Holidays are on the horizon once again as the majority of Australian state and territory borders slowly reopen following the outbreak of Covid-19. For grey nomads it’s a time of celebration, with their annual getaways finally able to go ahead and trips planned to the north to escape the winter chill now back on the cards.
In fact, according to a recent survey by JP Morgan, 42 per cent of Australians are going to be driving to their next holiday location. But, the team at Navman Australia, who help Aussies to take safe road trips, believe the numbers could actually be a lot higher.
“It’s a little wonder this is going to be the year of the road trip,” Wendy Hammond, general manager at Navman Australia and New Zealand said. “We’ve all been stuck at home or limited to where we can go for so long. It’s a thrill to be driving to work, let alone going further than the supermarket!”
However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before heading off on the open road, to ensure the health and safety of yourself and others.
It really should go without saying that if you or any of the loved ones you’re planning to travel with are feeling under the weather, you should stay at home, and if you have symptoms of Covid-19, get tested. There’s no value in taking away potentially seriously unwell adults or children, and worst of all you could end up spreading the illness around different communities.
You may want to visit a certain destination, but there’s so many wonderful places to explore in Australia and if you have the time and money to get away, go wherever you can. Interstate borders are slowly starting to reopen, however Victorians will have to wait a little longer before hitting the road as most states have closed their borders to the state due to the growing number of cases. Melbourne itself has also been placed back into lockdown for six weeks, meaning people there cannot leave home, except for essential reasons, for the next six weeks.
This means, it could be difficult to book and plan for a trip to another state or territory, so first consider somewhere within your own backyard. It could be somewhere you’ve been before and loved, or somewhere you’ve never seen before, but is only a few hours drive away.
Caravan parks and other types of accommodation are being quite flexible with bookings given the current circumstances, but you should always make sure that what you have booked is refundable in the event of any changes due to the pandemic. Better still, you could take your own accomodation, such as a tent, caravan or campervan, so you always know you have somewhere to sleep.
Some Aussies love a long road trip, and think nothing of driving from Sydney to Byron Bay in one hit, while others – especially those travelling with young kids – may feel a little trapped after hours in the car. When you’ve narrowed down places you may like to go, check how long it will take to get there. You might want to break it up into a longer holiday, with more stops along the way.
The best thing to do is identify points of interest along the way and places you can stop for a bite to eat. This will help ease the boredom for any grandkids travelling with you, and keep you feeling alert and ready to tackle the next part of the drive.
If you hate the idea of getting lost, consider taking a Navman with you – it will be your best friend along the way. Unlike smart phones, the GPS works regardless of whether you have coverage of not, so there’ll be no venturing down the wrong road. And if you get stuck somewhere and need to find the nearest petrol station, cafe, campsite or accomodation, you can find it in one touch.
The Navman will also make sure you don’t get pinged for speeding, driving through red lights or school zones, with a warning well before you reach them. Let’s face it, these days few of us have the cash to splash on traffic tickets!
While clothes and toiletries are essentials for any getaway, when you’re travelling on the road there are a few extra things you can’t forget. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, having hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes on hand is a must. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a rest stop to find there are no paper towels and no soap – so be prepared!
But, perhaps one of the most important things to take is some good old-fashioned snacks. Everyone gets hungry while on the road, and you deserve a treat! So, pack some lollies – and of course some healthier options such as fruit – to keep everyone happy. Plus, it’s a great idea to pack a thermos of coffee and water bottles so you can stop for a break whenever needed and not wait for a cafe to grab your daily hit of caffeine. If you can fit them in, blankets and pillows are nice to keep those stuck in the backseat comfortable.
Nobody likes to get into sticky situations while on their road trip, but let’s face it, usually there are a few speed bumps along the way! If you haven’t been away for a while, make sure to check the air in the tyres, the oil, water in the windscreen wipers and update the maps in your GPS to avoid getting lost.
It might seem simple, but according to a recent JAX Tyres & Auto Road Safety Report there are still some people who don’t carry out vehicle checks before they hit the road. Overall, the study found 87 per cent of Aussie drivers conduct specific vehicle checks before at least some long road trips, while 47 per cent conduct checks before every long drive.
“Regardless of generation, gender or driving ability, we urge all Aussie drivers to conduct thorough vehicle checks and seek expert advice before hitting the road,” April Harwood, chief marketing officer at Jax Tyres and Auto said.