In our recent road-trip episode, we mostly talked about planning for car journeys. Since then, we’ve headed out on the road ourselves (though certainly not for the first time) and have learnt a bit more.

Last time, we discussed planning your trip, stocking up on food and drink, and considering on-road factors such as your daily itinerary and who you’re travelling with. In this episode we take our recent road-trip as a case study and examine what worked and what could have been better.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 98 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Our trip

Having decided six months was enough time to spend in any city, we headed out of Perth on a Friday afternoon with Craig’s dad and stepmother. Packing up a house and leaving on a road trip straight from your last day at work does tend to add a little stress to the equation, but the first destination, Margaret River, was enough of an incentive to make up for it. Our plan was to spend three nights in Margaret River, exploring the region before heading 400km east to Albany on the fourth day. Then we’d have two nights in Albany and drive north again to Perth, perhaps spending a night somewhere along the way. And then we’d be dropped at the airport and Craig’s parents could spend a bit more time in Perth while we headed to Adelaide.

What went well

Quite a lot went well, actually. The pre-trip planning focussed on accommodation and planning a route, but we left the actual daily activities out of the equation altogether.

There were four of us on the trip, perhaps the perfect number for a road trip, and the car was a good size – comfortable for the people in the back and with plenty of room in the boot for our bags. We pre-booked most of our accommodation, which meant we knew where we were sleeping and how much we were paying for it – accommodation costs can throw out any budget! Plus since we’d visited the websites of the places we were staying, and had discussed the choices between all travellers before booking, we all had a good idea what to expect.

Each morning we discussed what we wanted to do and planned a rough itinerary, with plenty of flexibility for spontaneous stops. We shared the driving pretty evenly among the three drivers, and stopped whenever someone expressed an interest in stopping. Plus we prepared CDs to listen to with a variety of music on them, which eliminated the problem of listening to static while trying to find a local radio station.

What could have been better

Our sat nav left a lot to be desired in almost all features of its design, and we hadn’t provided ourselves with the most useful of maps. Or perhaps the navigators just needed a little more training. Whatever the reason, we got a little lost a couple of times, but it didn’t bother us too much.

However, not knowing the opening times of local attractions did cause a little hassle – we turned up at one winery well before opening time, and arrived at Jewel Cave 45 minutes before the next tour. And there wasn’t a lot to do there to fill time. We also missed out on a couple of things because we were running out of time, but I think that’s going to happen on any trip.

On the whole, it was a successful trip, made successful by planning routes and accommodation in advance, but not overplanning things to do along the way. Since it was a short trip, this technique worked well, but planning so rigidly might ruin a longer trip.

We’d like to thank Vanessa and Vivek for their guest appearances!

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