No trip is complete without a road trip in Australia. If you are planning to travel alone around Australia, solo driving is likely not to be one of the things to tick off your bucket list. In fact too many first time travellers do not fancy the idea of going on road trips .
While solo driving may sound daunting, there is nothing that beats the experience of touring places by yourself and solo driving is very much part of the overall experience. The truth is that driving on your own in Australia is not as scary as you may think.
There are of course pros and cons but if you evaluate it wisely and choose the best suited travel destinations, solo road trips can be a fantastic way of exploring the country.
But don't worry, it took me a while to get started with solo driving too. My fear was mainly driving on the left-hand side of the road and travelling in remote areas.
It's only on my third solo trip in Australia that I started road tripping, with a friend of mine who joined me in my adventures. We set off from Melbourne to Adelaide, over the G.O.R. Although that road trip wasn't an easy one, it helped me getting familiar with the idea of driving long distances in Australia.
What you need to know about solo driving in Australia
Meanwhile I have been on over 10 solo road trips and loved them. Every year I add a new destination and longer distances and hope one day I'll be able to drive alone to remote Outback destinations too. From my personal driving experience in Oz I have learnt a few things that I am happy to share with you today.
Here is a guide with all things you need to consider before planning a solo road trip in Australia.
Solo Driving Planning Tips
- Plan accurately your solo road trips with the daily travel distances to drive
Not too long nor too short: 100-300 km is a just about the right distance that you can easily cover on a day. I once drove for 440 km on one day from Perth to Albany and that was okay. While driving out of a city can be a bit tiring if you don’t know your way, once you are in rural areas, there is almost no traffic, roads are quite: sometimes too quite. Make sure you plan plenty of time to rest after your daily driving and possibly build in days with no driving at all to fully recover.
- Choose your road trips around big cities like Sydney or Melbourne
Hire a car from the city or at the airport and drive back to your destination in a loop. This is good because you can use the city to organize your trip as it's easier to travel from the city to rural areas or Outback destinations. It’s also less expensive to drop off your car to the same place you picked it up. On this page you can read more about 12 of the best day trips from Australian cities.
- Check your solo driving route on the map
Google Maps is the best tool because it works offline and for driving in Australia is gold. You simply need to download offline Google Maps areas onto your iPhone or Smart Phone to easily check your location whenever you want to. Be prepared that in rural areas as well as Outback regions there is no wi-fi nor phone coverage so the offline Google Maps are very handy. Make sure you also have a petrol station map for your road trip. In the Australian Outback there are not many petrol stations and you must know where they exactly are to plan them into your route.
- Start your driving route as early as possible in the morning.
Australia is a country for early birds. If getting up early is not your thing, then in Australia will need to change your sleeping patterns. Getting up as early as possible is key. Set off between 6.00-7.00 am to avoid the peak traffic hours that are usually around 7.30-9.00 . If you are planning to go hiking in national parks, bear in mind that some close at 4.00 pm and by 5.30 pm the daylight has gone. Therefore make the most of the morning hours! Sunset is usually around 5.30-6.30 in winter, add 1-2 hours in summer for Southern Australia.
Solo Driving Safety Tips
- Make sure you are comfortable with the car you are driving
Take your time to get familiar with your car. Before setting off check the car and be sure you know everything to make your drive comfortable. If driving on the left is something that worries you, I recommend hiring an automatic car. This will give you peace of mind when driving, which means not having to use the manual gear. Some cars in Australia come with both manual and automatic gear. Making yourself acquainted with the basics knowledge of automatic cars can be helpful. Always have the phone number of the car rental and in general be well prepared for your road trip.
- Driving solo implies sitting at the wheel for long hours
Make sure you have packed plenty of water and food for the journey. Depending on your type of drive, I usually take a 10-15 min stop every 100 km. In Australian rural areas there are fewer shops and with long distances in between. So, when you approach a small town, it’s always a good idea to stop for a short break for a cup of tea or simply stretch your legs. These tips will help you stay healthy on the road.
- Driving in the night or at dawn or dusk is a no-go in all Outback regions!
This is mostly due to wildlife crossing coupled with isolated roads and weather hazards. On top of that the lack of phone coverage makes it unsafe for a solo traveller to be on the road. While driving at night in suburban areas can be okay, it's always a good idea not to drive at night in Oz. Make you have proper travel insurance when road tripping in Australia.
- Drive sensibly and use common sense – do not drive if you are tired –
It seems obvious but we all tend to underestimate this important aspect. In reality it's very easy to overdo. A good way to avoid this is to set your own limit of driving km per day, once you have reached that limit you know that is time to stop. I have been using this rule for my driving a few times and it works well for me.
Solo Driving Destinations
Although driving on your own can be quite tiring and something pretty much unsustainable for the solo traveller in Australia, the most exciting memories in Australia are from my solo road trips adventures.
Solo driving is a good idea if you feel comfortable with driving on your own. As a first time traveller to Australia I would avoid driving long distances and try to gradually grow into more demanding road trips like driving in Outback regions.
There are plenty of easy road trips that you can do as a beginner, this is a list of easy solo road trips for the first time traveller in Oz.
And if solo driving still is something not your thing, there are viable alternative ways of exploring places by joining guided trips and tours.
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