Self-drive in Australia: 5 tips for a smooth ride

We’ve written many articles with self-drive suggestions (read some of them here, here, here and here!) when you’re traveling in Australia. For the first-time self-drive adventurers, there’s always that little bit of uncertainty that comes along with every new road trip.

When it comes to self-driving in Australia, there’s nothing much to worry about (as long as you drive on roads within the speed limit – they’re very strict on road safety). We offer you 5 great tips that will guide you through one of the best self-drive holidays you’ll ever have!

Tip 1: Choose the right-size vehicle

This is one of the most important part of planning a self-drive, other than the route. Depending on how long you’re holidaying and who you’re traveling with, you’ll need to choose the best vehicle for your journey.

If you’re traveling for 2 weeks with a family of four, you might need more space for both the luggage and passengers. If you’re traveling with only 2 other buddies, a big SUV wouldn’t be the best choice when a Toyota Camry would be a better fit. If you’re planning an exhilarating trip and need a powerful 4-wheel drive that’s adds to the fun, maybe an FJ Cruiser would work for you.

Ensure you rent a vehicle from a reputed rental company such as Hertz; you’ll want peace of mind when you’re driving in a foreign country. Knowing that you can rely on your car company to help you out IF you need them is paramount. Note: If you hold a Singapore driver’s licence, you do not need an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Tip 2: Stay connected on the road

Updating your status on social media is now second nature to many of us, and there are of course dangers to being too connected online. You should however stay connected with your close companions frequently. Whether they’re in another car behind you, or back home, chat apps like Whatsapp or LINE would be very useful if you prefer not to make a phone call.

It’s important to stay connected so that if anyone needs to get to you, they can. It’s also good practice – a prepaid Australian SIM card would be a cost-effective option. Get one from the airport or any telco provider such as Vodafone. Ensure you have a powerbank or extra batteries for your mobile phones!

Tip 3: Apps to help you on the road

There are various apps available to help you on the road. Waze, for example, is a great app to help you navigate. Claimed to be “the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app”, we’ve tested this app on one of our self-drive trips in Australia and we can attest to its accuracy. Receive alerts for traffic cameras, police, accidents, constructions via the app to help you plan the best alternative routes to your destination.

Unsure what the best alternative is? Waze also re-routes you automatically as traffic conditions change and calculates your estimated time of arrival at your destination.You can also try out other apps for weather updates, nearest amenities, best cafes and such.

Beyond the app, setting reminders on your phone could potentially be trip-saving! One of the most crucial reminders to set on your mobile phones is to refuel. It’s no good going on a self-drive trip when you run out of gas!

Tip 4: Pack enough food and drinks

Long road trips can make you hungry more frequently than you think. It’s great if you have already scheduled stops on the way, but sometimes things may not go according to plan. Packing snacks and drinks for everyone doesn’t have to be tough, in fact you only need to consider:

  • if anyone has allergies or intolerances
  • if anyone in the group has dietary restrictions

Energy bars, funpack snacks and water are the standard rations, but you can jazz it up with yummy granola bars, ribena packs and canned drinks. If you have a small cooler, keep the drinks cool. If you’re stuck in traffic or delayed for a couple of hours in the middle of nowhere, snack and a chilled canned drink would lift everyone’s mood!

If you’re traveling with children, remember their favourite snacks – road trips can make some kids grumpy so their favourite snacks could be incentives for good behaviour or when you’re out of options.

Tip 5: In-car entertainment

Whether you’re traveling with your family or friends, there are the two basic things every road trip must have as in-car entertainment.

Singalong music (or at least music that sits well with everyone in the car) are a must. Create several playlists of Disney songs, retro pop, dance tunes and classics; you’ll never go wrong. Of course, if you and your friends are into opera music or bossanova, that’s fine too. As long as it’s music everyone will (or might) enjoy, you’re off to a good start.

Games – from Two Truths and A Lie to Name That Tune, guessing games work best in small spaces. You’ve got to be a little creative with the games. We just hope you don’t have a Sheldon Cooper in your midst!

It’s so much fun going on a self-drive adventure, and if you’re planning one, there are several tour packages that we have to help you kickstart your holiday!

Share with us your ideal self-drive vacation and we’ll share with you some tips to help you get there!


Featured image: Great Ocean Road, VIC. © Tourism Victoria

Jetabout Holidays is a leading travel agency under the Holiday Tours Group. With over 30 years in the travel industry, Jetabout Holidays reputation as a top agent has garnered awards within the industry. Voted as the #1 Travel Agency for New Zealand and Australia (under Qantas Holidays) by Weekender Travellers Choice 2014 and 2015, you are assured of a hassle-free, personalized vacation.
Jetabout Holidays is 75% owned by Qantas Airways and is the highly-regarded travel specialist for Australia and New Zealand tours. Call us at 6734 1818 or email us at for your holiday plans!

Aussie Specialist

An Aussie Specialist who enjoy spreading love about Australia. Travel differently, be inspired on your trip to Down Under!