A road trip is the best way to see Australia and there are many great road trips you can take. Before you hit the road however, a little planning will help you to make the most of your trip.
Once you have sorted out your itinerary, you can start planning what to pack for your Australian road trip. As far as your personal items go, we have lots of great packing lists for various regions in Australia.
On the road you will want comfortable, casual clothing. Jeans and a top or jumper will be fine for most venues in regional Australia. We also keep a couple of windcheaters in the car in case we strike unexpected cold weather.
If you are spending some time in the cities however, you may want one or two smarter outfits if you are planning to visit clubs or restaurants.
Weather in Australia
Despite our reputation for endless sunshine and warm days, it can get cold and rainy. So make sure you take note of what the weather is likely to be. Even in the outback, you need to be prepared for hot days and freezing nights.
- Our summers run from December to early March, winter is from June to August. Temperatures can vary greatly from humid, tropical weather to freezing nights.
- If you are planning a beach holiday, you will of course want to make the most of our summer months. The southern states, including Sydney and Melbourne enjoy temperatures up to around 30C (86F) in summer and around 15C (59F) in the winter months.
- The northern states and outback have extremely hot, humid summers. Temperatures can soar as high as 50C (122F). It is also the wet season, so winter can be the best time to visit northern Australia. During winter, temperatures are around 20C (68F), however can drop down below 0C (32F) overnight.
- The shoulder season from October to November or March to April may provide more pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds. Domestic flights and accommodation will also be significantly cheaper outside school holiday times.
Bedding and linen
- If you are planning on staying in motels along the way, all linen is usually provided. Most places won’t appreciate you taking their bath towels to the beach, however. So a couple of beach towels are a must and can double as a picnic blanket on the road.
- If you are staying in caravan park cabins or in a holiday home, or hiring a motor home you can often hire linen. This can however become expensive over the course of your trip. A set of sheets, two towels, a sleeping bag or quilt and tea towels should be plenty.
- If you are camping, you will want to pack a spare set of towels and bedding in case of wet weather.
Apart from your regular toiletries, there are a few little extras you should pack for your road trip.
- Insect repellant. While Aeroguard is great for flies and mosquitoes, you will want Rid if you are in the more humid areas to ward off sandflies. Take it from a local, nothing else cuts it.
- Sunscreen is a must. Choose SPF 40 and apply it each day. You will be amazed how burnt you can get through the car windows.
- Toilet paper. Our roadside rest stops often leave a little to be desired, so a couple of rolls of toilet paper will stop you from getting caught short.
- Hand sanitiser. A must if you have visited a more remote road stop.
- Moist wipes. Help you to refresh your hands and face on the road in humid weather. They can be used to clean down a dirty picnic table and we have even used them to clean muddy boots.
Phone and internet
Our phone and internet reception in Australia is pretty notorious, even with the locals. You will find many stretches of the road where you have no phone or radio connection. So make sure you have your playlist uploaded to your Iphone to plug into the car stereo system.
If you are planning to travel in regional Australia, you need your phone to be with one of the major carriers, such as Telstra or Optus. You may find cheaper plans, but you simply won’t get reception in regional and remote areas.
- You really need an adaptor for all your electrical appliances, from chargers to shavers. This Travel adaptor from Camera house was great, letting us charge everything from phones and cameras, to Ian’s shaver.
- Talking of charging, keeping your Iphone charged all day can be a huge challenge. Parlicularly if you are constantly using it as a camera or GPS. This handy powerbank was our solution to that problem. It was so small it easily fit into my handbag, so we could charge the phones and cameras on the go.
- Make sure your hire car is fitted with a GPS. It will help prevent you from getting lost in the middle of nowhere.
Other useful items
- A small picnic set is often useful when we stop for a bite by the roadside. Nothing too fancy. We take a couple of plates, a couple of bowls, two sets of cutlery, a knife and two mugs.
- Even if you are not camping a small esky will help to keep your food fresh between stops.
- Small plastic containers. Takeaway containers are sold in packs at most supermarkets and are useful for carrying leftover food between stops.
- First aid kit. A basic first aid kit is a must on a road trip.
- Always carry a good supply of water and snacks in case you do get stranded beside the road.
- If travelling in remote Australia, carry 10 litres of water per person and spare fuel.
- Ensure you have a spare tyre in good condition and a jack in case of a flat tyre on a remote road.
- A supply of plastic bags for your rubbish or wet clothing.
If you are planning a camping holiday, your packing list will be significantly larger. When camping we pack
- A tent
- A waterproof “fly” to protect the tent from sun and rain
- Blow up mattress and pump
- Folding table and chairs
- Camp stove
- Basic cooking gear. A frypan, a saucepan and a couple of cooking utensils usually do. Just don’t forget the can opener.
- Food basics. A small stock of non perishable food in case you arrive after the supermarket has closed.
- A torch and spare batteries.
- Matches and firelighters. Before starting your campfire however, check local conditions. Total fire bans often apply during the summer months in regional Australia.
Travelling in the Outback
Visiting the great Australian Outback is a great experience. However climate extremes and the natural terrain can make it a very unforgiving and inhospitable place. So make sure you do your research and prepare properly before you go.
- Most places can be accessed via bitumen roads, with some dirt roads which you should be able to navigate with a 2WD vehicle. If the signs say “4WD only” heed the warning. Renting a 4WD vehicle if you don’t need it will be very expensive in fuel costs
- Start the day early to avoid the heat, even in the winter months.
- Phone coverage can be very limited or non-existent. Renting a UHF radio with your vehicle could be a good investment.
- Always make sure you have a good supply of water, sunscreen and clothing to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays
- Unless you are very experienced in desert travel, don’t attempt a trip into the desert without an experienced guide.
- Be prepared for hot days and freezing nights.
- Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to arrive at your destination.
With a little research and planning, you will be packed and ready for your Australian road trip in no time.