Our top tips for planning your Christmas road trip
Caravanning over the Christmas holidays is one of the great Aussie traditions. Many of us have treasured memories of loading up the rig and hitting the road to enjoy sunshine and celebration.
Planning a Christmas escape does take a little forward planning to get right. And with the silly season just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start getting organised.
Here are our tips for preparing the perfect summer caravanning adventure.
Plan your route
Picture this. The car and caravan are packed within an inch of their life. You’ve been driving all day, the sun is setting and you’ve just discovered the road to your destination is closed. You’re hungry, tired and there’s an onslaught of ‘are we there yet?’ coming from the back seat.
Nobody wants that.
So, if you’re heading out bush or visiting somewhere new, it’s a good idea to map your route in advance. It’s easy to underestimate how long it can take to get somewhere. And we often forget to make the most of the journey.
Think about who you’re travelling with and what sort of holiday you want.
Instead of making a beeline for your destination, maybe you’d like to stop and see the sights or experience some local culture? If you’re travelling with kids, it can be helpful to break up long drives with a lunch or playground stop.
Take the time to plot the route to your destination, highlighting fuel and pit stops along the way. And head online to check road conditions, road closures and weather forecasts that might affect your trip.
Prepare your vehicle
Sadly, most of us don’t get to tour on holiday as much as we’d like! Caravans can sit untouched for longer than you might remember, sometimes uncovered and exposed to the elements.
That’s why it’s important to check your vehicle and caravan for any maintenance issues before you head off. If your vehicle is due for a major service, book it in now before your mechanic disappears on annual leave.
Some of the things you should do include:
- Clean away any rust, water and mould and check for wasp or ant infestations.
- Check the condition of your tyres, both the tread, inner and outer walls, and pressure.
- Test the brakes on your caravan and towing vehicle.
- Check the coupling, safety chains and jockey wheel are in good condition.
- Remove and inspect bearings.
- Check the interior lights and both 240-volt and 12-volt electrics are working.
- Check the water pumps and drains are clear and free-flowing.
- Check the toilet operates and the cassette is emptied.
- Check the fire extinguisher is in good condition and not expired.
- Check all windows, cupboards and fridges close securely.
Sort your supplies
It’s amazing how much you have to think about before you hit the road! And how much ‘stuff’ you need to buy and pack.
Make things easier for yourself by creating a checklist. Work out what you’ll take from home, what you need to buy in advance and what you need to pick up on the way or at your destination.
Besides food, toiletries and clothing, you’ll also need to consider the following:
- Fire extinguisher.
- Wheel Chocks.
- Caravan jack.
- Towing mirrors.
- Solar power panels.
- Backup generator and fuel.
- Spare tyre and fan belt.
- Electrical and gaffer tape.
- Extra coolant.
- Gear and engine oils.
- Toolkit, including nuts, bolts, screws, wire, plastic weld and superglue.
- Firewood, firelighters and matches.
- Gas bottles.
- Drinking water.
- Spare light bulbs and tubes.
- Toilet chemicals.
- Cleaning supplies and garbage bags.
- Esky (don’t forget the drinks!)
- Portable BBQ.
- Camp chairs.
- Portable speakers and chargers.
- Solar fairy lights.
- First-aid kit.
- Mosquito repellant.
If you’re travelling with friends, consider sharing some common resources like barbecues or gazebos to make the pack load a little lighter.
Just because you’re caravanning, doesn’t mean you have to skip the Christmas festivities!
Come up with a Christmas feast menu that’s simple and easy but still feels special. There are plenty of recipes that can be cooked on your stove top, barbeque or a camp oven (just make sure to check fire bans in your area).
Swap the usual roast meats and pudding with kebabs, damper and salads topped off with a crisp Christmas cocktail. Or if you’re caravanning near the ocean or river, why not try your luck at catching some fresh seafood?
Make sure your fridges and eskies are stocked with plenty of ice, drinks and slices of cold fruit.
And don’t forget the decorations! Wrap a nearby tree in tinsel, hang a few baubles and play some Christmas tunes in the lead up to the big day.
No matter how keen you are to get on holidays, it’s not worth rushing on the road. During peak holiday periods, there are thousands of vehicles making long-distance or highway driving more challenging.
So, take your time. Try leaving early in the day to avoid traffic. Or take the back roads and enjoy a scenic drive on your way.
Have a safe Christmas. Happy touring!
It goes without saying, the most important thing to remember is to relax, indulge and spend time with family and friends. After all, isn’t that what an Aussie Christmas is all about?