If you’re thinking about going on a road trip somewhere in Australia I can tell you three things with absolute certainty: It will take longer than you think, it will cost more than you think and it will be worth it. You’ll have the freedom to go where you want, when you want and see so much more than you could from a bus window.
Here are a few tips to help you survive:
Plan some kind of budget
Australia is expensive. Gas prices soar once you leave civilization, as does everything else. Proper camping is $25 to $50 a night just to pitch your tent on a piece of grass, hostels and hotels are more. We must have spent $80 each per day with gas, groceries, accommodation and a few carefully chosen activities.
*urgent update* Just download the WikiCamps app and you’ll find all the free (albeit basic) camping you could ever wish for. You’re welcome.
Camp in comfort
If you’re camping you can bring as much as your car can carry to make your nights more comfortable. We had a big tent, blow up mattresses and pillows, sleeping bags, a table and chairs, a camping stove and a whole bunch of cooking utensils, plus a huge cool box full of food and goon.
Research your route
Australia is huge. Absolutely massive. I don’t think you realise how big it is and, more importantly, how far you might have to travel between towns. It’s good to have a rough plan of your journey before you set off if only so you don’t miss something great along the way!
I never realised how exhausting driving could be, especially on the endless roads of WA, so, first of all, thank you to everyone who has ever driven me somewhere far away. Secondly, stay alert on the roads, whether you stop for a bit of fresh air, some food, or to drink a can of Red Bull and turn into a quivering mess like I did.
Use Google Maps
You can use it for GPS, even offline once your route has loaded. You can add stars to mark where you want to go and search for anything you need: food, gas, camping, and it can take you there. However, it does get bored sometimes and will resort to giving you condescending and pointless directions in an attempt to break the monotony.
Don’t drive a two-wheel-drive car in sand
This one is more for myself as an embarrassing reminder that when a road starts to turn into a beach you should immediately stop and go back, not carry on to see what’s around the corner. We almost got ourselves free before someone felt sorry for us and towed us out.
Get gas while you can
Don’t tell yourself you’ll fill up at the next gas station, it could be 300km away, or closed, and you’ll find yourself frantically searching Google Maps and wondering how long you could survive with the water you have left before you stumble across a house with a gas pump outside that gives you 10 liters before running out.
Embrace your inner tourist
Cover yourself in sunscreen, wear a hat, pack a bag with way too many things you don’t really need and start snapping selfies. Australia has so much to offer: breathtaking scenery, gorgeous beaches, some pretty neat rocks, and you should make the effort to stop as much as you can to enjoy it all.
I’m sure I’ve missed some vitally important information, but these are the few things I learned while on a road trip with Suitcases and Cynicism author Myles, from Perth all the way to Esperance and back, and then all the way north to Exmouth, 5500km along the coast. Check out our adventures here.