Road tripping with pets

Dogs in car, secured.A family road trip wouldn’t be the same without mans’ best friend. If you’re planning on hitting the road with your pet, there are a few things you need to know before you set off:

  1. The law. In all states across Australia, it is an offence to drive with your pet on your lap and if on a motorbike, your pet mustn’t ride between the handlebars and the rider. Also, fines can exceed $400 and you can lose three points if caught and if an animal is injured as a result of being unrestrained, the fines and penalties increase dramatically under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, including jail time.
  2. Safety is paramount. Not only is it illegal for pets to sit on drivers’ laps, it also isn’t safe, for you or your pet. Pet restraints are highly recommended by all authorities. You can find out more about restraints here.
  3. Head to the vet and get any new vaccinations that are needed and the ok that your pet is healthy enough to travel.
  4. Ensure you book pet friendly accommodation and that you will spend plenty of time with them there to make them feel at home.
  5. Get your pet microchipped and/or update your contact details before you take off. Also, make sure your microchip register is recognised nationally if travelling interstate.
  6. Check your Road Assist membership level. If you’re an NRMA Premium Care member, you automatically get Pet Plus coverage which includes pet transportation, access to vets and an individually numbered pet tag to help return your pet safely. You can even buy a cute pet tag linked to your NRMA membership number.
  7. Get your pet used to car travel before embarking on a long trip. Take a few short trips first.
  8. Keep your pet’s things separate for easy access during the road trip – bowls, food, water, leash, toys, plastic bags and any medications should all be within easy access.
  9. Never leave your pet unattended in your car, especially on a hot day. NRMA rescued 1,500 pets from cars over the last 12 months. Keep these tips in mind to avoid accidental lock-ins.
  10. Stop for plenty of toilet breaks. Road trips can be exciting for your pet and with excitement can come accidents. Stop more frequently than you normally would.
  11. As tough as it is, don’t let your pet ride with its head out the window as they can risk being hit by moving objects, or worse, falling out of the car.

Do you have any tips to add? How do you find travelling with pets?

Caravanning with pets? Read our guide.

Find out more about Pet Plus from The NRMA.

11 Things to Bring When Travelling With Young Kids

Father-of-three and editor of Australian Caravan+RV magazine shares his essential packing list. 

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PREPARE YOURSELF: Travelling with kids, especially on long drives, can be a daunting thing for new, and even ‘experienced’ parents. It doesn’t need to be an ordeal if you prepare, though.

1. Patience – This is the number one thing you’ll need on long drives with young kids. They’re not built for long periods restrained to furniture. Like anything, kids need to learn to travel well – you need to spend time training them to be good at it. In the beginning, your kids will complain, get grumpy, hit each other and complain some more. Just remember who the adult is, and you’ll get through it. They might, too.

2. Toys – A steady supply of your kids’ favourite toys are essential, especially if they’re younger. A word of note – kids will drop toys and they’ll fall on the floor and under a seat and no one will be able to reach them. Life’s hard, it’s a lesson they should learn young. Avoid taking balls or any small toys that can roll under the seat and under the brake or accelerator.

*Information on Child Restraints including installation by NRMA car servicing*

3. Food and drink – It’s really hard to say ‘Are we there yet?’ or cry about that dropped toy with a milk arrowroot shoved in your gob. Plenty of people say it should just be healthy snacks, but if long drives are only an occasional activity, then a few treats will keep you all happy for far longer.

4. A rubbish and crumb management plan – Kids are messy eaters. Of any and all food you give them, a significant amount will end up under their booster seats, stuck to their pants and spilt on the floor. Like you’re painting a house, use drop sheets or towels to collect the mess and you can just shake it out at critical mass.

5. Baby wipes – I’m actually not sure if these are more or less important than patience. You’ll need both in excess on any long trip.

6. Your singing voice – Whether you have a good signing voice or not, you’ll need to warm those vocal chords. Be it to sing the time-honoured nursery rhymes or belt out the latest Taylor Swift single, singing is a sure fire way to prevent your kids fighting and screaming for at least a few minutes.

7. Witty answers to the question, ‘Are we there yet?’ – These won’t help the kids travel better – kids generally don’t get sarcasm – but it will keep you sane(ish).

