There’s no question about it; road trips are awesome fun. Here are a few tips…
Take a Road Trip to Airlie Beach
Get ready for your sailing getaway and make the most of your road trip.
A successful road trip will stay with you for life. The ability to just get up and go and the absolute thrill of uncertainty; where will you sleep? Where will you eat? When will you get to your next stop?
It’s up to you to choose where to go, when to go and what kind of budget you’ll have.
Of course, before packing up your vehicle, you should get it checked out by a mechanic and make sure you are a member of RACQ or similar and have your Insurance in order. Then, make sure you bring these items along when you hit the road.
Spread your cash
If you’re travelling with cash, don’t keep it all in the same bag. That way, if you lose one bag, you’ve always got the other.
Copy those documents
Photocopy and scan any important documents – passport, tickets, hotel confirmations, etc. Give a copy to someone responsible (like your mum), and take the other one with you.
Send an email to yourself with all your details in it, like passport, flight and phone numbers, medicare card, and bankcard details and the like. If your wallet and phone go missing, you could be your own hero.
A great place to start. Enter your start and final destination, and get an idea of timing. Adjust the route and see where you can go and how long it’ll take you (you can also see if you’re just a few hours shy of somewhere you might not have originally thought of, but would love to visit). Make sure you’ve got your basic route worked out, your A to B, but don’t have every single mile written in stone. You’ve got to have room for the unexpected turns, the snap decisions and the ‘I wonder what’s down here?’ moments.
As much as you may love your phone’s Maps app, you won’t always have reception, so having a physical map or road atlas is critical.
Yes, Google Maps is great, but there’s something about a paper map. You’d be surprised at how useful it can be – both for finding out where you are, and for note taking on impromptu stops (and think of the nostalgia value, a keepsake when you get home).
Brisbane to Airlie Road Trip
First Leg: Brisbane to Sunshine Coast
Driving out of Brisbane head north out of the city to the Sunshine Coast, with a 100km continuous strip of beautiful beaches await you, including the stunning Noosa National Park. Driving up this part of the coast is a real Aussie experience as you pass through the laid-back beachside towns of Caloundra, Mooloolaba and Noosa.
Alternatively, if you have some time, head off the highway to the highland towns of Maleny, Montville, Palmwoods and Woombye which are definitely worth a visit, and the famous Eumundi Markets, bursting at the seams with art, crafts music and food then tour the quaint little towns of Cooroy and Yandina. For an inspiring detour stop for lunch at the Chenrezig Institute in Eudlo for some amazing vegetarian food at their Big Love Café and take a moment of peace in the Gardens.
Try to find the main sights you want to see, and work your trip around these. The same applies for some hotels in popular spots. Make sure you don’t miss out and book ahead!
Roads less travelled
Motorways might be fast, but you’ll miss a lot. If possible (given time and terrain), take the road less travelled. You’ll see so much more, meet the locals and venture down paths you’d never even have seen. On a similar note: take that detour! See a sign for an odd sounding ghost town or weird tourist attraction? Follow it! Now’s your chance. Spontaneity rules on road trips.
Second Leg: Noosa to Hervey Bay & Fraser Island
The drive to Hervey Bay along the Bruce Highway is 2 h 5 min (174.5 km). Hervey Bay is a hotspot for whale watching (especially between the months of August to October as they migrate south to the Antarctic). It’s also the gateway to the famous Fraser Island.
Fraser Island is a must-see with stunning beaches, 100 freshwater lakes with crystal clear waters, tea tree forests and rainforests.
Few things go together as well as music and the open road. There’s going to be plenty of time for tunes, so make sure you’ve downloaded some playlists to your smartphone (and don’t forget the USB cable). Or check out the local radio station, for some old favourites, and local news, weather and tips.
Food and Water
To maintain your energy, healthy snacks and lots of water are other must-haves. When you hit long expanses of open highway or winding back roads, there won’t always be places to stop and restock, so having protein-heavy snacks and spare water is essential. Pack healthy and non-perishable items, like granola bars or nuts, for when you can’t stop for a full meal while traveling. And, although you may bring along your own water bottle, you may not always get the opportunity to refill it, or the water you find during your route may not be the best quality, so make sure you have some bottled water with you, too.
Who knows when you’ll next be able to grab a bite to eat? Pack a cool bag – or splash out on an electric car cool box – and store drinks and snacks in case you get peckish (or in case you get a little lost …).
Third Leg: Hervey Bay to Bundaberg
This 1.5-hour drive takes you to the city of Bundaberg, famous for its rum. Over 500 hectares of parkland, historical museums and of course guided tours of the famous rum distillery make this a great place to stop off on your road trip.
Some road safety tips
A flashlight can come in handy for many reasons, especially once the sun sets. You can use it to look under the hood or vehicle. It’s also useful if you’re stranded at night. In addition to keeping a full-size flashlight in the car, it’s also handy to have a pocket-sized one with you at all times, just in case.
For many road-trippers, carrying pepper spray is not only a safety precaution, but can help them feel better psychologically, too. Since many brands come on keychains, you’ll literally have it on hand at all times.
Go down those small roads, get out of your comfort zone and explore – but be sensible. Listen to advice, always let someone know where you are and where you’re going – and don’t be a hero.
On a more practical note, keeping a few litres of water in your car at all times can literally be a lifesaver. If you have the room, a litre of petrol is a good idea too (but do make sure it’s only a litre – any more requires a fire extinguisher and specific training by law).
A personalized first-aid kit
Having a first-aid kit with you will not only help with unexpected injuries, but you can also use the contents for other things, such as Band-Aids as tape. Though you can buy one ready to go, we recommend personalizing the first-aid kit, too, and adding items like hand sanitizer and a Tide pen (for those little mishaps), and your personal medications.
