Road Trip Essentials for Travelling around Australia

Road Trip Essentials for Travelling around Australia

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Taking a long drive around Australia is the dream of many. Whether you are travelling solo or as a couple, an Australia road trip is the adventure of a lifetime. Having done many drives myself, both as a couple and on my own, I have put together a comprehensive list of road trip essentials for travelling around Australia. 

Road Trip Essentials for Travelling around Australia

This road trip checklist is designed for people driving in Australia and staying in accommodation. Packing camping gear is a lot more involved than this list and there are many road trips you can take without having a tent or a trailer.

If you are based in Australia, you can click on the highlighted links to see my recommendations.

Drive on good asphalt roads in Australia
Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Having road trip essentials and other travel items will enable you to have an organised and safe trip. Australia is incredibly big and diverse, and whilst I consider it an easy country to drive in, the sheer size and climate conditions require some important considerations.

Rent a car and drive around Australia
Grampians National Park, Victoria

If you are wondering what to pack for a road trip, there are 5 areas to consider: driving items, personal items, how to manage your food and drinks on the road, what you need for packing and which travel apps will make your trip a breeze…

This ultimate travel packing list may seem like a lot of stuff but it also depends on how far you go and what your individual needs are…

My Tasmania road trip was a good experience in learning what I needed for an enjoyable journey.

Driving Essentials

Emergency roadside  toolkit

Whilst self-drive in Australia is generally good, a breakdown can always happen and you need to consider an emergency preparedness checklist. If you find yourself in an isolated area, you will need to be self-reliant and you need a fairly comprehensive road trip kit to solve any minor roadside issues.

A complete emergency roadside toolkit is a good idea for your Australia packing list. They’re not that expensive and could be a lifesaver in case of emergency. Typically, a car emergency kit contains a basic toolbox, jumper cables, a shovel, a tire repair kit, a flashlight, a reflective safety vest, a tow rope and gloves.

Jumper cables

You can also buy a few essentials separately. Booster cables are road trip car essentials in case of battery failure. On the road in Australia, it’s not too hard to flag another car down for help. You’ll need a functioning engine to recharge your battery with the jumper cables.

My Southwest road trip to Albany went without a hitch but due to the age of the car we had, booster cables would have been a good idea.

Foldable Reflective Sun Shade & Car Window Sun Shades

For long drives in the sun on your Australia itinerary, and especially if you have a passenger in your back seat, windscreen covers are a simple way to avoid the bite of the sun.

It's ok to drive on dirt roads in Australia
Mudgee, New South Wales

Sunlight is harsh in Australia. If you leave your car in the sun for a while, trying to hold on to the steering wheel will hurt! A foldable reflective sun shade to leave in your windscreen will mean you don’t burn your hands when you’re ready to hit the road again. I remember it being very useful on my Perth itinerary!

First aid kit

For any driving holidays, you should have a first aid kit tucked away in the car. Without going overboard with a survival kit bag, it’s good for your peace of mind. Vehicle first aid kits are comprehensive and usually contain scissors, tweezers, adhesive tapes, a tourniquet, bandages, wound dressings, gloves and a first aid guide.

Australia is full of small dangers and it’s a good idea to be prepared.

Flashlight

Even if you don’t have an emergency roadside toolkit, it’s a good idea to have a flashlight. From finding something you’ve dropped in a dark carpark to making your way back from the beach after watching the sunset, a flashlight is one of the things to take on a road trip.

Printed Road Maps

After all this technology talk, it’s time to take a step back in time! On a long road trip, an old-fashioned printed road map is not out of place. I like the spread of a road map, I find it easier to get a broad view of my journey. Some maps have useful indications on the terrain or a scenic route. 

I dropped my phone on a Melbourne road trip once, in the Grampians National Park, and it went totally dead… Getting to the airport without a map turned out to be quite stressful… I got there in the end but it’s now part of my road trip must-haves.

Melbourne, by the way, is one of the best cities to visit in Australia. Other road trips from Melbourne include the Great Ocean Road and Sovereign Hill.

Mobile Phone Holder

Unless you have a GPS in your car, it’s a good idea to use Google maps on your phone. In order to avoid blowing out your data usage, I recommend downloading them to your phone. They are pretty reliable in Australia but you don’t want to only rely on mobile coverage. 

