Planning a Road Trip Around Australia

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If you are going on a family vacation Down Under and plan to rent a car during your stay, know that planning a road trip around Australia is not a matter to be taken lightly.

Oz is the only country on Earth to have an entire continent to itself, and while it is the smallest of the seven, it is almost as big as the United States, Alaska and Hawaii excluded.

Having a game plan is essential before hitting the road in Australia (especially when you have kids in tow). In this article, we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know in order to have a safe and engaging journey.

Target a specific region

As mentioned in the intro, Australia is a massive place. As such, planning a family road trip around the circumference of the country is not practical, as it would take weeks of nonstop driving to cover all 14,500 kilometers.

Instead, hone in on specific states and regions. Love the tropics? Fly into Brisbane and drive up the coast to Cairns.

Looking for something more temperate? Land in Melbourne, do the Great Ocean Road, and if you have a bit more time, take the ferry across to Tasmania and explore the smallest state in Australia.

Seeking adventure? Start your trip in Adelaide and drive the Stuart Highway through the Great Red Centre, hitting Coober Pedy, Uluru, and Alice Springs on your way to Darwin in the tropical Top End.

Want to head off the beaten track? Make your way to Perth, the most remote major city on Earth, then either explore the lush countryside around Margaret River or head north to the blissfully empty beaches found near Esperance or Exmouth.

Budget more for expenses than you would back home

Australia is one of the most expensive countries on Earth. Expect to spend considerably more on things during your road trip than you would back home.

A couple examples: Gasoline in Brisbane costs $1.01USD/liter (roughly $4/gallon equivalent), and prices only get higher the deeper you get into the Outback (in the recent past, prices of $1.50 USD/liter and higher have been reported).

It can be hard to find casual sit-down restaurants where one can buy a decent meal for under $20 USD, so finding self-catering facilities in accommodations and in public parks will allow you to buy groceries and save money along the way.

Also, make room in your budget for travel insurance. Finding the best travel insurance Australia is easy these days with multiple competitors vying for your business, so surf around and you’ll be able to find a plan at a fair price which works well for your clan.

Bring along plenty of water and snacks

Even in the Aussie winter, the dryness of its vast desert regions means carrying plenty of water is advisable to keep you and your children well-hydrated, and protected from dehydration should you break down in the middle of nowhere.

Packing plenty of snack foods is advisable for the same reasons: even if nothing bad happens, you’ll save yourself the grief of enduring the hunger-induced wailing of your kids when you are more than 100 kilometers from the nearest roadhouse.

Traveling in the Outback? Consider renting a satellite phone

While it is likely everything will go off without a hitch during your road trip adventure in Australia, you’ll want to plan for the worst.

If your ride lurches to a sudden stop in the middle of the Outback, you’ll be glad you spent the cash to rent a satellite phone.

It can be a pricey expense, but when you consider over 6,000 dead zones were documented nationwide in a recent study conducted by the Australian government, it seems less like a luxury and more of a necessity for traveling families.

If you will be venturing into the Outback during your trip, seriously consider renting one.

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