Extra car chargers, power banks and a portable hotspot
Not only will having extra power banks come in handy, but so will a portable hotspot, if you find yourself really needing to get online.
As for a Swiss Army Knife, you never know when you’ll need a multi-use implement, from cutting up food to using it as a survival tool.
You may want to bring a camera with you as well, in addition to your phone, for those must–take shots along the way. Check that your camera works – and that you’ve got enough space for all your photos and videos. Extra Memory Cards are a good idea.
Forms of entertainment — from playing cards and games to podcasts and music (that you downloaded in advance) — can not only make the car ride more fun, but also help keep you busy at rest stops or off the road. Or try some of the old favourite car games like Spotto, I- Spy and my personal favourite – tearing the Minties wrapper into a continuous strip and the winner is the one who makes the longest! (Probably before your time but worth a go! Hours of fun!) And don’t forget to bring along a good old-fashioned notebook and pen, too, to journal about your trip. (Your future self will thank you.)
Eat local and stay local
Give the local delicacies a go – The same goes for accommodation: it might be tempting to stay at the shiny new resort, but why not stay at the unique B&B/kitsch motel/Mum and Dad place down the road?
Camp (even in your car)
Depending on your budget – and on your wheels – you might consider camping instead of hotels or motels. It’s cheap, easy and a great way to meet people. If you’ve got a large car or van, you can even sleep in your vehicle at some campsites. You may also want to take advantage of the laundry facilities.
A sleeping bag or travel rug & pillow
It will also come in handy for car naps, along with your favourite travel pillow. (I can’t sleep without my personal pillow, it’s a must have)
Fourth Leg: Bundaberg to Yeppoon (via Gladstone and Rockhampton)
This seaside town is nestled between two National Parks and sits at the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Nearby, Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island are renowned for great diving and snorkelling.
The journey to the relaxed seaside town of Yeppoon takes just over 3 hours of driving (longer if you stop off at Gladstone and Rockhampton on the way for a break and to stretch your legs). If you have some time the spectacular Capricorn Caves will be a very pleasant diversion.
An emergency kit
An emergency kit is a road trip essential, too. Always have this kit on hand, and include jumper cables or a jump pack; a basic toolkit with screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, duct tape and plastic zip ties; a tarp, raincoat and gloves; and rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes. These items are good for spilled food, beverages or other accidents, and also come in handy when working under the hood (i.e., when loosening caps).
We recommend having warning devices, such as reflective triangles or LED beacons. These make your vehicle more visible, especially at night, and signal other drivers that the vehicle is disabled and should be avoided to help prevent collisions.
Additionally, pack for the weather: not only when it comes to clothing, but also when it comes to weather-specific items, from sunscreen to jumpers.
All in all, you’ve got plenty to pack before heading off on your road trip, and you can likely add even more based on personal preference (not to mention all the clothes, toiletries and other items you’d pack for any trip). But a little preparation goes a long way to help ensure that you have the best trip possible.
Fifth Leg: Yeppoon to Airlie Beach (via Mackay)
This is the longest leg of the journey and will take you about 6 hours door to door. (This is where the Music, Games, Snacks and Water come in handy as there is not much on the road) Mackay is famous for being the sugar capital of the world. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants, a great marina and a nearby National Park in Eungella where you are likely to spot a platypus if you are up for a little side trip.
Staying Covid Safe
Even if we escaped getting sick from the coronavirus, we are all sick of staying at home, practicing social distancing and wearing masks. While case numbers and deaths from COVID-19 are trending downward, this is not the time to let down your guard. These are not ordinary days. These novel days call on us to make decisions with limited and evolving information. The coronavirus is still circulating.
And, if you are driving on the highway remember that you will need to stop for bathroom breaks. In the spirit of “better safe than sorry,” if you do travel long distances by car, bring your own food and water as well as a hygiene kit containing wipes, paper towels, travel soap, and sanitizer.
What will I need on the road? Consider the need for bathroom breaks, food and water, your ability to wash hands and maintain distance. Bathrooms and changing rooms are full of “high touch” surfaces, and while definitive information is lacking, early evidence demonstrates virus persistence on surfaces. You should treat public bathrooms as high-risk areas and keep in mind that many may not even be open.(Pack some toilet paper for your trip).
- Keep a distance of at least six feet.
- Wash and disinfect your hands often — and definitely after touching any shared surface.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Wear a mask if you are high risk.
- If at a park, walk or hike single file and leave room for others to pass at a safe distance. Consider going at off-peak hours and to less popular locations.
- If going to the beach keep your distance.
- If going to the pool, remember that although there is no evidence of spread through water that has been treated per recommendations, common areas require distancing, and the other usual precautions.
- You should take into account the regulations and laws in the areas you are travelling through.
Welcome to the Whitsundays
Finally, here you are, after passing through the cane fields of Proserpine, the final leg of your trip sees you pull up at the iconic Airlie Beach, as you drive down the hill, you will be struck by the magnificent blues of the famous Whitsunday Islands where the fun really begins – exploring the islands and Great Barrier Reef on your floating hotel.
Our Base Office is located in Coral Sea Marina, where our wonderful reservations team will welcome you and if you have taken advantage of our Sleep Aboard the night prior to your Charter, you will find the vessel cleaned (see our COVID policy), beds made, ready for you to relax and get a good nights sleep prior to your briefing in the morning. You will also have time to do your food and beverage shopping, pick up your snorkelling gear and buy those last-minute holiday essentials. We can arrange secure parking for your vehicle during your Charter.
See our comprehensive Base Guide for all of the information you will need to prepare for your Charter.
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