Driving rules in Australia are very clear: using (or even holding) a mobile while driving is illegal, and it’s a focus area for the local police. Installing a mobile phone holder on your dashboard is a safe way to get access to your maps while driving. Whether you need maps locally or for longer drives, a mobile phone holder is one of those must-have travel items…

Multiport USB Car Charger

With the technology used in the car while driving, you may as well recharge your device while driving. A USB car charger is a cheap yet very useful device to have around for a long drive.

Whether you take short road trips from Sydney such as Orange or Mudgee, or a longer West Coast trip with a partner, it is likely you will need to charge several devices at the same time. And those long driving stretches are ideal for refuelling whatever technology you are carrying… Make sure your chargers can accommodate have at least two ports.

Battery pack

As you may use your mobile maps on a walk or generally outdoor, I recommend keeping a small battery pack. It’s also part of your survival equipment “when all else fails” in order to never run out of juice when going on a road trip!

Spare car key

I once lost my car key in a shopping centre and it was a mess… I learned my lesson there and would add it to my list of things to bring on a road trip. A car key is never that big and could easily fall out of a pocket or a bag. Make sure you have one locked away in a safe pocket…

Car laptop charger

There are many things to pack for a road trip and a car laptop charger might be a bit of a stretch but if access to power is limited, this could be very useful. If you need to recharge a laptop during your travels, you will need more than a USB car charger. These devices are designed to provide enough power to charge your laptop off the car battery and some of them can even jump-start an engine.

Personal hotspot

I try not to use it too often in order to manage my data but a personal hotspot can be very handy when you need to use another device and wifi is scarce. Be careful that it can put a strain on your battery. If you are going to use the hotspot function on a regular basis, make sure you have sufficient data available.

The East Coast of Tasmania has some nice rural roads
East Coast Tasmania

I didn’t have the need for a hotspot on my West Coast road trip itinerary but it got me thinking for longer trips…

Spare Change and Toll Tag

Most toll roads are now automated in Australia and it’s best to have a toll tag. If you have a rental vehicle, the vehicle will most likely have one and the funds will be charged to your account. In case you go through a toll without a tag, you have three days to call a number and arrange payment.

Drive along Ophir Road new Orange in New South Wales
Ophir Road in Orange, New South Wales

On a long road trip around Australia, you are unlikely to go through too many toll roads but a Sydney road trip will certainly take you through many toll roads.

Playlists, Podcasts, Audiobooks

Driving around Australia will present you with some very long stretches of road… And even on a couples road trip, the conversation may dry up after a while. Quality playlists, podcasts are long road trip essentials to entertain you on the road…

Personal Travel Items

Sunglasses

There are few essential travel items you will need more than sunglasses… The sun in Australia is incredibly bright, especially in Western Australia. Make sure you pack at least one pair of dark, polarised sunglasses that you keep with you at all times.

Prescription glasses

If you need prescription glasses, make sure you have them nearby at all times. I would also recommend having a pair prescription sunglasses in order to drive comfortably.

Blanket and Pillow

Long drives can be tiring and as soon as you feel tired or sleepy, you must stop and get some rest. Having a light blanket and pillow in the car means you can stop by the roadside and get some meaningful rest.

Enjoy the scenery on your Australia road trip
Vineyards in Tasmania

One of my Australia travel tips is to choose a lightweight but quality blanket to add to your road trip items. Don’t skip basic comfort!

Comfortable Shoes

What to take on a road trip in terms of shoes? I always travel with sturdy but light hiking shoes but on my West Coast Australia road trip, I discovered they weren’t the best for driving. For long drives, sneakers or slip-on shoes with good gripping soles are a much better idea.

Hat or baseball cap

When packing for a road trip, a head covering is just like sunscreen. A hat or a baseball cap is a very important item when travelling around Australia and you should always keep one in your car.

Take on the road when travelling around Australia
West Australia Coast

Hand sanitiser

Australia has many areas where access to water might be difficult. Aside from drinking water, keeping some hand sanitiser in your road trip necessities means you can keep your hands clean.

Sunscreen

Even if you are sitting in a car for long periods of time, the sun will get you, as I found on my Western Australia road trip. The sun is fierce in Australia and a high spectrum sunscreen is essential to any summer packing list.

Eye drops

Driving in air conditioning means your eyes might get dry. I always keep some eye drops in my toiletries packing list.

Toilet Paper

Australian roads are well maintained and I’m always surprised at how common it is to find functioning toilets in remote areas. And a lot of these places will have toilet paper! But not always… so come prepared…

Tissues & Cleaning Wipes

I always add tissues and cleaning wipes on my travel toiletries list. I’m not too much of a germaphobe but I like to be prepared for any spills. When you go on a road trip, your car is like your home, you spend a lot of time in it and it’s important to keep it clean. 

