Travel addict Steph Parker has written an article on “6 Key Things to Consider Before Your Aussie Road Trip”, as Steph says “a little bit of planning can get you a long way.”
To read more from Steph visit Big World Small Pockets.
This has been republished with permission from Steph Parker.
"6 Key Things to Consider When Planning Your Aussie Road Trip”
Vast, diverse, wild and beautiful, the Australian landscape lends itself to road tripping. However, with its size, sparseness and seasonal variations come problems, or at least things that can potentially cause problems!
Here at Big World Small Pockets, we’ve had our fair share of Aussie road trip experience and are no strangers when it comes to knowing the key things you need to consider before you head off. Hopefully this list will help ensure that your trip preparations, like ours, run as smooth as possible!
1. Vehicle Health
You will need to make sure your vehicle is in a fit state to make your intended road trip well before you set off. This is key, so do make sure you allow enough time for any necessary repairs etc that need to be made beforehand.
Obviously there are simple things that you can check yourself such as tyre pressure, oil, water, brake fluid and power steering fluid. However, there are some things that can only be tested by a professional mechanic.
Book your car in for a service around 6 weeks before any long trip and tell the mechanic of your plans. It may seem like a hefty outlay, but believe us, it will cost you a lot more to get something fixed on your vehicle in a remote area of Australia if you breakdown!
2. Navigation Tools
Navigating, and the tools to help you do so, are one of the key things to consider before your Australian road trip.
If you’re not straying too far off the bitumen, then navigating should be very easy, especially as many tourist offices around the country provide free regional maps, which are certainly worth grabbing if you get the chance.
If you’re using an online map system or Google maps to help you navigate, then do make sure you have a backup solution in the case of signal or reception failure, which is extremely common outside populated areas in Australia.
GPS systems are a great option, especially if you’re going off the beaten track in the Outback etc. They may seem like costly pieces of equipment but trust us, they soon pay for themselves in the domestic drama they’ll save you alone!
3. Fuel Capacity
The more remote you are, the more fuel can cost in Australia, so do be aware it may well be your biggest expense on the road. (In Central Australia, for example, we were paying in excess of $2.50 p/litre for diesel - ouch!) As such, fuel is one of the most important things to consider when planning an Australian road trip, especially if you’re on a tight budget like us!
Beyond price, the other thing that makes fuel a key component to consider is availability. If you’re travelling really remote, then there might not be any fuel stations for 100km or so, which could be a potential disaster if you’re not prepared.
Due to both these factors, you really want to consider your options for carrying fuel with you onboard. Ideally, you should have a long range tank, however carrying at least 2 x 20ltr jerry cans for use in emergencies is a must. Having the extra jerry cans can also save you having to buy large amounts of expensive fuel in remote locations.
4. Water Storage
Like fuel, water is a precious commodity when road tripping around Australia and, like fuel, water can also be scarce in many parts of the country.
Generally, we work on the basis that you need a minimum of 5l of water per person/per day. That said, if you are also using it to wash dishes and /or potentially shower, then you’re going to need a lot more! Ditto if you’re road tripping through the hot desert or tropical areas of Australia.
As such, you must think about how you can carry some water on board during your Aussie road trip. Can you fit some water containers in your vehicle? What size? Can you get a water tank fitted if you have a 4wd? There are many new and innovative water storage units on the market so do your research about what sort of product might work for you. We carry 60 litres of drinking water and 30 litres for showers and washing up etc.
5. Food Options
Thinking about how you might carry food is essential when planning your Aussie road trip. On longer adventures (more than few days), we always take a fridge with us and rig it up to the second battery. This is so great for keeping food for longer in the hot Australian weather and we wouldn’t be without ours. Do bear in mind however that fridges like this are expensive!
If we’re just going for a shorter trip, then we always go for the cheaper option of just taking an esky with us and filling it up with blocks of ice. Taking food in jars, tins or packets that will last longer without refrigeration at all is also a good option, as is packing harder fruit and vegetables like apples or carrots that won’t bruise easily. FYI: nuts seeds and muesli bars, make great driving snacks!
6. Power Supply
And last, but no means least, one of the 6 key things to consider before your trip is how you are going to configure your power supply when you’re on the road.
If you are happy to pay for powered sites in a caravan park every night, then this might be less of a problem for you. If, however, you do want to get out into the wilderness a bit – and let’s be honest, what’s an Aussie road trip without a bit of wilderness – then you really need to think about how you are going to charge to all your electrical devices.
From fridges to phones, laptops to LED lights, GPS systems and our blender, there’s so many electrical devices that we wouldn’t be without on our long road trips! As such, we certainly require a power supply to keep everything working when we’re not driving the car and charging the battery that way.
A dual battery system is a must for us and to keep this topped up we carry a portable solar panel, which we use every day. This is all fine if all your equipment can charge / operate on 12v, but what about the blender and the laptop? This is when we use our pure sine wave inverter - a great device that brilliantly converts the dual battery system power from 12/24v to 240v meaning we can run all our gadgets despite being hundreds of kms away from mains power – hoorah! We also carry a battery charger so when we do stop somewhere with power we charge up the second battery to keep it in good condition.
It might all sound a bit technical, but if you are road tripping Australia for a decent amount of time you certainly will need to think about your power supply. No lights or fridge is ok for a few days, but it quickly grows tiring and annoying if you’re on the road for any longer. So take a leaf out of our book and definitely think about your power supply before you hit the road – you won’t regret it!
So those are 6 key things to consider before your Aussie road trip, because a little bit of planning can get you a long way!