A true test of any relationship.
Forget living together or investing in property as a testament that your significant other is someone that you are able to spend the rest of your life with.
The real test lies within whether you are able to spending two weeks on the road in a mode of transport that resembles a serial killers van that has been attacked by graffiti vandals.
Embarking on a successful road trip involves the following:
Break up the accommodation – don’t sleep in the van every night.
I realise that budget may be a constraint however in the outback you can easily find a caravan park that also includes cabins – these can range from $50-$90 a night and include a bathroom. How luxurious this will sound after using shared facilities and a kitchenette.
Pubs in smaller towns also offer cheap motel rooms. You will feel like you are at a 5 star hotel. Give the van a break and every few nights fork out the cash on a cheap motel or cabin – your relationship will thank you – and so will your hygiene fairies.
Eldunda Roadhouse is a good base for those heading to Uluru. It is situated at the corner of Stuart and Lasseter Highways in the Northern Territory and has a range of accommodation options including powered van sites and cabins. The pub has great food and there is even a pool and local wildlife.
Take turns driving – I have never driven a manual so all of sudden being faced with 5 gears was a baptism of fire. However splitting up the driving can stop you from splitting up full stop. A few hours stop each day is better than one person being burnt out and risking the safety of you both.
This way even if you believe your partner is a bad navigator, after experiencing using a map for yourself (or GPS) you often find yourself being more sympathetic when you mistakenly end up losing the highway. However the roads in outback Australia are fairly easy to navigate if you stick to the major highways. Stuart Highway goes straight up the middle of the country for 2,834km so all you need to do is stick the van into fifth gear and go straight.
Pack the mp3 player. Or smartphone. Prepare playlists for the drive – it helps set the mood.
Pack lots of water. For safety reasons this cannot be overlooked. Cheap water can be purchased at discount variety shops like The Reject Shop or any supermarket like Woolworths or Coles. You will be triple the price in service stations.
Stop by scenic lookouts for pictures: nothing beats local sights that are unexpected or unplanned.
Bring the Duck tape: it is like a swiss army knife – it can be used for:
- Repairing the van – our side mirror broke before we left Sydney.
- Taping torches to the van roof if the lights go out.
- Making a temporary fly screen out of mosquito net in case you want to sleep with the windows open
- Tape over the shower drain if you want to wash your clothes in the tub without a plug.
Fork out a bit extra for creature comforts in your van. My partner and I have used two types of rental vans –Spaceship Van Rentals and Travellers Autobarns – both good value. I personally prefer Spaceships as it has the added benefit of the fridge and rear awning for extra space.
Lastly, don’t overplan – sometime the best times that you have on a road trip are those that are unexpected.