Microfiber towel

Whether it’s for personal use or to keep the car clean, a quick-dry microfibre towel is lightweight and versatile.

Food & Drink

Water

On long road trips around Australia, you will need more than a travel water bottle to put in your backpack… Finding drinkable water can be quite difficult in some places and in remote areas, it is essential to have some autonomy. I recommend carrying a large water container and a portable water filter.

Travel Mug

Driving across Australia doesn’t mean you have to forgo your beloved cup of coffee or tea, you only need to make it sustainable… This travel mug will keep your drink hot while you ride in the sunset…

Refillable Water Bottle

The best travel water bottle should be insulated, otherwise the water won’t stay cool very long!

Road trip essentials include a lighthouse in Australia
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, Western Australia

Snacks

Sitting in a car for long periods of time, you are bound to feel a little hungry at times. Or you may need something to nibble on while waiting to get to the next town. Resorting to fatty snacks and sugary drinks is an easy option but it’s worth getting some healthy road trip food.

I find that eating healthy on the road is not always easy. Fresh fruit is a good idea. The only thing to remember is that you can’t cross state borders with fresh fruit, there are bins at the border for you to toss whatever you have left.

Car Bin

When you are used to driving in a casual fashion, rubbish is not too much of an issue but when you are driving long distance, it can become a nightmare if not managed properly.

A simple solution is to have a small car bin. I’ll make sure I have one on my next couple road trip!

Biodegradable Bin Bags

Add some biodegradable bin bags to your road trip essentials list and you’ll keep a clean car all the way around Australia!

Swiss Army Knife

A classic on every backpacking list, a Swiss army knife is a very handy tool to have. Depending on how many tools you choose, this could be part of your survival kit essentials.

Cool Bag or Car Cooler

Embarking on an Australia road trip itinerary, especially in summer, means that your road trip supplies may not stay cool for very long. Having a car cooler or even a cool bag will make the journey more enjoyable. 

Picnic Set

Australia is full of places where you can take a break from your long drive and enjoy a picnic. Sheltered tables and even functioning barbecues are remarkably commonplace along the roads of Australia. A small and portable picnic set means you won’t have to always eat sandwiches and you can diversify your travel meal ideas.

Utensil Set

The best way to travel Australia is to keep sustainability in mind. Single-use plastic is banned or at least frowned upon now.

Driving in the Northern Territory is a great adventure
Driving in the Northern Territory

If you don’t have the need for a picnic set on your road trip, having a basic utensil set is a good idea and should be on every backpacking travel list.

Packing Items

Tote or Travel Daypack

Thankfully, driving around Australia means a lot of excursions and day trips, you are not always in the car! Select a lightweight daypack or tote for your daily adventures.

Small Overnight Bag

Depending on what type of luggage you choose for your road trip, keeping a small overnight bag is a great idea, as you won’t need to unpack and repack every time. 

Reusable Shopping Bag

I always carry a reusable calico bag, even when I’m not travelling. Single use plastic is now banned by the major supermarket chains in Australia so you need a solid bag to carry your groceries.

There are some very lightweight grocery bag options to add to your road trip packing list.

Car Organiser

It’s funny how quickly you run out of pockets when you need to organise so many little bits and pieces. The best road trips in Australia shouldn’t be spent looking for things or dealing with a messy car: a car organiser is a brilliant solution to keep everything you need in one place.

Packing Cubes

In my opinion, packing cubes are one of the best travel essentials for women and I can’t travel without them! They’re a great way to organise everything in your luggage. They can also be used as an alternative for an overnight bag.

The best packing cubes for travel should be lightweight with a quality zipper.

Australia has some great coastal drives
Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Camping Chairs

This may be for a road trip in a bigger car but having some camping chairs to relax in when taking a break in driving might feel like a small luxury.

Small Fold-out Table

If you are embarking on a longer trip and intend to camp or at least to have meals outdoors, consider a small fold-out table.

Travel Document Holder

Just like you organise your travel essentials, don’t forget to keep your travel documents safe: passport, copies of your bookings, car rental agreement, drivers’ licence will fit nicely in a travel wallet

Essential Travel Apps

Some online applications will make your life on the road a lot easier:

WikiCamps

Use Wikicamps to find campgrounds, free camps, hostels and caravan parks. Even if you’re not camping on your road trip, you can use this to find walking tracks, swimming holes, power points, playgrounds, fishing spots and showers.

