Friday, 20 January 2017

OZ Summer Trip - Part 1: Tips and Ticks to Survive a Long Road Trip

Crawley, 19 Jan 2017
My driver having breakfast in the middle of Nullarbor :P
After reading On The Road written by Jack Kerouac, I've always been fancied with the idea of having road trip. For me, road trip is the true way to explore a country. So that's why I didn't hesitate to abandon my flight from Perth to Melbourne to grab the chance of having road trip accross Australia (Perth - Melbourne - Perth) with my (gorgeous) rock climber boyfriend from Fremantle. And now after coming back from that wonderful 1.5 months of road & rock climbing trip, I'd love to share some tips and tricks to survive a long road trip.

1. Find Good Partner(s)

Since having a long road trip will cause physiccal and emotional exhaustion, finding good partner is extremely important. A good partner will make each km passed become amazing. While a bad one will make you fell like driving into hell. Ideally your (close) friend(s), sibling(s), or bf/gf might be the best option to be your road trip partner because they've known you well. But it doesn't mean that it's not worth to try to team up with stranger(s) for a road trip as written by Anida Dyah on her blog Nona Ransel and her book titled Under the Southern Stars. 

In my case, as I told you earlier, I had my Oz Road Trip with my (gorgeous) boyfriend from Fremantle. To finally agree to be on long trip with him was a quiet gambling decision for me because hey.... I'd just known him only for 6 weeks before the trip started. We didn't know how many facets each of us have. We didn't know how we could and would survive the trip and also our relationship. Would we make-it or break it was a big unknown for us. 

But well, in the end I could say to have that road trip with him is one of great decisions I ever made in my life.

2. Chose and Prepare the Proper Vehicle + Insurance

Whether it is MPV, SUV, Van, 4WD, bus, or any other kind of vehicles, make sure that your choice will suit your needs. And after making the choice, it is vital to do thoroughful check to the vehicle especially the engines and the tires. Check also the indicators, headlights, brake and interior lights by turning them on and off. Make sure the horn is working. Have a look also at the wipers, brakes, transmission fluid, antifreeze and oil. And don't forget to bring car essential kits, jacks and spare tires.  Be protected also with insurance.

For our trip, we used Ford Transit van (which we named it 'Twilight'). Inside the fan, we set up our bed, arranged containers (instead of suitcases) for clothes & wooden box cooking utensils, and a bit messily piles another stuffs in any available space. Before the trip started, the car got serviced. But... on Day-1 of our  trip we had a tire problem. The rear-left tire got flat and damaged. We had to stop and changed it. The funny thing was, the tools we brought, both lug wrench and tire iron, were not sufficient to open the lug nuts of the tire so we couldn't take the tire off. We needed a longer lever. Glad that my bf had great idea of taking the side rod of the nearby trash bin and attach it to the lug wrench so we had longer lever to remove the nuts.

Anyway, dont forget to bring spare keys. The advice might sound silly, but well.. if we hadn't brought the spare key we might just stopped the trip because due to one and another thing, we lost the main key of the van. 

3. Discuss and Make a Plan Together

Basically when 2 (or more) people decide to have a long road trip together, they must have same interests. But no matter how similar the interest, each person has their own specific expectation and achievement goals. So it is very important for each person to communicate what they expect and want to each other. Hence there's room for discussion and compromise. 

In my case, my bf's main purpose of that trip was ONLY for rock climbing in Grampians National Park. I loved to join him climbing. I keen to learn and improve my strength and skills on in but my main interest in that trip was the journey on the road. I easily get bored when I stuck in one place for too long no matter how beautiful the place it is. I love moving whether it is driving, walking, trekking or even just city strolling. I love moving, embrace the feeling of loving things without attaching myself on them, the exact feeling I get each time passing by some certain distance. 

Actually rather than climbing in Grampians, one thing I really wanted to do on that trip was to have a drive at The Great Ocean Road and visit The Twelve Apostles while my bf was not too enthusiastic about that. Due to one and other reasons, we had a big arguments about it. Glad that in the end we drove accross The Great Ocean Road to reach Melbourne for NYE celebration.

Another important thing is sharing the responsibility. Since I can't drive, my bf became the sole driver for this trip. I tried to be a good navigator (though often failed because I forgot to save Google Maps for offline use when we were outside the coverage area. I personally recommend to bring real map than to rely on that apps), a nice passenger (though sometimes I felt asleep while he was driving and other times annoyed him by suddenly getting grumpy without reason), and occasionally became masseuse (though I almost killed him once by incedentally pouring half bottle of massage oil on his back). For cooking, since he is better in it, my bf became the main cook for us and all I could offer just diswashing the dishes. 

4. Find The Cheapest Petrol Price on Your Route By Online Searching or Apps

In Australia, each petrol station sets their own selling prices. Except in state of South Australia, customers could find the cheapest petrol price in specified area by accessing websites such as RACV, Fuel MapMotorMouth, etc. Save the money by filling up the tank as much as you can in big cities rather than in small town. Bring jerry cans would be very helpful so that you can skip filling up petrol in 'unfriedly' area such as Nullarbor (in which the price would be 50-60 cents higher than average).

5. Bring music CDs

Road trip without music would be miserable. So make sure you bring enough stocks of music CDs to accompany you during the trip. Run the CDs every day during the on the road. They will stuck on your head and after days, weeks or months later when you listen to those songs, you'll find yourself transported back to your trip in a way song could transport you.

Some of albums that stuck into my head are:
Little Creature  - Talking Head (Fav songs: Road to Nowhere, Creatures of Love)
Best Collection of Jack Johnson (Fav songs: Flake, Upside Down)
Angel -  Dido (I turned up the volume for track 6, Thank You, and sing that song when I felt so much in love with my gorgeous driver. Not when I was grumpy and felt that he was annoying. Hahaha!!!).

6. Make-up Your Own Road Game

Sometimes talking and music are not enough to kill the boredom on the road especially on the long road such as Eyre Highway (Nullarbor) which total lenggth is 1675km accross desert. You need to be creative to keep each other 'alive'. My bf and I set a game called 'Sweet & Sour'. We waved to all the vehicles passing us from opposite direction. We bet 1 to 3 push-up/sit-up by predicting whether they would wave back (Sweet) or not (Sour). For so man rounds, my bf won the game but in the end I turned the table. The final score was 48 for him and 0 for me. Yeay!!!

7. Freeze Some Drinking Water in Plastic Bottle to Be Put in Esky.

Instead of buying ice bulks, it would be beter to put some frozen drinking water in the bottle in the esky. They would last longer and make you save some amounts of money. Fortunately, some hosts of ours let us put some bottles of water on their freezer to make the ice.

8. Bring Car Cooler

A car cooler (mini fridge) would be a great essential thing during on the road. Nothing's beeter than a can of cold coconut to sweep away the thirst while driving in hot summer of Australia. Glad that my bf found a good deal to purchase a car cooler from a garage sale near his house a few days prior to our trip.

9. Announce Whereabouts

Text a friend or your parents the name of the place you stay each night and which city you plan to reach by next night. In the very rare event that anything dodgy happens, it's good to have a public record of where you are. It's not nice to make your family and friends worry about you just like I did when my phone didn't have any reception for around 3 days, while on the road from Norseman to Port Augusta. I felt guilty to my Mom and Ridlo (my friend and my host in Adelaide) for making them so damn worry about me during those days.

10. Capture Tons of Picture

Freeze the moments. Capture the pics not only for instagram update but ones which preserve the memories and remind you about the trip for the rest of your life. They can be also the powerful tools for you when someday you're gonna proudly tell your great adventure to your friends, family, kids or even your grand kids.


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