This article has been contributed by one of our guest bloggers.
Knowing where to start when planning your Big Lap road trip around Australia can be pretty daunting.
But now that state borders are open and likely to stay open, it’s time to make your “Big Lap” or “Half Lap” around Australia by vehicle a reality.
Here are some tips to prepare for your 2023 big lap of Australia so you can make the most of driving our Great Southern Land.
1. Get a copy of 'The Big Lappers Guide Book'
The first step to planning your Big Lap around Australia is to get a copy of Expedition Australia's 300 page Big Lappers Guide Book.
All the information you need to plan your trip, including more details on all of the tips on this post, can be found in the book.
Free eBook Edition - You can download the FREE ebook version here.
Printed Edition - You can grab a printed copy from here.
2. Decide how long you plan to travel for
The minimum time you realistically need to do a Big Lap is 3 months which may be your long service leave.
With 3 months up your sleeve you'll need to average over 200km per day assuming you plan to do some side trips so you might be better to aim for a half lap instead.
6 months is about the minimum time you'll need to do the whole lap at a bearable pace but you won't have time to do 'everything'.
You'll still need to prioritise the places and side trips you want to include along the way.
12 months or more is the ideal time to do the Big Lap at a comfortable pace.
You won't be rushing and you'll have plenty of time to explore sidetracks and remote destinations along the way.
3. Choose which direction you will you drive around Australia? Clockwise or anticlockwise?
There are a few factors to consider when deciding which way you'll drive around Australia.
- What sort of weather you are looking to experience
- The prevailing winds
- Events you want to attend
- Road closures
- Where you start from
- When you start
- How long you plan to be on the road
For most people, the weather is the biggest factor that influences which way they travel.
If you want to maximise the sunshine & minimise the rain then you'll want to be in the top half of the country between April and September and the bottom half of the country between October and March.
For more detailed info about Australia's climate zones, read this post: Which way to drive around Australia on your Big Lap
4. Choose the best accomodation for your Big Lap
The most popular forms of accomodation for Big Lappers are caravans, camper trailers, RV's and other self contained vehicles.
The type you choose really depends on your budget and your priorities.
A caravan will give you the most comfort but limit the places you can travel to unless you spend potentially $100k+ for a good off road van.
A camper trailer is more lightweight and nimble and can go pretty much anywhere your 4WD can.
But it but does have an added workload setting up and packing up.
RV's vary from simple Toyota Hiace or Mercedes Sprinter vans up to fully customised coaches.
They are easy and comfortable but like caravans, limited to sealed or very good unsealed roads.
If you are on a budget and want to free camp your way around Australia then an RV or other self contained vehicle like a Toyota Landcruiser Troopcarrier is a great option.
Read more about free camping here: Free camping your way around Australia in 2022
5. Make sure you have the right vehicle for your Big Lap
Choosing the right vehicle is a critical step in the process of planning your Big Lap around Australia.
If you're towing a van or trailer then something that’s powerful, economical and includes newer safety features such as an SUV or 4WD might be best. That may mean upgrading to something more capable.
It will also give you the option to tackle unsealed roads reliably – and at least 30% of roads in Australia are unsealed.
If you’ve decided that free camping is the way to go, you'll want a vehicle setup that is completely self contained and very reliable so you can get off the beaten track with confidence.
Only a couple of years ago you could buy a good reliable second hand 4WD for under $30k but with the prices of things going up these days, you'll probably expect to spend at least $40k and possibly more.
Further reading: Do you need a 4WD to drive around Australia?
6. Calculate how much money you'll need for your trip
One of the first steps to planning your Big Lap around Australia is to estimate how much money you'll need to save and possibly earn along the way.
There is no simple formula that works for everyone because everyone has a different idea about how they want to do the trip.
Some people think that $1.00 per kilometre is an accurate estimate or $1000 per week, but this isn't usually the case.
The solution is to download the Expedition Australia Big Lap Budget Spreadsheet.
This simple spreadsheet will show you how much money YOU will need based on the trip you are planning.
7. Financing your trip around Australia
We may have saved up for our big lap in the years prior, but inflation is nipping at the heels of our savings which means the same amount of dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to.
Buying a caravan can run up into five figures and beyond – not counting the car with extra grunt to tow it safely and efficiently.
If you find that the time is right to be doing your Big Lap but the funds aren't there to cover it, then you may want to consider applying for personal loans or car loans. You’ll have to shop around and apply for different products.
If you haven’t got the best credit but still have your heart set on a Big Lap, you may consider bad credit car loans.
These types of loans cater to people who have bad credit – you may end up paying more in interest but paying on time and in full can help improve your credit score over time.
Either way, it gets you one step closer to heading out on your Big Lap!
Remember to ask a financial adviser before applying for loans or finance – the information here is only general in nature.
8. Get a map of Australia and start planning
There is plenty more to consider when planning your Big Lap Around Australia so make sure you download a copy of The Big Lappers Guide Book to get all of the info.
Meanwhile, stick a map of Australia up on the wall in your house somewhere and start putting pins or stickers on the places you want to visit.
Set a date for when you plan to leave.
And watch your trip come to life.