Half the fun of a long trip is in the planning and especially on a wet Boxing Day at home. We use a combination of sources once we’ve decided on a destination or direction. I keep an ongoing spreadsheet of places that sound interesting that we’ve heard or read about. I also mark them as Favourites in WikiCamps so that they stand out on the screen and are easily searchable once we’re on the road. Then with the aid of maps, WikiCamps, the internet and the latest Camps Australia Wide we build the route that we’d like to take. We tend to allow no more than 300kms driving per day and we’re finding that the shorter the driving day the easier and more enjoyable a trip becomes. Driving is fun but sightseeing is so much better. Sometimes we may have to drive further in remote areas, but rarely. From my notes and from articles that I’ve saved from Caravan and Motorhome magazine we select the places and points of interest that we don’t want to miss.
I put the whole route into a spreadsheet with an estimate of the days spent in each place. This probably sounds a bit analytical but it enables us to book popular places. We hate booking ahead but it is advisable to book well in advance for caravan parks that seem to be everybody’s favourite. Particularly if you’re intending to have a long stay in say Port Douglas or Broome over the winter months.
Also I copy the websites of all of the places that we’ll visit so that we have contact details, especially if it’s a farm stay or somewhere unusual. These clippings go into one rather large Word document and that and the final spreadsheet are saved as pdfs to the laptop and iPad. The iPad goes in the car with us and can be quickly accessed as we travel.
For our much longer trip to the West Coast I stumbled upon the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia and printed their strip maps detailing the route from Port Augusta to Perth, Darwin and back to Port Augusta. These were for ourselves and our mates who were travelling with us. I was surprised how handy they actually were. They were invaluable whenever we were getting ready to change drivers. We could look at the strip map and know that there was a rest area in say 5kms where we could safely pull over. That is surprising detail considering that they had listed every single Rest Area for roughly 9000kms.
I should also mention that I like to update the Garmin GPS just prior to leaving on a long trip, so that we know we have the most up to date information. It only takes a few minutes to download the updates via the computer.
This being said, you should always allow for the unexpected piece of advice that you hear around a campfire or the ultimate camp spot that just begs a few extra days.