8. Paper and pencils – All kids love drawing, so this is an excellent way for them to pass time in the car. A word of warning – like food and toys, they’ll drop their favourite colour pencil and then tell you their artwork and life is ruined. Bring spares. And don’t let them at it too long if they’re likely to get carsick – that’s the sort of abstract artwork no-one wants to critique.

9. Books – Whatever your kids’ age, they’ll love either being read, or reading stories themselves. Be that audio books e-books or actual paper ones, time spent in story is time well spent.

10. Boredom – You actually don’t need to bring boredom, it’ll come along invited or not. Boredom is actually a great thing for kids (and adults). It gives kids an opportunity to develop problem solving skills (like ‘How do I stop being bored?’) and is really important to emotional development.

11. Tablets, smart phones and gaming devices – I’ve purposely put these last – they should be a last resort. Tablets and smart devices inhibit creativity and imagination, and that’s not what road trips are about. Put limits on how long they can be used for (set the timer, if you need to) and set a good example if you’re the passenger (and driver!) – don’t look at yours the whole trip.

Do you have any tips to share when travelling with kids? 

NRMA is committed to keeping yourself and your children safe on the road. If you are travelling, make sure you are covered with Premium Care membership for total peace of mind.

Every NRMA car servicing workshop is an authorised child restraint installation station. Services are available to all Members and non-Members.

For more travel tips, tools and destination ideas check out Australian Caravan+RV magazine, the Aussie caravan and travel bible that’s just like the trusty friend who knows all the best campsites, has all the right tools – and always brings the drinks.

Top 5 things to see at the 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival

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The 24th annual Parkes Elvis Festival will be held January 6-10, 2016, and if last year’s event is any guide, it will attract more than 20,000 excited visitors.

The main street is closed off for the duration becoming known as the NRMA festival boulevarde, and the local businesses get involved, decorating their shopfronts for that year’s theme. Each theme is based on an Elvis Presley movie – in 2015 it was Roustabout (with a carnival vibe); this year it is Fun in Acapulco, so sombreros are likely to figure highly.

As the festival has grown from humble beginnings in 1993, it has become more and more a family event. In addition to the ‘Elvis tribute artists’, there is a Priscilla Presley lookalike competition, a classic car show, a chance for married couples to renew their vows Vegas style, markets, a photography competition, and more Elvis inspired goodness. We’re excited to play a part in the Elvis Festival for the second time, so visit the NRMA stand at Cooke Park and check out our vintage vehicles.

The local motels are often booked out a year in advance at festival time, so if you don’t have a motorhome or caravan, you might need to stay in one of the neighbouring towns such as Peak Hill or Forbes.

Another thing that books out quickly is the Elvis Express, which departs from Central Station in Sydney and takes 400 enthusiasts out to Parkes via rail. Al and his offsider get on the Elvis Express at Orange to do a meet and greet with the passengers.

Top 5 things to see at the 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival

Wednesday January 6 6pm:
Elvis at the Dish: The Brightest Stars in Heaven
Parkes Shire’s two great icons are brought together again as Shakin’ Rick Mackaway and The Wilsonics perform the King’s greatest hits in front of the world famous CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope.
Where: CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, Telescope Road, Parkes
Admission: $15

Thursday 7 January 4pm: Elvis Express Arrival
See Al and his offsider emerge from the Elvis Express with all the mad Elvis fans who have made the trip out from Sydney.
Where: Parkes Railway Station, Welcome Street, Parkes
Admission: Free

Friday 8 January 10am: Screening of Fun in Acapulco Get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the Elvis film that inspired this year’s festival!
Where: Parkes Library, 25 Bogan Street, Parkes
Admission: Free

Saturday 9 January 10am: Northparkes Mines Street Parade Enjoy a parade packed full of Elvis-themed floats, Elvis and Priscilla look-a-likes, vintage cars and motorcycles, and marching bands.
Where: Clarinda Street, Parkes.
Admission: Free

Sunday 10 January 2pm: ‘The ’68 Special’ Travel back to June 1968 with US Elvis tribute artist Donny Edwards as he lights up the stage with his scorching tribute to The King. Where: Parkes Leagues Club, 194 Clarinda Street, Parkes
Admission: $66 This is just a small taste of what’s on offer during the festival. For the full rundown of events, visit parkeselvisfestival.com.au.

