THE JOYS OF ROAD TRIPPING

Jo shares some of the secrets to a successful road trip - it's all in the planning

INTRO

Today I have the lovely Jo Tracey from Rambles of a Hungry Writer, as my Social Saturday guest. Jo is a fellow Aussie (although she lives on the East coast and I'm way over in the West). She is the author of several novels, is a bit of an astrology expert, and I'm surprised she found the time to write this post after spending several weeks swanning around France in an open top coupe and wining and dining in exotic locales. Then she headed off on a long drive down the Australian East Coast (the woman gets around!) Today she's sharing a few thoughts about her road tripping experiences.

PREVIOUS ROAD TRIPS

My husband and I did our first road trip together almost 30 years ago. Armed with a collection of mixed tapes we travelled from Canberra to Eden and then up to Ulladulla on the South Coast. It was just a few hundred kilometres staying in cheap motels, but it was memorable.

Since then we’ve done a lot of road trips. In November/December 2015 we covered over 4500 kms in the UK, and earlier this year spent three weeks driving through France. 



We’ve just completed over 3600 kms travelling from the Sunshine Coast in South East Queensland down to the Snowy Mountains in Southern NSW and back again.

When time is on your side, a road trip is a great way to travel. Not only do you get to really notice the landscape and how it changes from region to region, but you also learn so much more about the history and culture of every place that you visit. Aside from that, there are other reasons to hit the road:

MEMORY LANE

Our most recent road trip had us going through towns that I hadn’t been through in almost 40 years. Driving through those towns triggered memories and long forgotten pieces of trivia in a way that nothing else could have. Unfortunately for my husband it also brought back the lyrics of some of the dismal country and western songs that my father used to like to listen to. Hey, won’t you play another somebody done somebody wrong song.

As we drove I remembered the time that we got lost heading to Lightning Ridge, the day we drove across to Dubbo to pick up a corgi pup, the photo I took of The Dish at Parkes that is now all faded and orange as photos from the 70’s tend to be. I remembered that Gulgong was the town on the (old) ten dollar note, that Coolah was the original black stump, and all the words to “On The Road To Gundagai.”
The Dish at Parkes
All of those memories had been locked behind everything else that had accumulated in my brain over the last forty years.

DISCOVERY

Most road trips aren’t about memory lane – they’re about discovery. Driving allows you to get in and explore the town you’d often wondered about. It’s a chance to go off the highway and take the single lane dirt road to wherever, to find the coffee shop that sells great orange cake in a town that appears to otherwise have nothing else going for it.

We carry real paper maps – the type that you can fold and never fold back the way they should. With a real map you can get your bearings much easier than if you’re simply following the directions of Rhonda (the name that we’ve given the voice on our GPS). If a road looks like it could be heading in the right direction, we’ll take it.

CONNECTION

In the past our road trips have tended to follow stressful and busy times. The sort of times where you’ve had no time to talk to your partner, when you might have decisions that need to be made and talked through – times when you really need to be reminded of all the reasons why you’re together even though things seem really tough. 


The hours you spend together in the car gives you an opportunity to do all of that. Over the years we’ve resolved many a burning issue during a long car journey – and without the arguments and angst that the same discussion might have resulted had we had the discussion in the middle of business as usual.

I’m not sure whether I’m grateful or amazed that we still have plenty to talk about – even after all these years.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR ROAD TRIP

PLANNING

· Get that map out and decide which route you want to follow.

· Work out the approximate mileage between towns.

· If you’re towing a van check the suitability of the roads for the conditions of the season.

· Decide how many hours you want to be on the road for each day. We normally like to be stopping for the day by 2-3pm if possible. This gives us time to wander and see any sights that need to be seen.

· Build in your breaks. We stop at least every two hours and try to time these breaks with a town we’re interested in.

· Carry basic coffee and tea-making supplies. We usually travel with a thermos of hot water, a jar of coffee, some tea-bags and a packet of shortbread. This has come in handy when we’ve pulled in at a park or a rest stop.



ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD

· Book ahead – even mid-week in winter you’d be surprised how the best places in some small towns fill up.

