Melbourne is a unique metropolis with so much to offer and if you venture a couple of hours outside the city, you’ll find stunning coastline and picturesque national parks. Many tour companies advertise day trips to these locations, which is convenient, and the guides can offer exclusive insights on the places you visit. While these tours have their merits, if you’re travelling a bit further out, or belting songs with the windows open appeals more than sitting in a stuffy coach for hours, a road trip might be a better option.
When deciding how we wanted to see the famous Great Ocean Road, my friends and I realised that hiring a car worked out cheaper and allowed us more freedom on where we decided to stop and what we chose to see. But before you grab your friends and your ride, here are my tips for planning a road trip overseas.
Consider the price
When it came to hiring a car, there are lots of companies to choose from so make sure you do your research. We found out by word of mouth, and lots of googling, that car hire company Jucy was our best bet, especially as younger drivers. Certain car rental places won’t lease to drivers under 21 and if they do there’s usually a surcharge but with Jucy it wasn’t too expensive.
It’s important to consider other fees or hidden charges you might get from having an extra driver, not refuelling the car before returning it or opting for damage insurance coverage from the rental company so read the company’s terms & conditions. Extras like a phone holder, aux cord or sat-nav also come at a price, but I’d say it’s worth it if it’ll make the journey more comfortable.
Research road laws
Although Australians also drive on the left-hand side of the road, there are slight differences in road rules which made me nervous to get behind the wheel. I had never driven alongside trams before and revising Australian road signs helped me prepare for the trip. Reading up on the local traffic laws gave me more confidence to drive down under. I’d say this tip is particularly important if you’d be driving on the opposite side of the road or having to read road signs in a foreign language.
Furthermore, you may need to apply for an international drivers permit which will allow you to drive in other countries. Here in Australia an international licence was only necessary if your original licence was not in English but, the rules may vary between countries so make sure you have the documents you need.
Plan your route
Another tip is to have at least a rough idea of the route you’ll drive and how long it will take to reach your destination. Do you want to arrive as quickly as possible? Will you need a route with service stations to fill up on petrol, and snacks? Or do you not mind the journey length as long as you’re taking the scenic route?
On our road trip we were visiting landmarks along Great Ocean Road including the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. We chose to drive along the coast following Great Ocean Road and, despite roadworks adding at least an extra hour to our journey, it was well worth it for the striking Victorian coastline. It depends on your priorities and how long you have. Due to our schedules, my friends and I only gave ourselves a day to complete our Great Ocean Road trip but, in hindsight, it would’ve been less rushed and we could’ve visited more landmarks if we’d spread it over a couple of days.
Share the driving
A final tip would be to share the driving if possible, especially if you’ve got a long journey ahead of you. Although it may come at a cost, having multiple drivers puts less pressure on one person to do all the driving. It also lets you take breaks and appreciate the scenery, which makes for a safer and more enjoyable trip.
Hopefully these tips can give you an idea of things to contemplate when planning your own road trip abroad. Now, grab your friends, your camera, and some snacks (an essential) and have a memorable trip!