It’s that time of year again. Canberra is warming up and the holiday season is edging closer and closer. What does this mean? Road trips!
No matter where you are going or how long your journey may be, always hit the road prepared and ready to enjoy the ride. The road trip is half the fun after all.
Step 1: Prepare the car
This is your home for the next two…six…10 hours. Make sure the windscreen is clean, water jets are working, petrol tank is full and check your tyre pressure.
Fingers crossed the air-con works because let’s face it, there is only so much one can take off the windows down going 110km per hour. If you or your passengers run hot, freeze some water bottles the night before to use as a cooling ice pack and refreshing beverage.
If you don’t already have one, a windscreen shield (the foily looking thing you put in the window when it’s parked) does wonders. Suction-cupped window shields or even towels to cover the windows can keep the sun out of the side windows and the cabin cool.
Make sure you pack blankets, pillows, toilet paper (for those less-than-ideal pit stops) or whatever you might need on the road on top of everything else. To avoid side-of-the-highway boot rummages, chuck some hand sanitiser, tissues, bandaids, sunglasses, deodorant and a little bit of cash in the glove box.
Step 2: Road food
The all important SNACKS. My number one priority (maybe after packing swimmers) is road food. Sure, you may just be sitting in the car but loading up on snacks will keep the backseat morale boosted. Also, if you’re on a mission and don’t want to stop for a meal (I don’t recommend eating anything that requires cutlery while driving), snacks will keep you going.
The options for treats are endless. I would steer away from chocolate because once it melts there is no hope. Lollies, lollypops (might keep the kids quiet!), muesli bars and nut bars are relatively mess-free options. I would not recommend chips, ice-cream, cookies or pastries (I know those sausage rolls are tempting) because you’ll be finding crumbs for months. Although you could argue that it’s a pleasant surprise you were ‘saving for later’.
Going for some healthy options will help you feel a little more revitalised by the time you reach the destination. Opt for fruits like berries, apples, bananas and grapes over bigger, juicier fruits like mangoes, nectarines and peaches. Don’t forget a plastic bag for rubbish and bring some tissues or napkins for messy hands.
If you’re travelling over a mealtime, take the opportunity to stop, revive, eat and survive. If you’re in a township, try something local and new to experience something a little different. If you want to stretch out on the grass a little, grab a sandwich and have a makeshift picnic on some beach towels. If you have no other options, Maccas actually does some really tasty salads and healthy options if you want to avoid post-burger guilt.
Importantly, take lots of water on the road with you! You’ll be surprised how quickly you can get dehydrated sitting in the air-con.
Step 3: Enjoy the ride
My mum’s favourite car game was ‘The Quiet Game”. Whoever didn’t talk for the longest got 50 cents. This was actually a brilliant idea and if your kids are as gullible as young me, it works wonders and provides much respite!
Have a few car games up your sleeve especially when travelling with children. I-spy is a classic, Hey Cow, Scattergories and counting can also keep the kids distracted, and anything that has them looking out the windows and learning beats putting on a movie in the backseat.
If it is a road trip with friends, Cards Against Humanity, Never Have I Ever, or some classic karaoke will always keep the good vibes going, but be wary of distracting the driver and save the drinking for when you hit the beach!
Also, don’t feel rushed to get there. Stop at landmarks, take a photo with a cow (don’t jump the fence), poke around antique shops in lost towns, have a picnic or grab some fruit from roadside vendors, and have a chat or walk around. You may as well explore somewhere new and get to know the way a little better.
Pack some CDs, make sure the auxiliary cord works, load up some new playlists or explore local radio stations along the drive. Sitting in silence will only make the drive feel longer and a sneaky car-boogie can actually feel really good to get moving after sitting for hours.
Step 4: Drive safely
Double demerits apply on most highways over the holiday period so stick to the speed limits, don’t use your phone while driving, watch for kangaroos and animals, drive to the weather and traffic conditions and rest when you need to.
Make sure you know where you are going or that you have a passenger with Google Maps handy, and take turns behind the wheel.
Watch fuel levels and plan ahead, because no good holiday starts with breaking down on the highway!
On top of all this, I have one last piece of advice for drivers: sunscreen up that right arm and knee because believe me, they will burn and you do not want a blistering and lopsided tan on your holiday!