Ah, the open road, that great journey by car that so many of us love to take. The road trip has become as much a part of western culture as apple pie is to the US or vegemite is to Australia. As the vast freeway and interstate system began to take shape in the US in the early 1950’s and as cars became bigger and grander, post war America’s love affair with the car and the open road began. It wasn’t long before such trips were immortalised in film and in advertising. Australia too is a vast country with long highways and beautiful scenic roads making it a logical place for great road trips. And who doesn’t enjoy rolling down the windows or dropping the top, putting on some music and going for a long drive? But what makes a great road trip? To start with, it shouldn’t include chaos and worry. We all want car trips to be relaxing and stress free of course, so here are a few things to consider and a couple of things you’ll want to take along to make the journey a fun and memorable experience.
Give the car a quick once over – Before heading out on your trip, check the car’s oil and other fluids. The tire pressure should be adequate and of course fill the tank with petrol. Car trouble is the last thing anyone wants when travelling so with a few simple checks, you can start the trip off right.
A thought out route – A well planned trip includes forming a route plan so that you know which route you would like to take. Do you prefer the motorway or the scenic route? Plan which roads you would like to take and possible rest areas or sites along the way that you would like to visit. Road trips are about discovery and you can always amend your journey as you go but at least you have a rough acquaintance with the routing, road conditions and any sites you’d like to see before hand.
Maps and guides – So many travellers use GPS today that the art of map reading is quickly fading. Both are useful tools of course and can be used in conjunction with one another however maps offer a bird’s eye view of sorts, bringing the entire journey into focus. Maps allow drivers to select their own journey, a rather novel concept in this modern GPS world. With a map the driver truly connects with the road and the journey, creating a sense of wonder and curiosity that no GPS can replicate.
Music that everyone will enjoy – One great way to keep everyone in the car happy is to mix up the music that is played in the car. Everyone has their preferred type of music and any car trip becomes more enjoyable when a favourite song comes on. It’s also a novel way of connecting with the kids or teenagers in the family and can be used as a great interaction tool.
Something to entertain the kids – Hopefully kids will engage in the moment and enjoy the scenery and camaraderie that comes with a road trip. Still there are times when the kids need a diversion and their favourite music and games go along way to alleviate boredom.
Beverages and healthy snacks – Avoid the fatty snacks and treats and try the healthy alternatives such as low GI foods such as muesli bars and mixed nuts. This will help keep your energy levels up and will prevent a sudden onset of exhaustion.
Torch – Be prepared in the event you have a break down, flat tire or other emergency during night time driving, especially when travelling in remote areas. It’s not easy changing a flat or having a look under the bonnet when it’s pitch dark outside and you want to make sure you remain visible to other drivers.
Emergency gear – While precautionary, every car should carry an emergency medical kit and special gear to handle inclement weather conditions. If you’re travelling in an area with cold temperatures, snow and ice for instance, carry an extra pair of gloves and warm footwear in case of breakdown.
With these simple suggestions, your road journey should be an uneventful and happy one. Things may not always go to plan but when you’re prepared, even the difficulties can be overcome and managed. Road trips should be about the journey as much as the destination and they can provide special moments with family and lasting memories of happy times spent with friends. More than anything, road trips are about freedom, exploring the vast landscapes behind the wheel.