How to plan your long-haul travel road stops

By: Kath Heiman, Photography by: Kath Heiman

Relying on road stops and parking bays for your long-haul travel? Better options are available if you plan ahead.

How To Plan Your Long -haul Travel Road Stops

When we began thinking about buying a camper trailer, it was important that our chosen rig could accommodate long-haul travel from time to time. After all, getting away from it all occasionally demands a few days burning along the tarmac interspersed with quick overnight stops.

And we chose right. For us, our Echo 4x4 Kavango has exactly the adaptability we need. The main queen bed is always fully made-up and easily accessible from the van’s side door. From sitting inside our HiLux’s cabin – to being horizontal in bed – takes under three minutes. And most of that time is spent simply chocking the wheels and lifting the van off the towball to ease the weight off our HiLux’s suspension.

But, when we’re travelling, it’s not always straightforward to work out where it’s okay to stop to get some well needed rest. I vaguely recall a conversation some years back with a family friend who was a truckie. In truth, all I can really remember was his scathing comments concerning RV drivers lodging at roadside parking bays and how they render these sites unavailable to drivers of heavy vehicles. With this caution, I don’t really want to inadvertently stand between a prime mover and a truckie’s opportunity for mandatory rest. 

These days, technology can help a lot. There are phone apps around like Free Australia that identify locations where we can take a breather without opening our wallets. And there are also a range of websites established by state agencies and local councils providing useful information about the availability of rest stops and the conditions under which they may be used. Like many issues, the regulations vary from state to state – and the controlling authority may be the road transport authority for one purpose, and the council for another. 

Regardless of the available online resources, I have to admit I’m not great at finding rest stops when we’re on the road. I don’t like technology very much. So, inside the vehicle’s cab, there’s no smartphone since I recently left mine on the roof of a friend’s car. And when we’re steaming along a major road, the laptop computer is usually buried in the cargo bay. While our in-board GPS and hard copy maps can locate rest areas, they won’t generally tell me whether we’re headed towards a noisy roadside truck bay or a well-maintained site that a local council has established to cater for weary travellers and to bolster the local economy.

Fortunately, it’s not often that my husband and I have to deal with the vagaries of rest stops on the run. We both have a strong tendency to plan so we don’t leave a lot to chance when we embark on a road trip. There’s usually a set destination in sight and we know to factor-in the need for regular stops – whether to let our five-year-old out of the vehicle to stretch her legs, or for us all to have a sleep. While our approach to trip planning can take away some of the spontaneity that can be very welcome on holiday, there are definitely compensators.

We’ve got a lot of friends and family scattered along the major arterial roads of this Wide Brown Land and how better to break-up long-haul travel but to plan stop overs with them? Fully self-contained in our camper trailer, our arrival doesn’t need to unduly disrupt the household routine of those we visit. And these opportunities can add the sort of quality to our time on the road that we’d never achieve by stopping in a roadside parking bay.

After all, at the end of the day, the journey is sometimes as important as the destination. 

Check out the full feature in issue #105 August 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.