Summer road trip essentials that will keep you on the road and on your way.
A summer road trip is a quintessential Kiwi pastime. No matter where you go or what you wish to do, there are stunning New Zealand roads that will take you there. To ensure relaxing travels free of stress, check out the tips below.
Togs, cozzie, bathers, budgie smugglers
It doesn't matter what you call them, swimming gear is the foremost essential of a Kiwi summer. Wherever you are in the country, you’ll never be more than 120 km from a stretch of New Zealand coastline.
If hot pools and thermal springs are more your thing, you’ll find many that are dotted around both islands. NZ Hotpools have a comprehensive list that includes maps, safety tips, and prices if applicable. Take time to visit any watery destinations nearby - it's a great way to relax or break up a long trip. Don't forget the towel!
Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap
Remember to pack a good supply of sunscreen to take care of your skin while relaxing in the sun. The SunSmart catchy slogan reminds us how to stay safe and healthy in the hot summer sun.
- Slip into a long-sleeved shirt or into the shade
- Slop on plenty of sunscreen, preferably SPF 30+. Apply 20 minutes before going out into the sun, and reapply every two hours or after swimming if the sunscreen is not water resistant
- Slap on a hat - the head is often the most sun-affected part of the body
- Wrap on a pair of sunglasses - eyesight can be affected by the sun’s UV rays as much as skin can
Don’t forget insect repellant as well - sandflies and other insects can be pesky and irritating.
Plan ahead and factor in travel times
Though a trip may look short, many rural roads and highways are full of twists, turns and variable speeds, which extends travel time. Take advantage of maps or GPS devices and plan exactly which route you’re going to take to reduce the chances of getting lost or off track.
Summer is also when many roadworks are being completed on highways and popular routes, as well as being frequented by other road-users. Factor these into your travel time so you can be patient on the road and not be distracted by time constraints.
Keep hydrated and take snacks
Keep full water bottles to satisfy thirst on the road, it can get hot when the sun beams in through the windows. Water is the best thirst-quencher, otherwise juices or healthy electrolyte drinks are good alternatives.
On long stretches of road, hunger can be a difficult distraction, especially if there are kids in the car! Fruit, nuts, sandwiches, dark chocolate and cut veggies such as carrots and celery are great options that will keep you satisfied.
Top tip: Keep a plastic bag to collect rubbish for easy disposal.
Keep kids content
Traveling with children can be a daunting experience. However, our kid-tested, parent approved tips and tricks will keep even the fussiest young ones happy on a journey.
- Play games like eye-spy, counting or word quizzes to keep kids alert or distracted. Plus, quizzing is a great way for children to learn about what they see on the road or enforce what they’ve learned at school.
- Repurpose a hanging shoe holder to drape over the back of a seat in front. These can be used to store water bottles, snacks, toys and gadgets.
- Install sun-shades or similar to keep the sun off the kids, especially if they want to sleep or nap.-Ensure kids are comfortable, wearing loose-fitting clothing and are secure in their seat. Provide any necessary pillows or blankets for naps.
Take time to enjoy the sights you see
Taking breaks to sightsee and explore is a wonderful part of any road trip, and helps keep drivers refreshed and relaxed. You’ll find clean, scenic rest stops and walking tracks everywhere, perfect for having a stretch and getting some fresh air.
Long trip? Alternate drivers
Driver fatigue can cause a host of problems - irritability, loss of focus, and worst of all, a high chance of an accident. If only one person is able to drive, ensure they are well-rested and alert. Stop for rest breaks, stay hydrated, and if need be, stop somewhere and stay the night to renew the next day. Having two or more drivers allows for rotation and a constantly alert driver at the wheel.
First aid kit
Whether it’s scraped knees, prickles or splinters, cuts or colds, a first aid kit is an essential in a car no matter what, and definitely comes in handy on road trips. Invest in a pre-packaged one, or collect your own first aid items. Handy items include:
Plasters of varying sizes
- Alcohol or sterile wipes
- Any special/prescription medications needed
- Pain reliever such as panadol
- Small pair of scissors
- Rubber gloves
- Antiseptic spray or cream
- Safety pins
Make sure your car can make it
There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a journey only to blow a tyre, overheat or have other mechanical problems. Before you depart, fill up the tank, check the tyre pressure (and the spare tyre) and ensure all fluids (coolant, oil and water) are full or at good levels. Consider joining a roadside assistance scheme such as AMI’s breakdown service.
Make sure your insurance is up to date
Before you take to the road, make sure your car insurance is up to date and any new modifications have been declared. Keeping you insurance up to date means you won't have any surprises regarding your policy and level of cover, if the unfortunate does happen.