Planning your travel route and stops

Road sign - Flinders Ranges, S.A

Flinders Ranges, SA

Want to start planning your road trip and haven’t the foggiest idea how to go about it?

Below are the steps I follow when I am planning a road trip. This ensures we have plenty of breaks, see everything we must see, avoid travelling at dawn and dusk and save money where we can by taking advantage of ‘special’ nights at caravan parks. You can always do this the old school way with pen and paper, but I like to use the WikiCamps app as it is easy to use, clear to view, I can take it with me on my trip and it has thousands of accommodation options including prices, reviews and facilities all listed at the tap of the screen. Perfect!

Outback road - Queensland

Outback Queensland

Initial Planning

I focus on the region we’re planning on travelling to and write a list of all the places we would love to visit, all the events that are being held in certain locations and attractions we want to see. An example would be, if you were visiting outback QLD and were wanting to finish at Mt. Isa Rodeo which takes place over several days in early August each year.

I then go to the Trip Planner section of WikiCamps and after creating my trip, I start by entering my home location in as the first Place of interest under the Trip progress bar. I then use the city search function to find Mt Isa, Queensland and then add this as my second Place of interest under the Trip progress bar. I’m a very visual person, so this is perfect for me.

After doing this you will see a suggested route, the amount of kilometers between point A and B and when you zoom in, all the towns along the way will become visible. I then work through the list of places and attractions or events I wanted to see and check if they are on the suggested route and tweak and add them to the plan accordingly.

Wikicamps App

Initial planning in Wikicamps.

Realistic Driving Times

I try and keep the driving to under 4 hours per day as I don’t like to push my boys further than that (plus Charlie tends to start asking “Are we there yet?” after about 20 minutes!) I also want to enjoy the holiday, not be driving constantly and exhausted once we arrive. Based on driving 4 hours at 80klms per hour you can expect to cover roughly 320 klms per day.

As a guide, we try and either see things in the morning or the afternoon, so we might leave a town at 8am and arrive at the next destination around lunch time so we can explore, or we will explore all morning and leave around midday and arrive at the new town before dusk.

Banka Banka Station, NT

Banka Banka Station, NT

Accommodation Planning

Using the map section of the app I then get a rough idea on the major towns that we will reach on each four hour mark of our trip and do some searching through the free camps, caravan and holiday parks listed to come up with our choice for each night. Most profiles will include the expected cost per night which will help you with budgeting.

Instead of just looking at the major parks, check out the little family run parks and station stays to see what they offer. You might be able to swing it so you arrive on the night they offer all their guests a beautiful roast dinner for a small fee, or they might have a mini concert each weeknight for their guests.

Accommodation options, Wikicamps

Accommodation options in Wikicamps

Look at your map and calculate how many nights you will be spending on your trip and see if this works in with your allocated time off. If not, you may need to detour past areas or save a particular region for another trip. Keep adjusting your map until you have your route and stop overs comfortable and manageable. For instance, for us to travel from the Hunter Valley in NSW to Mt Isa in Queensland based on 320 klms per day it would take us just over 6 days to achieve this. This gives me a good idea as to how much time to give ourselves to explore the regions along the way and our destination without being exhausted.

Kids watching stunt riders, Tambo show

Show day – Tambo, Qld

Planning For The Highlights

See if there are any major dates highlighted, such as a rodeo or festival. Are these dates close enough together? Are they in sync so you can manage to see them all in your trip or are you going to have to choose which ones are higher on your bucket list?

Pay attention to the events and attractions you have on your list. Are these on certain nights or dates? If so add these as Notes in your trip plan on the WikiCamps app so when you plan your departure dates you can ensure you are at this place on this date, e.g. If you really want to be at a particular caravan park on a Thursday night because they host a special meal or entertainment on that day each week and your plan was to arrive on Wednesday, it might be worth it to stay two nights or beginning your trip a day later.

Once you have any major events and dates sorted, work back from the closest date looking at your nights stays so that you can come up with your departure date. Go along and mark the date of each stop-over now and ensure it all fits in with your events / attractions.

Lightning Ridge photo

Trev and Charlie like you’ve never seen them before! – Lightning Ridge, NSW

Putting The Plan Into Action

More research! Now is the time to jump online and start confirming your quotes for your accommodation and their availabilities based on your preferred dates. Depending on how long your trip is and if you are a detail freak like me, creating an itinerary for your trip will be something to consider. For our outback Queensland adventure, I created a sheet broken up into each day with where we were staying and their address, contact details and the cost per night, the attractions in the town we were hoping to see and any other relevant info I felt we needed to know. This was quite handy, especially when travelling with another family, because it meant everyone knew what was happening, they could add the accommodation to their GPS in case we got separated and it also helped with everyone managing their trip budget.

The internet is your best friend when planning your road trip. jump on forums, email or phone visitor info centers and get their opinions, brochures and advice, look at reviews.
Plus, don’t forget we’re always here to help too!

Head over to www.wikicamps.com.au and have a look around at what this amazing app has to offer. We think you’ll be very impressed with how simple it makes the planning process and how flexible it is. I love that it is updated constantly by the users of the app so the reviews are honest and realistic. It is available for use on your mobile, tablet or PC and can be used offline which is wonderful when you are out there travelling in regions where internet is a bit inconsistent. 

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