How to Road Trip Australia – 5 Tips

Australia can present unique challenges for a road trip due its vastness, and the huge distances between areas of urbanisation. However, you will also find well-maintained roads and good signage.  Many scenic trips can be taken without great distance required. Most of the delivery trucks tend to travel in the night time hours leaving the roads free from heavy traffic in the day. 

Just from Melbourne … The Great Ocean Road, Victoria’s south-west coastline covers an incredible range of scenery. The world-famous waves at Bells Beach or relax along the sands at Anglesea. Visit the charming old fishing village of Port Fairy and get among the buzzing arts community in Lorne. The 12 Apostles, which are craggy limestone stacks rising from the Southern Ocean, are a must-see. Great Otway National Park is along this route –  with waterfalls, gorges and lots of walks.  Also from Melbourne the journey takes about 1 1/2 hours to get to Torquay. One of Australia’s best-known surfing towns, home to both the Rip Curl and Quiksilver surfwear labels.

An easy day trip from Melbourne is Phillip Island, which lies just off Australia’s southern coast. Watching the Penguin Parade at Summerland Beach at sunset should be on your bucket list and a very large colony of seals can be seen from the Nobbies outcrop. The Phillip Island Circuit is along this route famous for motor sports.

Our 5 tips for preparing to Road Trip Australia.

Look for free additional driver packages

Look out for car hire packages offering a free additional driver. This helps spread the driving load and keeps costs down. Using our Worldwide Car Hire tab we have Enterprise and East Coast Rentals both offering a Free Additional Driver as part of the package currently. Choosing the car size is an important decision which can be helped by the car examples give by each supplier. Looking for a Motorhome rather than a hire car? Please get in touch and we can happily provide a quote for this too.

Protect yourself from the Excess

There is an excess on all car hire in Australia, an average sum is around 3,000 AUD. The excess is the maximum you are charged if the car is damaged or stolen. You can cover this excess to protect yourself in a variety of ways. Firstly, you can purchase a stand alone top-up car insurance package. For a longer rental, at around £50, this is most likely the most cost effective way to go. Secondly, look out for Guaranteed Excess Refund packages in the results. These cover the entire rental and all drivers. You claim back the excess after your return. Thirdly, most suppliers will allow you to pay an additional sum on arrival to reduce your excess. This is a daily amount with VAT on top. This is usually the most expensive way to protect the excess and reduce exposure.

A bonus of the stand alone policy is that it also covers costs associated with towing, punctures etc.  Therefore you enhance your cover for roadside assistance from the basic mechanical cover included in the package. We tend to think of this cover as travel insurance, but for car hire. Speaking of travel insurance, you will need to ensure that you have a good policy in place. If you were to be in a road accident, it is your travel insurance that takes care of you and your belongings. The car hire insurance does not cover the people in the car or your luggage. Whether in a road accident or simply a mechanical breakdown, the emergency number of your supplier will be on documents in the car. Usually these are held in the glove compartment. The emergency number will also be on the jacket of your rental agreement.

Get proper navigation assistance

Mobile phone coverage can be spotty in the vast open spaces of Australia, away from the towns and cities. Hence phone apps such as Google maps may not be sufficient for safe navigation. It is well documented that tourists can get disorientated and put themselves in danger quite quickly without proper navigation. GPS devices will keep you on the right route. We can request for a GPS for your reservation once it is made. Daily costs are around $10 – 15 AUD depending on supplier. Some suppliers, like Thrifty, have a monthly cap of $110 AUD. Sometimes an offer will include a free GPS, so those are worth looking out for. We also recommend buying paper maps if you plan to travel anywhere very remote on your road trip of Australia.

Many travellers also purchase pre-paid sims on the local networks for their road trip. There are three network providers in Australia with varying coverage. Telstra has the most complete coverage. Whilst it’s sims are generally more expensive than other providers, this could pay off if you plan to be remote.

Keep it full

This applies as much to fuel as it does devices. Service stations can be many miles apart between urban areas. It is well worth adopting a policy of filling up every time you see one when on a long drive between destinations. Likewise with gadgets, keep your GPS plugged in and your phone fully charged. That way, if you stop in the bush to take in the sights you are doing so with fully charged equipment! Dual USB chargers can be cheaply purchased for small devices like phones and tablets. A serious road tripper may want to invest in an inverter to charge larger items like laptops or for camping equipment.

Road Trip Essentials

If your road trip is through remote areas, you must take sensible precautions. For large parts of your journey you are likely to be several hours from facilities. Carry a first-aid kit in the car. Likewise, a torch with full batteries is sensible. A UV window shade is really helpful to reduce the heat in the car when parked up. It can double up as a large sun visor for side windows if necessary!  Always keep plenty of fresh water in the car too along with some good snacks. In the event of a breakdown you may have to wait some hours for recovery if you are remote so snacks and water will help. As we mention above, the emergency number will be on your rental agreement.