The road trip checklist

Ah, the road trip. We’ve all had one, hated one, loved one or just had one we simply could not avoid. In Australia, like in the US, the long haul car trip is an institution with its own traditions and unique culture. Done well, it can be an enjoyable way to see the Australian bush and countryside. Done poorly and you’ll be at the mercy of the emergency services. With this in mind we took to creating a road trip checklist to help all those new at the experience.

The list

  • GPS – You DO need this, even if you know the trip inside out you still need a GPS for any other eventualities.
  • Inform a non-travelling friend of your plan – This is important as you may need someone to raise the alarm for you. You will need to tell this person about where you are going and when you expect to get there. More detail is good here; maybe even give it to them in an email or on paper.
  • Map – Yes, we know you’re bringing a GPS but you also need a map. Maps serve two purposes; they serve as a backup and they can help you (or more appropriately others in the car) plan during the drive.
  • Phone charger – Having one of these in the car is simply common sense, however having additional ones (which don’t rely on the vehicles battery) can literally save your life.
  • Insurance and roadside assist documents – Keeping these in your glove compartment is good practice as you may need these in the event that something goes wrong.
  • Vehicle check-up (tyre pressure, air conditioning, oil filter change and oil level) – This should be done regularly, even for normal driving. Doing it before a big trip will help you avoid the more common vehicle problems.
  • Journey planner (service stations and rest stops) – Like everything, this does not need to be a huge exercise in itself. Taking note of the service stations and rest stops along the way should help you understand how this will operate.
  • Food and water – For long isolated trips (across the Nullarbor Plain for example) this really needs to be highlighted. Even in the unfortunate event of needing the emergency services, they may take some time to get to you so having adequate supplies is a must.
  • Flashlight – Your phones light really is not strong enough. Couple this with the need to preserve your phones battery and you should understand why a flashlight is so important.
  • Basic first aid kit – There is no need to go overboard here. A simple zip lock bag with some basics (check out this list; should serve you well.
  • Traffic news check – This won’t save your life but driving 5 kilometres only to hit a 2 kilometre tailback is very frustrating. Traffic news should help you avoid this.
  • Music – Remember that in some spots the radio stations leave a lot to be desired additionally in some areas there are none. Bringing along a few CDs or an iPod connector can help avoid this common pitfall.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re taking off from isolated Alice Springs or from the built up areas of the east cost, the same rules apply. Caution is the keyword and proper preparation is a must. As a driver you need to think of both the needs of the vehicles and the needs of the occupants. The key is to think hard about these, as an hour or two in you’ll know all too well if you've forgotten something. After all, rushing into the trip and forgetting something is a lot more disappointing than taking an extra 5 minutes to get things right.

Have you ever had a road trip disaster?

Do you have anything else you bring along?

Please comment below.

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