Everything You Need To Know To Prepare For A Self-Driving Holiday, Overseas & At Home
This feature is brought to you by Qantas, who are proud to play a part in bringing travellers together with the people they love from around Australia and across the globe.
There’s nothing quite like a self-driving holiday. The thrill of the open road, the freedom to go anywhere and do whatever you want… It’s kind of like being a modern-day explorer.
Whether it’s cruising along the Great Ocean Road, weaving down Trollstigen in Norway, or tackling Route 66 across the heart of America, the same basic rules apply. Once you have a rough idea of when and where you want to go, this is everything else you’ll need to know.
#1 Create a budget
Budgeting is the least exciting part of travel, but it’s vital. Are you planning on travelling for a week, a month, or maybe more? Are you going to rely on savings alone or work as you go? Knowing how much you have and how much you’ll need could make all the difference.
Create a rough breakdown of costs such as airfares, accommodation, car hire, insurance, fuel, food, and spending money, plus anything else you think you’ll need. If you’re going overseas, check the local currency conversion to see just how far your Aussie dollars will go.
Then, set aside a contingency fund of around 10 percent just in case anything (touch wood) goes wrong – you can’t always rely on the Bank of Mum and Dad to get you out of a bind.
#2 Plan your route, but be flexible
Once you have a budget, make a list of essential sights and then start mapping them out on Google Maps, which allows you to save maps offline and share your trip plan. This will help work out driving times, what accommodation options are available, and whether your plan allows enough time to enjoy the sights.
Most importantly, factor in a bit of extra time to allow for spontaneity.
The route you take can be just as important as the destination itself. Highways are pretty much the same all over the world, so consider swapping them for the road less travelled. Though these B-roads may take longer, they often reveal real gems along the way.
#3 Choose your vehicle wisely
Driving holidays should be a breeze, not a chore. Choose a vehicle that is easy to drive and will enhance the trip, not leave you feeling like you’ve done a gym session. Automatics will be your best friend, particularly when tackling long distances or unfamiliar routes.
And the car hire company you book with is just as important as the car. The Qantas website allows you to compare major rental companies in more than 600 locations around the world. If you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, you can earn Qantas Points when you hire a car through Avis around the world and use your points to hire a vehicle within Australia or New Zealand.
#4 Research local driving rules and permits
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been driving for two years or 20, it’s important to brush up on your basic road rules before you set off. After all, they vary massively from state to state in Australia, so there’s a good chance they’ll be wildly different in other countries, too. You don’t need to go totally overboard, but a few minutes spent on Google may be useful in the long run.
If you’re going overseas, it’s recommended you also apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP). Though not always a legal requirement, some companies won’t hire a car to you without them. You may not be covered by certain insurance policies without one, either. IDPs can be easily purchased from your state motoring association (i.e. NRMA, RACQ) for around $40.
#5 Make yourself at home
Cars aren’t known for their space and comfort, but they can be made a little cosier.
When you’re going to spend a lot of time in the vehicle, it’s worth packing a few essentials such as a small blanket and pillow, an in-car charger that will cover your phone, your camera and anything else you need, plus a few snacks and drinks to keep you going between stops.
Loose fitting clothing and sunscreen are essential, too – unless you’re working on your “trucker tan”.
A portable day bag is an absolute must, as it means you won’t have to lug your large, heavy suitcase in and out of the car every evening. Your back will thank you.
#6 Remember to have fun!
It’s easy to get cabin fever when you spend all day on the road, so make time to get out of the car, stretch your legs and explore your surroundings every couple of hours. A fun way to do this is to set yourself a “spotto” rule where you stop every time you spot a particular point of interest, a cool lookout, or a cute town that seems like it doesn’t see many tourists.
A driving holiday is what you make it. Have fun and just see where the road takes you.
Until June 30, 2019, you can earn six Qantas Points per AUD$1 spent on Avis rentals within Australia when you book through the Qantas website. T&Cs apply.
(Lead image: Jamie Street / Unsplash)