The car is loaded up, your bags are packed and you’re just about ready to hit the open road for a trip you’ll never forget. But before you head off into the sunset, it pays to remember that road trips can come with hidden road bumps. Chances are if something can go wrong, it will, but with a few handy travel tips you can dodge any disasters.

Here are six helpful hacks that will guarantee your next road strip is stress free. Put the pedal to the metal and read on road trippers!

1. Plan out pre-trip bargains

Spontaneity can be fun when you’re on the road, but it can also be a rude shock when you arrive at a new destination only to find that prices are sky high. You’re better off planning ahead. Thankfully, the internet makes that simple.

Before you leave, jump online and take a look at any local bargains available. You might score a two-for-one breakfast or find some cheap and cheerful accommodation. It also saves hunting around when you arrive, which means you can spend more time enjoying yourself!

Websites like Airbnb, Last Minute, and Expedia are all worth checking. But don’t be afraid to get on the phone and call ahead – you never know what someone might offer if you don’t ask!

2. Pinpoint your petrol stops

There’s nothing worse than running low on petrol without a service station in sight. It’s not only stressful, it’s the best way to spoil your trip! Be a smart traveller and plan your petrol stops ahead. This is an especially good idea if your road trip takes you through outback Australia.

You can use an app, drop pins on a map or just write down addresses – Google Maps is probably the easiest approach. No matter how you track your pitstops, you’ll be glad you did it.

It’s also a good idea to learn how to drive in the most fuel efficient way – we have a guide to fuel efficient driving to help you out.

BP Petrol station - Australian Road Trip Tips

3. Curate a rockin’ playlist

The single most most important part of a successful road trip – besides a car – is making sure you have the right music. A perfectly curated Spotify playlist can make or break your drive, so getting the soundtrack spot on is crucial.

Your best bet is to canvass all members of the convoy and try to include a good spread of music – something for everyone. Spotify has a great collaborative playlist feature to help you with that. 

As a backup, it’s a good idea to write out a list of radio station frequencies for your route. Radio Info has a great map of Aussie radio stations. You should also save the ABC traveller’s radio guide to your phone – it lists the frequencies for all ABC stations across the country, including Triple J.

4. Stock up on snacks

Snacks are another essential ingredient of the road trip recipe – literally. First up, make sure you over cater – it’s always better to have more than less. You also need to stock up for different times of the trip – savoury to start and then something sweet for an afternoon pick-me-up.

On a really serious note, don’t forget to bring way more water than you think you’ll need. The best bet is to buy the biggest bottle you can find at the supermarket (maybe two) and stick it in the boot. Bring your own water bottles and top them up as needed. It’s not a holiday if you’re dehydrated!

5. Test out your technology 

Before you escape, do a thorough run through with all your necessary gadgets. Have you saved your maps offline? Have you got the bluetooth connection sorted? Have you brought your phone charger? These are little things, but not being prepared can really mess up your plans, and can be dangerous if you get properly stuck.

On the subject of technology, it’s a good idea to have lo-tech backups available, just in case. It’s a good idea to buy a physical map that covers your entire route ahead of time. It’s also worth picking up a CB radio – even a cheap handheld unit will help in an emergency.

test your technology - Australian road trip tips

6. Get your car ready

This is probably the most important thing on this list, even if it is the least interesting. Every road trip needs a car, and you’ll need your car to hold up for the entire trip. That means it needs to be in good nick.

If you’re taking your own car, get it serviced before you leave, no excuses. Buy at least a small jerry can so you can carry extra petrol just in case – even a four litre one will do. Make sure your tyres are in good enough condition for the entire trip, especially if you’re planning on hitting a dirt road. Also, make sure you know how to change a tyre, if you don’t already.

If you’re taking a GoGet or renting a car, you don’t need to worry about most of those issues, as we’ll look after the maintenance of the vehicle ahead of time. Taking extra fuel isn’t a bad idea, though if you’re in a GoGet, we’ll pay for it.

Time to hit the open road

Whether you’re travelling with family, friends, or just taking yourself on a well deserved break, a great road trip is one you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Prepare for the worse, and you’ll get the most out of your travels. Enjoy!

About Tim Beau Bennett

Tim is an ex-journalist and radio presenter, and has been a professional writer for over a decade. He regularly writes about technology, lifestyle, and smart cities, and has written for news site including the ABC, SBS, and Australian Financial Review.