AirCamps

AirCamp is an alternative to WikiCamps and you can upload your photos to share with the community.

Fuel Map

Fuel Map gives you the location and best prices for petrol and keeps a log of your petrol usage and costs.

Visit this colourful shower block in the Northern Territory
Northern Territory

Gas Finder

This app is useful if you are travelling with a gas bottle, this app will help you find places where to refill or swap your gas bottle.

BorrowBox

This great app lets you borrow audiobooks and e-books from libraries around Australia for free.

Polar Steps

Polar Steps helps you track your travels, share your adventure with friends and you can even create a photo book at the end!

Audible

This is the Amazon audiobook app. It’s free for 30 days and you have access to Amazon’s library.

Take a drive in the Red Centre desert
Uluru, Northern Territory

ABC Listen

Listen to the radio and podcasts with ABC Listen.

OurGroceries

OurGroceries is a shareable shopping list. 

Evernote

Evernote is the best app for any notes, lists, ideas you need to jot down on the road.

MAPS.ME

With free offline maps, MAPS.ME is very useful when you are in remote areas.

Pocketbook

Pocketbook helps you manage your travel budget and track expenses.

Google Maps

Google Maps offers comprehensive and functional maps all over Australia

Stocard

You can add all your loyalty cards to Stocard and travel with a lighter wallet!

What to Pack for a Road Trip Checklist

Now that you know what to bring on a road trip around Australia, is such an adventure on your travel bucket list?

Please tell me if I’ve missed anything in the comments below!

LesterLost is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Whether you are travelling solo or as a couple, an Australia road trip is the adventure of a lifetime. Having done many drives myself, I have put together a comprehensive list of road trip essentials for travelling around Australia.
#roadtrip #australia #packinglist

13 Comments

  1. Emma Riggs

    November 10, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    This is a very comprehensive Road Trip essentials list for travelling around Australia. We’ve got most things listed here and I definitely attest to WikiCamps being our bible. We use it not only for finding camps, but drinking water and points of interest in each town that we travel through.

    1. Delphine

      November 11, 2019 at 7:36 am

      It’s so great being able to rely on quality information when you travel, those apps are incredible in their detail!

  2. Samantha Karen

    November 10, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    Wow! If I ever head on an Australia road trip (which I hope to someday) I will definitely use this road trip essentials kit when planning. This is so concise and has everything I would ever need.

    1. Delphine

      November 11, 2019 at 7:32 am

      Hi Samantha, the list is pretty big but a lot of things you probably use in your car anyway, it’s just a matter of being organised. I hate a messy car!

  3. Neha

    November 10, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    This is one of the most comprehensive packing lists I’ve ever seen for a road trip. Good tip about bringing a spare car key, losing your keys in the Australian outdoors could be a huge bummer!

    1. Delphine

      November 11, 2019 at 7:31 am

      Hi Neha, losing car keys would completely ruin a holiday. I know my husband has a spare key hidden somewhere and I’m very careful with the one I use everyday!

  4. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    November 11, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Borrow Box sounds like a great app to have. Australia is so much bigger than you would think. Having a good supply of audio books make just make the difference between a dream road trip and a grump fest.

    1. Delphine

      November 11, 2019 at 4:29 pm

      Yes, I think Borrow Box is a great idea! I wonder what type of books both my husband and I would want to listen to though…

  5. Danik

    November 11, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    There seems to be a lot more items required for road trips around Australia and can understand this. And I would defo have that Borrow Box app! That looks so useful. Have bookmarked this page for future reference, as I plan to do a massive road trip around the island one day.

    1. Delphine

      November 12, 2019 at 7:26 am

      If you do a round trip of Australia, you do need some preparation as it’s a lot of hours on the road… At least the apps don’t take any space! Don’t forget that these are options and you can choose what you take with you!

  6. Carol Colborn

    November 12, 2019 at 3:40 am

    What a great and comprehensive list. Love Wikicamps tip. You can use this essentially for America, too!

    1. Delphine

      November 12, 2019 at 7:27 am

      I dream of a road trip across the US, I would definitely refer to this list in order to be prepared and properly packed!

  7. ania

    November 13, 2019 at 5:49 am

    Such a great post, I did drive from Melbourne to Sydney it was such an adventure. I wish I could read your post before that travel. Though i will use the tips for my next road trip

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