· Trip Advisor and Bookings.com are your best friends for ratings

· Check the position of the motel on the map – you want to make sure that you’re well away from highway noise yet also walking distance to shops and clubs, pubs or restaurants. At the end of a long day driving, the last thing you want to do is hop back in the car to go out for dinner.

· Keep your foodie options open if you’re travelling in regional areas.

· We mostly eat at local pubs and clubs when on the road in regional Australia. Not only are these great value, but they’re also usually kid friendly. Some towns, however, are foodie destinations, so book ahead if you want to try that restaurant or gastro-pub that everyone has been talking about and instagramming.



PLAYLISTS

Unless you want to listen to scratchy regional stations playing somebody done somebody wrong songs, you’ll need a decent playlist. Ours is full of rock classics, a smattering of daggy pop, and the occasional ballad so I can embarrass hubby while pretending to sing to him when we’re pulled up beside trucks.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you an avid road tripper like Jo? My husband swears that I drive him crazy on long trips - I want to talk and he wants to think, I like music and he likes silence - I think Jo and her husband are more in tune that we are when it comes to the confines of long hours in a car!


Jo and where you can find her:

Jo Tracey is a Sunshine Coast-based project manager and author of contemporary women’s fiction – with a little astrology writing on the side. You can find her novels and keep up with her travels at www.joannetracey.com – the rambles of a hungry writer. When not writing words, procrastibaking or gazing at stars, Jo can be found posting way too many photos of sunrises on Instagram at @jotracey

Jo's website: www.joannetracey.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joannetraceywriter
Twitter: @jotracey_
Instagram: @jotracey



Jo shares some of the secrets to a successful road trip - it's all in the planning
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37 comments

  1. Sounds like you had fun! Thanks for sharing with us!

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    1. Hi Janet - I almost feel like I should throw a picnic lunch and rug into the car and go for a drive after reading this - now I just need a convertible to put the roof down on and feel the wind in my hair!

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  2. Thanks Janet. We love our road trips & are planning another now for in March in North Island NZ - I've done a couple of road trips through there on my own and with my daughter, but never taken hubby.

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  3. Thanks, Jo, for sharing your road tripping experiences and great tips. I've done road trips in Canada and enjoyed the long distance driving, the discovery, and connection. Thanks, Leanne, for featuring Jo this Saturday.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by Natalie. I've always been interested in one through BC - that would be mega.

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    2. Hi Natalie - why am I not surprised that you love long road trips? I get a bit stir crazy sitting in the car for too long - I need to be able to read and not get car sick and I'd be fine then.

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  4. Yeah! I strongly recommend a road trip through BC -- especially Vancouver Island! :)
    I am also an avid Road Tripper. I agree with the benefits that you've stated -- especially connection and discussion that may not take place in our otherwise busy lives.

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    1. I think my poor long-suffering husband thinks that the whole talking thing is substantially preferable to the alternative - which is listening to me sig...very badly!

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    2. My husband can't believe all the stuff I come out with on long drives Donna - I become my own version of Dr Phil and start asking him about his hopes and dreams. He turns the music up and hopes I'll get caught up in a song and leave him in peace :)

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  5. Road trips have always been one of my favorite things to do, but since my husband died... I have no one to share these adventures... I miss them.

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    1. I suspect there are still a few of those road trips left in your future Brenda - you don't seem to sit still for all that long, so I can imagine you going off on a jaunt with a friend or even solo!

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  6. Jo, lovely to see you over here. I've been contemplating a big road trip for next spring (cross country in the US). You're advice is helpful. We've never done a big trip where the journey is the vacation. It's always been about the destination. So this will be a huge shift for me (and scary)...I think hubby will be better with it. Really liked the thought of arriving by 2-3 and "being" there. Definitely a mind-shift versus 10-12 hours driving days!

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    1. I've never done 10-12 hours driving days Patricia - I think I'd probably go screaming crazy - or drive my poor husband to drink! I'm definitely only good for a few hours before a decent break and wander around - nothing like morning tea in a new place before jumping back in the car for a few hundred more kilometres!

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    2. We've done some of those long days in the past & boy it does my head in! Having the journey as part of the vacation really is the key.