Are you an Elvis fan? Have you been to Parkes?

If you are driving to Parkes, make sure your NRMA Membership is up to date or join here! Or give your vehicle a free health check with NRMA Premium Care before you head off.

Travelling overseas? Your NRMA Membership Card could help

Did you know that your NRMA Membership can also be used outside of Australia to access Roadside Assistance as well as other travel information and discounts?  

FLIPSIDE: The rear of your Membership Card is your gateway to unlocking discounts overseas

The NRMA, along with all of the state based motoring clubs in Australia, each have an association with The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

Bringing together 237 national motoring and sporting organisations from 142 countries, the FIA is a non-profit organisation who are the governing body for world motor sport. 

Under the agreement, FIA clubs across the world agree to provide a broad range of services, including breakdown assistance to each other’s Members travelling abroad for a time frame of three months. These benefits will vary. However the International Driving Permit Directory provides a complete list of participating countries, including the United States of America along with their contact details.

As well as roadside services, many motoring clubs around the world are also active in AAA’s global discount and Show Your Card and Save Programs. This means that they may have partnerships throughout their countries where Members can obtain discounts on attractions, museums, hotels, retail and restaurants simply by showing their Membership Card and don’t forget about NRMA Insurance for complete peace of mind during your travels.

Has your NRMA Membership ever come in handy when travelling abroad? What have been some of the discounts or benefits you’ve used? 

Not travelling overseas? Learn the benefits your Membership brings domestically.

Driving interstate? Your NRMA Membership benefits explained

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ROADTRIP: Enjoy all the sights from this beautiful country of ours with total peace of mind.

Ever worried what happens if you’re driving interstate and your car breaks down? Here’s a rundown on interstate benefits and how to get assistance from across the border as an NRMA Member.

Wherever you are in Australia, roadside assistance is arranged through the same 13 11 11 phone number, which diverts calls to the relevant state based motoring club. Each affiliate club will gather all the relevant breakdown information and contact the originating club to confirm a valid Membership.

The NRMA is affiliated with all six state based Motoring Organisations, including:AAA map

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Under the reciprocal arrangements, NRMA Members have access to affiliated clubs’ standard levels of roadside assistance.These benefits differ from the entitlements NRMA Members receive for breakdowns in NSW and ACT.

  • AANT and RAASA Standard benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles, 8km towing in metropolitan areas and 32km towing in country areas.
  • RACQ Club Care benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles, 10km towing in any direction or up to 40km towing to the attending RACQ Contractor’s premises.
  • RACT Advantage benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles, up to 15km towing in the city and up to 32km back to the nearest agent in the country.
  • RACV Roadside Care benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles, 20km towing in metropolitan areas and 120km towing in country areas.
  • RACWA Standard benefits include assistance to mobilise vehicles and 10km towing in “Guaranteed Service” (city) areas, and 80km of travel to mobilise vehicles and 80km towing in “Non-Guaranteed Service” (other) areas.

Members can also receive free maps and discounted attraction tickets when showing a current club Membership Card, however receiving any benefit interstate does come down to compliance, especially if the partner has certain restrictions around reciprocal benefits.

NRMA Premium Care and Premium Plus Members, are however entitled to receive the same towing entitlements Australia Wide, which includes 50kms metropolitan and regional towing as well as 100kms free remote towing. To arrange these benefits, a current Premium Care Member can contact the Premium Care hotline on 1300 772 273 from anywhere in Australia 24/7.

Premium Care and Premium Plus Membership holders can also access up to $3000 worth of Major Mechanical Assistance, including car hire, accommodation and passenger transport. These benefits are available to assist when a major mechanical breakdown occurs more than 100kms from home which cannot be repaired in less than 24 hours. This benefit is also available for Traveller Care Members.

Therefore, if you are regularly travelling greater distances, including interstate, or tow a caravan, Premium Care or Premium Plus may be a better suited option.

Have you ever needed to call roadside assistance  when interstate? How would you rate your experience? 

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