Adventure. I think people who want to road trip have to remember to not plan and just go with the flow,” Rachel explains.

Rachel and her family on a road trip

Rachel’s tips on how to travel and stay adventurous

  1. The best places we have visited came from talking to other travellers and getting their opinions first hand. So meet new people and learn from others as much as you can.
  2. Go in a direction you have never headed before. Most roads we take lead to the same place, so take a new route! Find that secret beach or a great fishing hole.
  3. Long weekends are a great time to discover a new adventure along the roads and talk with your family about where they want to go next: coastal, bush, rainforest, mountains, the list goes on! Connect more with your family to find new places along the road.
  4. If you are a planner, book your accommodation but enjoy the reason for a road trip; freedom to experience.
  5. Remember that there is absolutely nothing better than settling into your camp/accommodation after a great day on the road. It’s even better when you have something to sit back and enjoy with. For me, it’s normally a bottle of local wine and local beer for my husband, and some local produce we try to pick up on our drive (cheeses, biscuits, fruits, teas etc).
  6. Arriving at your destination should be a time to reflect on the trip, enjoy the places you have stopped and for me; enjoy the foods you have gathered along the way.
  7. For those with a family, it’s not easy being a parent and having to entertain kids in the car! It is however the most rewarding thing when you see them step out of their comfort zone; they will make you proud as punch and will take away experiences that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Make sure your children create memories on the road.

“In this busy world we live in, a road trip will make you remember how much you love your family, how little you need to be happy and how much fun you can have with a fire and a bag of marshmallows. The ability to do something new will see you change the way you face the world. Do it, don’t think about it. You don’t know what it’s like until you get out on the road – then it’s too late, you’re hooked and you’ll never look back!”

Rachel's family adventuring

Checking off your road trip to-do list

You’re now feeling pretty excited for the long weekend ahead but it’s now time for the not so fun part of getting prepared for your adventure and begin ticking off that to-do list. So what do you need to check off and remember before zooming off into the sunset?

1. Make sure your vehicle is in good shape

Make sure you do the usual checks of your car before hitting the road; you don’t want to be stranded with no fuel or a flat tire! Go through all your car’s features such as the windshield washer fluid, oil and gas levels and air pressure in tires. Check your roadside assistance plan and make sure you are prepared for any car trouble.

2. Think about saving on fuel and your usage

Begin thinking about how you’ll pack your car for the weekend and remember that the lighter you pack the less gas you will need to lug your stuff from place to place. Think about your driving speeds too and the impact this has on your fuel levels. Remember to fuel up before venturing on your trip and plan your fuel station stops along the way.

3. Keep your car clean and tidy

Cleanliness is next to godliness as they always say! So start cleaning all that junk and garbage out of your car and start organising your belongings efficiently. Make sure emergency kits, water and blankets are accessible and bring a couple of garbage bags to throw out any rubbish that builds up in the car. It may seem trivial to keep organised and clean but this allows more time to travel and take in the views than stopping every hour to clean up or throw out waste.

4. Don’t over think and be flexible!

It’s always a good idea to have a general plan of what your road trip timeline will look like and the routes you will be taking to get from point A to point B. However, planning too much may mean missing out on some of the beautiful spots and sceneries Australia has to offer. Some of the best locations can be found when not following the path already mapped out so stay open minded!

5. Relax and remain positive on your road trip

Over the course of your three day adventure, expect the unexpected! This could include camp sites or hotels booked out, attractions shut down or a detour you have to take. Keep calm and remember you’re on an adventure and can adapt quickly in the car. It’s exciting to experience new things so if something doesn’t work out, turn around and drive to somewhere better!

Rachel's family at a sunset

6. Prepare that playlist

Since you will be spending a large amount of time in the car either by yourself or with others, music will always be there to fill in the silences and make your trip a wholly better experience! Whether you’ve run out of things to talk about, need something to pick you up or you’re taking in the scenery outside, background music will make driving so much more enjoyable. Get your playlist sorted before getting in the car and prepare for a music filled journey.

7. Work on those relationship skills

Since you’ll be in a car for many hours with one, two or maybe even four people, it might be time to start thinking cooperatively and patiently! It can be hard not to snap at a friend, partner or family member when you’re in a small space together. However, during the long periods of time in the car, communicate and try to have fun. This could be a weekend that will bring you all closer together, so maybe don’t bring up how bad of a driver your friend is!    

8. Keep an eye on your budget

Even though it’s only a three day weekend, it’s still a good idea to make sure you have your budget planned out. If you want to save your money, bring some food and drinks with you so you spend less on dining out. Accommodation costs can also be minimal if you decide to camp out or even sleep in the car! Take into consideration what attractions and sites you will be going to; could you enjoy the scenery and nature for free? Whatever your budget is, there are many ways to help save some extra cash along the way as well as getting the most of your money’s worth.