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  7. Hi Jo, I am a big fan of road trips and have been traveling and writing about our home state of Florida for the past year or so. Your thoughts are spot on regarding time to connect and have meaningful conversations. There is something about being away from home that promotes clarity and freedom to explore possibilities. Like you guys, we structure our driving time and overnight stays for the most part, but we also enjoy leaving some days to chance. You never know when you might want to linger longer. Thanks for sharing some great tips.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - I think road tripping is so popular with Midlifers because there's no kids in the back needing a toilet break or asking "are we there yet?" It certainly allows for a more pleasant time and plenty of conversation.

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  8. Husby and I love road trips! There's no better way to see a country!

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    1. I can picture you and your husband cruising down the highway with some music pumping and lots of laughter Diane :)

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  9. LOVE a good road trip! And there's a tipping point between planning and spontaneity that is hard to achieve, but so important!

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    1. There seems to be a lot of Midlifers who love road tripping Michele - I asked my husband why we don't do more of them - he said it's because I'm not a great passenger :(

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  10. I'm a huge fan of TripAdvisor too, Leanne. I've just booked all my tours and museum tickets through their insite booking app. It's so easy having all my tickets on the one website and I could even change a date I got wrong for free instantly on the site.

    SSG xxx

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    1. Yes it's a wonderful service SSG. I used it for our Singapore trip tickets to the attractions we wanted to see.

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  11. Love your memory lane bit. I'm on the road to Gundagai soon - heading to the Snake Gully Cup race day in November. Oh, and the Parkes dish - did that a few years back. Very cool.

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    1. Nowhere but Australia would have a Snake Gully Cup Leanne - and on the road to Gundagai too - so much Australiana in that sentence!

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  12. Hi Jo & Leanne, I'm late to the party but at least I made it. I enjoyed following your recent road trip on social media and the photos made me feel like I was with you. I haven't done' much travelling in my own country but there is something about a road trip isn't there? Thanks for another lovely guest on Social Saturday, Leanne. xx

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    1. I loved following Jo's adventures too Sue - it's kind of living vicariously isn't it - and that might be all I'll be up to for the next decade until the magical retirement kicks in.

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  13. Love roadtripping! My roadtrip playlist is 13 hours long and still growing! Great post.

    Deb

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    1. I can just picture you rocking and rolling along the highways Deb - is there anything cruisy in the mix - or is it all rocking on?

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    2. Not sure what you mean by "cruisy", Leanne. For me, cruisy music means a great beat and yes, rocking on! Nothing too slow, sombre or ballad-y :-)

      Deb

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  14. Hi Leanne, Interesting. I love road trips. The maximum I have covered is like 12 hours, of course with a few breaks in between. Never driven abroad. All in India.

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    1. A 12 hour roadtrip is quite an achievement Pradeep. And I've never driven overseas either - we always seem to be walking or on a bus or in a taxi!

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  15. Great post! We did compulsory driving trips for holidays back and forth to Sydney from our distant rural schools. Our daughter remembers songs from that time but she was a great traveller and often slept. A lot of ABBA and John Denver and more. Last year my husband did a solo trip down memory lane to where he went to teachers' college, and where he lived as a teen and back to his first school. I was not interested but also still very anxious about travel and for him it meant he did this at his own pace.
    Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek & next week's optional prompt is: Have You Ever...? Denyse

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    1. Nothing like ABBA and John Denver for a road trip Denyse - although I've been known to throw in some Carpenters and Simon and Garfunkel to mix things up a bit - my poor children know all the words!

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  16. I love this type of road trip. It was great to follow Jo's trip as she visited my town - what a shame I was away or we could have met up! As well as Spotify playlists we love listening to podcasts as we travel. #lifethisweek

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    1. I think I'm going to try an audio book next time my husband takes me for a long drive Deb - it might keep me from talking his ear off :)

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  17. All of our vacations have been road trips as we like to take our dog. I also have food sensitivities so it allows me to bring my own food. Thanks for sharing with us at the Blogger's Pit Stop! Roseann from This Autoimmune Life

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  18. We've done lots of great road trips here in Australia. Now I'd love to do what Jo and her hubby did in the UK, perhaps in a motorhome :-)

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