An Australian road trip is an extremely popular idea for the many international tourists that arrive on our shores every year, especially families that plan to see as much as they possibly can with the amount of time they have here.
Despite the increasing costs of travelling Australia, it has not dampened the enthusiasm for many to hit the open roads and embark on the classic Aussie Road Trip. Australia is a vastly big country that requires many hours behind the wheel to traverse from state to state and city to city.
The added worry for families is making the road trip as comfortable, memorable and hassle-free as possible for everyone on the trip, including the little ones.
In this article, we will highlight some things that you will need for your Australian road trip with the family!
For an Australian road trip, you need a car
Cars are relatively inexpensive these days especially second-hand ones. Places like Gumtree are a good place to start looking for your Aussie Adventure set of wheels.
Do a bit of research, know your prices before you arrive and be ready to negotiate. Do you need a 4WD, a people mover or will a sedan do? Are you planning on going off-road in the red centre or just cruising the highway down the never-ending Australian coastline.
We would recommend taking any car to a mechanic first before buying. They will be able to tell you of any problems the car might have, any repairs that will need to be done to make it up to standard and whether it is a good buy. This could save you on the costs of travelling to Australia.
Family Travel Tip: Australia has strict laws on children travelling in car seats. Height and weight as well as age are all factors in whether your child should be in a car seat, booster seat or restrained using a safety harness while in the car. They can be very confusing so it is always best to check. If you head over to VicRoads you will be able to see what is the right choice for your child.
A TomTom or Navman will come extremely handy in Australia. Sometimes it hard to find road names and signs when you are in the bush and the outback not to mention the city. Sydney is one of the hardest cities to drive in anywhere as there were no grids or blocks set out when they designed the road system. Never be lost and with a dedicated GPS, you will always be on track to your destination. A GPS will also help you to find local amenities quickly that you might need for your kids if you get into trouble or you need some assistance while you are in a town.
Family Travel Tip: If you have the option to map out your route before you set out for your trip please do so. Also if you know you are staying in a place for a little while bookmark the emergency places like the hospital and doctors clinic.
Emergency Services in Australia.
Our emergency services number is 000. This number will connect you to the Fire Brigade, Police or Ambulance BUT you are only to use it in an emergency. If you do have to attend the hospital please take your passport and any medical information that emergency staff may need, with you. If your English is not great it may be an idea to have any medical conditions translated before you come over.
Family Travel Tip: If you are going off into the outback or into the bush the radio is another way of keepping in touch with the outside world. If you plan to do this any emergency will be broadcast over the ABC radio station. Also let someone know where you are going even if they in your home country. Check in with them whenever you can and let them know where you plan to go next.
Jumpstarter air compressor pack.
Being able to get yourself moving when suffering a flat battery or even a flat tyre is always important. Being such a big place if you head the to the outback or the bush you may not see another car for hours.
Keeping this all-in-one car emergency unit charged and in the boot of your car will give you peace of mind no matter where you get stuck. These starter compressor units will save you time and money and prove its worth on countless occasions. These units start at around $99.
Picking a place to stay on you Australian Road Trip
While most people book an apartment or a hotel to stay in so many people pass by caravan parks and holiday parks which are fabulous places to stay for families. They have come a long way in the past years and they are so geared towards family travellers. In the holiday parks, you don’t have to worry about parking or where to find the closest park for the kids to blow off some steam because it is all right there for you.
There are camp kitchens, playgrounds, pools and laundry facilities if you decide to camp rather than stay in a cabin. Best of all the people working in the parks are, the majority of the time, locals and as most people know there is nothing like a bit of local knowledge!
Family Travel Tip: Call by BCF or Rays Outdoor and pick yourself up a tent, sleeping bags and some blow-up mattress if you prefer to see Australia that way. You will find many camping grounds both free and paid in Australia.
Camping is a great way to meet people and get to know more about the Australian way of life while saving some dollars in the long run. Stop by the local bookstore or order you free camping guide online before you arrive.
If you have kids a back of the seat Dvd player is important for your own sanity. Long travelling distances mean the kids will get bored and rowdy. Fill a hard drive or get a few of their favourites to keep them occupied. You can pick up a cheap set from any of the chain stores if you don’t bring one from home.
Not only will planning ahead and doing a small amount of shopping at the supermarket will help you with your budget. You can buy bread and sliced meat to make sandwiches if you are planning on a big day on the road and have snacks ready to go.
This will help you keep the kids happy too. There is nothing worse than having hungry kids in the car and searching for a place to eat that suits everyone. Also if you are stopping at a place that offers free condiments but you don’t use them all take them anyway as they may come in handy down the track.
Family Travel Tip: You can buy some fruit juice boxes or keep some old bottles and fill them with water to freeze if you are staying at a place with a freezer. You can put these in a fridge bag or small esky to keep your food cold especially in the summer.
Some supermarkets offer a discount off fuel if you spend money on grocieries in the supermarket. They are only available at participting fuel outlets alligned with the supermarket but may save you a little bit of money.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the sun always shines and the temperature is always warm in Australia. I can tell you the nights and mornings can be very chilly even during the summer months.
We know luggage space is at a premium these days but definitely bring some warm clothes. A jumper and some warm travel pants are a must for an early morning walk on the beach or a late night drink with new friends at a campground.
Family Travel Tip: Instead of having to stop at a chain store for all of your needs you may be able to pull up in a town and find the local ‘Oppie’ The local opportunity store is a treasure trove if you are travelling around and you can find so much there from clothes to toys. This will help you save money on clothes and you will be able to pick up some things cheap for the kids. Best bit is you can donate it all back at the next store to get some new items!
Be Sun Smart:
The Australian sun can be harsh and it is not uncommon for people to be burnt even while sitting in the car in the sun! You can call into any chemist in the country and buy yourself some SPF50+ sunscreen and some Aloe vera after sun spray.
One thing you can rely on in Australia is that the sun will be strong and if your skin is not used to it you will burn. These things will fit perfectly in the glove box ready for everyday use. Hats and even rash shirts to swim in will provide with much-needed protection. Sunglasses are also a great item to have if you are driving around.
Family Travel Tip: If you do burn pop the aloe vera spray into the esky with your food (make sure it is sealed well and seperated from the food) to keep it cold. This will help ease the heat from the burn and make you more comfortable. If you can then put a damp muslin wrap or light cloth over it that will also help.
Always stay connected to home. It doesn’t matter if it is via the internet or by calls but you need to let your loved ones know what you are up to. Most fast food outlets, chain coffee stores and large shopping centres have free wifi but it can be unreliable. You can get a prepaid sim card from the local post office or you can pick up a pack at the supermarket.
Family Travel Tip: It is not always possible to charge your devices at the local fast food outlet so if you are camping in un-powered sites you need to allow for that. If you are using a fast food outlet see if they have a ‘loyalty card’ for free coffee. You can get it stamped and earn free coffee along the way.
Another great spot to go is the local library if you are out in regional towns. Here they will have wifi and will possibly allow you to charge your devices. You may have to pay a small fee to use the interent but it will not be a huge cost.
So there are our top tips for the epic Aussie Road trip and how we think you can make it easier and slightly cheaper. There are so many things to see in this HUGE, amazing land of ours so please do your research, know where you are going and how long it will take you!
More about the Author
Bec Wyld is a mother, wife, community care worker and once reluctant traveller. But now Bec has been to over 35 countries across the globe and is always seeking more adventures. She has planned, stressed, laughed and chatted in all of them. Bec’s writing can be found on Wyld Family Travel, as a guest poster on popular sites and contributor on travel websites including Lonely Planet Kids.