Share your best roadtrip hack?

Lifehacker AU is hitting the road for our first roadtrip of the year, and we'd like your tips for making it the easiest, safest and most fun drive it can be.
The itinerary is Sydney to Gundagai tomorrow, then Gundagai to Melbourne on Thursday.
Got any tips? Whether it's caring for your trusty car, hacking your Tom Tom, or how to get the most out of your your rest stops on the road, please share in comments.


Comments

    A mistake many people make when preparing their water bottles the night before a road trip is they fill them all the way up and then put them in the freezer. It just takes too long for the ice to defrost to be of any use for thirst quenching the next day.

    A better way is to only fill them up halfway before freezing them. Then, before you leave, simply take them out and fill the rest up with regular, unchilled water. This way, the unchilled water and the frozen ice reach a happy medium very quickly and you'll have ice-cold water when you want it.

    1. Get a second opinion:

    If you're not familiar with the route, don't just blindly accept the directions plotted by your trusty GPS. As good as they are, sometimes they take you the long way around (and other times lead you down goat tracks).

    Compare the GPS route with a visual representation on Google maps. Better still, if you know anyone who lives along the route, call them and ask if they know of any shortcuts or particularly congestion sections of road along the way.

    2. Stop and smell the flowers

    Another Google tip is to use the satellite view and look for interesting landmarks along the way that might be worth a visit - lakes, mountains, meteorite craters!

    3. Take stock of your speed

    If your car has it, set the speed alert warning to just below the current speed limit. It'll beep at you before you find yourself speeding (yes it is annoying). Better still, use cruise control and relax that right foot.

    4. Health check

    Check your radiator water, washer water and oil levels before setting off. Also make sure the tyres are inflated to the correct level. This will help with fuel economy as well as overall handling. If you have a first aid kit, pack it. Fill and take a 2L water bottle, and pack a blanket or towel, they can come in very handy in a breakdown situation.

    5. Make a playlist

    Rather than trying to tackle your music player's song list whilst driving the car, set up a playlist beforehand with all your favourite driving songs, then set and forget it.

    A couple of years ago me and a my mate did a lot of driving out in the back roads of QLD and NSW to the camel races.

    One of the most simple things we did to keep up the fluids and our interest was to get a one bottle of solo and two bottles of water about the same size. Mix it into one of those big water coolers. It keeps it cold (especially if you put it out of the sun) keeps you hydrated without the sugar highs and lows. Which means to don't have to stop so often.

    When we traveled from Brisbane to Blackall we only stopped twice in a day of 1200km. Once for breakfast and once for lunch.

    One very specific suggestion would be to stay somewhere like Tarcutta or Holbrook if you're looking for somewhere more equi-distant with Sydney and Melbourne. That said, Gundagai is one of the nice towns....

    Im usually taking day trips with friends and the Mrs, never leave home without a quick change of shirts/jacket in case you fall in mud, trust me it happens.

    Set the music you want to listen to, either CD's or MP3's, also pack the first aid kit, top up the fuids and check if the car is working ok, check tyre pressures and also check the spare tyre pressure also.

    Take heaps of liquids like water and cordial, forget the soda's, they just taste terrible when not cold.

    Update the GPS with latest maps if not already done so, and also know where and plan a time when you will be arriving, long trips on the road need plenty of sleep the night before and also let someone know where you are going and for how long, just in case you bump into Ivan Milat... :(

    Enjoy your trip and don't rush, remember the best memories are always the ones you can remember.

    Mario

    There's a pasta cafe in the main street of Albury called The Green Zebra (named after a type of tomato). Great coffee, switched-on staff and fantastic, inexpensive pasta.

    The cafe next to the Holbrook submarine makes good coffee too.

    Safe driving.

    Get the top level of NRMA roadside assistance. It might cost over a hundred bucks, but when you're handing over your credit card to some seedy tow truck driver, his half-brother who runs the local "mow-tel", and their inbred cousin who won't be able to get that part from the city til next Wednesday, you'll wish you could pay five times that amount to make it all go away.

    Wet wipes with a couple of drops of peppermint oil are good for refreshing the face and mind. Don't drink anything caffeinated after lunch. Be off the road at least an hour before dusk, or you're just begging to collect a roo (or a fatigued driver coming the other way). Go to bed early - try to be asleep no later than 9pm. If you think you feel bad after spending all day on the road, wait til the next morning.

    Keep a roll of decent toilet paper in the car - you're not likely to find it at truck stop crappers, or even the local Maccas. Otherwise, those wet wipes can do double duty.

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