How to plan the perfect day trip
Wednesday 1 December, 2021
With Victorians’ newfound freedoms and the holiday period in our midst, almost everyone is itching for adventure.
Day trips can be a wonderful way to explore the natural beauty of our state without breaking the bank or expending too much time or energy planning a big getaway.
But now that everyone is taking advantage of our local travel allowances, it’s worth knowing how to avoid the stress of traffic and crowds and ensure a safe and comfortable day out.
Our park rangers have compiled a set of insider tips to get visitors #ReadyForNature while day tripping this summer. Before you go, download this handy Day Trip Checklist so you don't forget anything!
A little preparation will set you up for relaxation…
As exciting as it is to be spontaneous and see where the day takes you, you don’t want to end up disappointed if your destination is overcrowded, doesn’t meet your expectation, or if there are restrictions you weren’t aware of. Planning ahead of time can really help.
- Choose the right place – Facilities in our parks vary. For instance, are you comfortable if there aren’t toilets? Need somewhere to change a baby? Planning to have a barbecue or picnic? Need mobile reception in case you get a work call? Somewhere you can take the dog? Read up on the parks you might like to visit to see if it suits your needs.
- Explore diverse landscapes and consider lesser-known parks to avoid crowded spots. If your original destination is busy, don’t cause further overcrowding. Have a back-up plan so you can head on to your next preferred destination without the stress.
- Pick the right activity – think about you and your group’s fitness levels, stamina and abilities. There’s no point picking a 4-hour walk if you or someone in your party can’t manage it.
- Book ahead for any tours, experiences or restaurants that might be part of your trip if you can.
- Check coronavirus.vic.gov.au for the latest COVID-19-related rules and requirements.
Rise and shine! Make an early start…
During the warmer months, coastal destinations that are within 1.5hrs drive from Melbourne will be full by 10am. Your best bet to secure a spot on the sand is to arrive before 10am and leave before the hottest part of the day.
Even away from the coast, popular places fill up early, so set that alarm to beat the rush. Head out early enough and you might even get to see a spectacular sunrise while you have the place to yourself!
- If the car park is full, it means the park is at capacity, so don’t cause further overcrowding. Move on to those lesser-known spots you had lined up as your back-up plan.
- Don’t be afraid to drive a little further – it can make all the difference finding a peaceful, beautiful spot. Those willing to travel the extra distance can discover beautiful nature spots without the crowds.
- Tell someone where you’re going – This is really important, especially if you’re going somewhere with no mobile reception or heading out for a longer trip. Tell someone where you’re headed and when you expect to be back. We recommend downloading a 'Trip Intentions Form’ and reading these outdoor and bush safety tips.
Be prepared for four seasons in one day... (or five...or six...)
Summer weather in Australia can be unpredictable. Even with the best planning, extreme weather can change access to parks and sites suddenly- so you need to plan for the weather, but also plan for the weather to change!
- Check forecast weather conditions, fire restrictions and warnings, and adapt your plans accordingly- high winds, flash flooding and storms have impacted many of our sites heading into summer and this could continue.
- Some parks and sites close on days when dangerous weather conditions are forecast- including high winds and elevated fire danger. Check closures on the Parks Victoria website and the park page before you travel to your destination.
- Download the VicEmergency app and set up watch zones for the areas you are planning to visit.
- Plan when you will leave if weather conditions change, or a bushfire starts while on your trip. Don’t expect a ranger or emergency services to tell you when to leave in an emergency.
- Consider if your clothing, equipment, telecommunications etc are adequate should the weather change.
Targeting a region? Discover lesser-known nature spots nearby...
Oftentimes we fall in love with a particular destination – a favourite beach, family-friendly picnic spot or dog-friendly park – and return because of its close proximity and familiarity. If you're heading to an old favourite this summer, head to our Parks Near page to find many more nature spots within the vicinity of popular destinations. Some ideas:
- For temperate rainforests and pristine waterfalls, all within a 1.5 hour’s drive from Melbourne, check out the parks near the Dandenong and Yarra Ranges.
- For nature spots and sites to stop off at along the iconic Great Ocean Road drive, check out the parks near the Great Ocean Road.
- For places to visit and activities to engage in beyond the well-known beaches at the Mornington Peninsula, check out the parks near the Mornington Peninsula.
Leave it to a Licensed Tour Operator to plan a jam-packed day of activity…
Arranging a day trip with a Licensed Tour Operator is one of the best ways you can experience nature.
Whether it’s organised bushwalking, bicycling, air ballooning or surfing, Licensed Tour Operators do all the hard work for you, and all you need to do is show up on the day!
Learn a new skill or discover a new location, get your family together or meet new people there, Licensed Tour Operators are experts in their field and will ensure you have an enjoyable, and importantly safe, experience.
Don’t let unsafe behaviour ruin a much-anticipated day...
Regulations, barriers, signs, and instructions might seem like things intended to suck the fun out of your trip, but in fact they are there to enhance it. An eagerly anticipated trip can quickly turn to tragedy if someone is injured or worse. Some important points to remember:
- Jumping off piers and jetties is prohibited- hidden sand bars and debris can cause serious injuries.
- Swimming in designated areas decreases your risk of encountering strong currents, unexpected waves, or other hidden dangers.
- Remaining behind barriers and on marked tracks prevents damage to the environment and cultural heritage while stopping you from walking or riding into a dangerous situation.
- Wildlife is just that- wild! Even seemingly timid animals can become aggressive if they feel threatened. Please don't feed them either- human food can make wild animals very unwell or encourage them to harass visitors.
Read our visitor safety tips for all you need to know before you go.
Being in nature is better together…
Thankfully, ‘Staying apart keeps us together’ is no longer Victoria’s mantra. Instead, our rangers are encouraging you to get into nature with family or friends, whether it’s for a swim, picnic or hike, to ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience.
Heading into nature on your own can be equally enjoyable but it’s a good idea to notify someone of your plans and location before you set out for the day.
You don’t need much to have a fantastic day trip in Victoria. Be well-prepared, consider new destinations and have a back-up plan. When you’re there, enjoy the beauty of nature, keep safe, and don’t forget to travel with kindness.