On their holiday road trip, this couple looks at a map for directions.

5 Holiday Road Trip Hacks Everyone Should Know


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For many, the holidays mean embarking on that time-honoured tradition of a road trip to visit family and friends or explore new destinations. Driving holidays can be exciting, but they can also come with challenges and inconveniences. Let’s make things a little easier. Whether you choose to travel inter or intra-state, here are holiday road trip hacks everyone should know…

1. Plan your holiday road trip schedule

Top tip # 1 is schedule, schedule, schedule! This can’t be overdone. Road trips in movies may have a spontaneous shoot-the-breeze feel about them but we do not advise this in actual life. Let’s stay with the times and plan routes, stop-offs and outings well in advance.

Familiarise yourself with where the towns, petrol stations, toilet stops and shops are along the way, and what the weather will be like while you’re driving through. Then plot out the best stops to suit everyone you’re travelling with.

Knowing where you’re headed on a family trip and what to expect at destinations will make for a much happier and more relaxed time for everyone. Check your demerit points situation beforehand too, just to be safe.

Here’s what to include in your holiday road trip planner:

kids running to water on holiday road trip

🚙 Destination and route

Start by deciding on your final destination and the route you’ll take to get there. Consider the distance, road conditions and any potential detours or scenic routes along the way. Having a clear idea of where you’re headed will help you plot out the rest of your holiday road trip effectively.

📆 Travel dates and duration

Determine the dates of your trip and how long you plan to be on the road. This will help you allocate enough time for each destination and decide on the number of stops you can make along the way. Consider any time constraints or specific events you want to attend during your holiday road trip.

🛌🏼 Accommodation

Research and book your accommodation in advance. Whether you prefer hotels, motels or camping sites, make sure to include the addresses, contact information and reservation details in your planner. This way, you won’t have to worry about finding a place to stay when you arrive at each destination. (More on accommodation further down.)

🌄 Points of interest

Research and note down the points of interest you want to visit during your holiday road trip. This could include tourist attractions, historical sites, national parks, scenic viewpoints, kids playgrounds or local events happening in the area. Including these in your planner will help you make the most of your driving holiday and ensure you don’t miss out on any must-see places.

🍔 Food and dining

Consider where you’ll be eating during your holiday road trip. Plan for meals at local restaurants, cafes or food trucks or pack practical car snacks and meals for the road. Including a list of recommended dining options or grocery stores along your route will help you stay fuelled and avoid any unnecessary detours, plus it will help you save money…

💰 Budget and expenses

Create a budget for your holiday road trip, including estimated costs for fuel, accommodation, meals, activities, and any other expenses you may incur. This will help you manage your finances and avoid overspending during your driving holiday.

😷 Safety and emergency preparedness

Ensure your road trip planner includes essential safety and emergency information. This may include emergency contact numbers, roadside assistance information and any necessary travel insurance details. It’s important to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise during your holiday road trip. Speaking of which, check out what you should bring along in a car survival kit.

📳 Entertainment and connectivity

Consider how you’ll stay entertained during the long hours on the road. Create a playlist of your favourite songs, download audiobooks or podcasts, or plan some holiday road trip games to play in the car. Also, make sure you have a reliable navigation system and keep your smartphone charger handy for staying connected. It’s a good idea to bring along a spare power bank for your phone, too, in case you end up broken down with a dead car battery.

Now that we're done with the basic schedule planning, let's look at the other hacks in more detail. 
A grandfather shows his grandchildren how to conduct an essential car safety check before a driving holiday.

2. Make holiday road trip reservations

Make reservations EVERYWHERE you intend to go, whether you’re embarking on regional road trips, taking a road trip to bushfire affected areas or heading somewhere different. This isn’t just limited to accommodation. If you plan to visit restaurants, museums, nature reserves or play mini golf then make a booking before the holiday road trip if possible.

This is also important when you’re travelling with pets. Some pet friendly accommodation options have a maximum number of furry best friends that are allowed on the property at any one time. Or they don’t allow all types of pets. Read our guides to Pet Friendly Accommodation in NSW and Pet Friendly Accommodation for Your WA for examples.

Is going rugged more your thing? There are plenty of spots you can pitch up a tent or caravan in with Fido and Felix. Read our Dog Friendly Camping Trips article for info.

3. Download and print out maps

Download and print your maps for the holiday road trip. We’ve come to rely on GPS but if you drive into a stretch where there’s no signal, you could find yourself in a bind! Download your maps to your phone but print out a copy too. If your phone dies and for some reason you can’t charge it, the good old classic fold-out map could save you on your driving holiday.

Print out an extra copy of the map for kids to navigate too – they might even want to mark off towns as they pass. They’ll learn along the way and feel proud of knowing where they are. If you do have kids on board for the holiday road trip, also take some time to read our top five tips for surviving family road trips.

Before hitting the road for the holidays, a family of four prepares their car.

4. Do an essential holiday road trip car safety check

Before going on a holiday road trip, pack extra batteries for your key finger-operated button (AKA fob). Service and replace any bits and bobs on the car that have risky wear and tear, like a dodgy oil filter, broken light fuses, or bald tyres and wipers.

On tyres, knowing how to check tread with the 20-cent coin check could save your life on a driving holiday. When the tyre tread wears down to 3mm, it’s no longer safe – especially in wet road conditions. Read our handy guide on how to change a tyre or fix a punctured tyre with sealant or a repair kit.

Also, did you know driving without coolant in your radiator will cause your car to heat up and once it’s hot you can’t add coolant? Keep it topped up during your holiday road trip. It takes just a short distance for a hot radiator to crack – just one reason to have roadside assistance.

Here are more holiday road trip car safety checks:

5. Pack extra holiday road trip essentials

Pack extra everything and use our car organising hacks while you’re prepping for your family holiday road trip. Extra food, extra clothes, extra water, extra everything! You never know if you’ll get caught out spending longer somewhere due to a breakdown (fingers crossed).

Get car insurance for your holiday road trip

Now that you’ve got our five handy holiday road trip tips, here’s another: car insurance.

Whilst out on a holiday road trip, whether it’s a family trip or not, your car is your kingdom so buckle up with our award-winning car insurance for peace of mind at the wheel. PD offers comprehensive car insurance that covers damage, theft, third-party liability, roadside assistance, windscreen replacement, car hire in case of an incident and much more.

But that’s not all. Choose between our range of different types of car insurance to suit your car, driving holiday and your budget. Click below to start your quote today.

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