9. Be realistic in your timing

You have to remember that you are only going away for a short period of time so plan ahead in terms of where your midway point will be for your trip. Give yourself plenty of time to adventure and experience everything on your weekend away but also make sure you understand how much time you have at each destination. Keep a date and time in mind of when you need to start heading back home. Detours and random stops are absolutely fine if you’re able to reshuffle your schedule and change your timetable.

10. Finally, be spontaneous and creative!

The most important aspect of any trip away is to make sure you get the most out of it. So if you want to change direction while on the road and head somewhere else, go for it! Find something fun to do while in the car too to pass the time. Just because it’s only a three day adventure doesn’t mean you can’t pack it with extraordinary and interesting things to do. Find your creativeness and listen to your gut instinct, you’ll be sure to get more excitement on the road than anywhere else!

Rachel's daughters at the waterfalls

You should now be an expert in all thing road tripping and travelling. The bags are packed, the to-do list has been ticked off, now where to spend the long weekend? The most important decision you’ll have to make is where the best location will be for three days of adventuring. We have a couple of ideas to start your weekend off the right way, so start choosing your destinations and enjoy what Australia has to offer.

Where should you spend your road trip?

Destination: Sydney

The Grand Pacific Drive is where you’ll want to be cruising along this long weekend! If you’re driving from Sydney, head south and in less than an hour you’ll hit a 140 kilometre route of rainforests and spectacular ocean views. If you want to stretch the muscles and get out of the car, you can explore the vast bushwalks in the Royal National Park at the start of the trip. Make sure you take a dip in some of the hidden swimming holes located around the area and maybe stop off at some of the coastal towns like Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Destination: Brisbane

If you want to make the very most of your three day weekend then get away to the Border Range Loop Drive to enjoy grand mountain views and wildlife. The route starts from Brisbane to Ipswich then across the Great Dividing Range to Warwick, ending towards Tamborine Mountain. Over the 529 kilometre drive, check out the state’s oldest provincial city and the World Heritage-listed rainforest reserve. With so much to see and do it’s definitely advised to bring the walking shoes, plenty of snacks and of course a camera. You’ll be driving home with a big grin on your face afterwards and that’s guaranteed!

Guanaba creek mt tamborine

Destination: Melbourne

Road tripping from Melbourne and you have plenty of choice when it comes to your road trip adventure! If the sound of birds and wildlife is more your thing then the Dandenong Ranges is calling – home to the largest hardwoods and picturesque rainforests. The Silvan Reservoir Park and National Rhododendron Gardens are also spread along the way, offering up some space for the perfect picnic (remember to pack one!) If you’re taking a break from being behind the wheel and feel like a wind (or wine) down, then the Yarra Valley is your next stop. Known for its pinot noirs and sparkling wines, enjoy a glass or two with your partner/friend/family while taking in the surroundings.

Destination: Adelaide

Before thinking of anywhere else to drive to, if you’re visiting Darwin then a road trip along Explorer’s Way is a must. Whether you’re prepared to take on the full 3000 kilometre journey from Adelaide to Darwin or not, the breathtaking scenery of the outback will still keep you satisfied! Stop for some wine-tasting at the renowned Clare Valley vineyards or have a hike through the valley’s walking tracks. If you have some spare time on your hands, then make sure you stop at Mount Remarkable National Park – immerse yourself in the beauty of its deep gorges, watercourses and river red gums.

Clare Valley

Destination: Perth

Perth is one of the greatest places to take your road trip, especially if you’re a nature enthusiast! The Armadale Serpentine Trail boasts an incredible 34 scenic walks and trails to choose from: so where will you go? The 250 kilometre trip means there are no time pressures and plenty of opportunities to take it all in. If walking through the bushland isn’t your ideal adventure then the Araluen Botanic Park is still a site for sore eyes!

Destination: Darwin

The natural wonders of the Northern Territories Nature’s Way should be at the top of your priority list when road tripping from Darwin. It’s a combination of Australian heritage, Aboriginal culture and natural splendours. The trip can be wrapped up in two days so we suggest heading to Pine Creek and soak up the rays by the Adelaide River (or take on the crocs on the crocodile viewing tour). On day two, drive from Pine Creek to Jabiru through Kakadu National Park. Feel the spirits of the country and connect with the oldest living culture on earth at Kakadu.

small waterfall at kakadu national park

Author comparethemarket.com.au

Launched in September of 2012, Comparethemarket.com.au – operated by Compare the Market Pty Ltd (CTM) – has teamed up with a range of Australia’s insurance providers so you can compare some of the latest deals, in one place, side-by-side. The team behind comparethemarket.com.au have experience in insurance, comparison, customer service and digital. If this was a stuffy corporate monologue, we’d tell you that we’re a bunch of subject matter experts specialising in User Experience, Customer Insights & Online Strategies. But to be honest, it’s just as accurate (and a whole lot easier) to say that we’re a bunch of people who want to make your experience with online comparison better. We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re forward-thinking, that we share an entrepreneurial spirit, and the fact that we like to have a bit of a laugh too. We’re all a bit too addicted to chocolate, but no one’s perfect, really.

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