10 Differences Between Winter and Summer Road Trips

Posted by: Dan on 6/05/2015

Category: Community

10 Differences Between Winter and Summer Road Trips

If you’re thinking about taking a road trip, don’t just throw your gear in the car and hit the road!

Plan for your trip well in advance, as proper road trip safety begins with thinking about where you’re going, what you’ll need and how many people will be in your vehicle. At the same time, think about the season during which you’ll be undertaking your trip, as every season requires carrying different items and undertaking different preparations.

Don’t be caught unprepared. Familiarise yourself with the following ten differences between winter and summer road trips as you get ready for your journey.

Ice and Snow

Now, if you’re hitting the road during the summer, you won’t have to worry about getting stuck in the snow or hitting a patch of ice on a bridge. On the other hand, if you’re taking a winter driving trip down south - maybe to go skiing - you’ll have to worry about both. Stay safe by having the right tyres on your car and keeping items like an emergency kit, food and water stocked in your car.


On the other hand, if you’re going to be driving during the hot summer, you know how important it is to have a working air conditioner. Not only will you suffer less, it could save your life - the last thing you want is to be stuck without air conditioning when the temperatures is hovering around 45 degrees or so. To avoid problems while driving in the summer, take your car in at the first sign of trouble to keep its systems in top condition.  

The Length of the Days

If you’re planning a nice summer road trip, you can take your time, as the days are longer from sunrise to sunset. This makes it easier to drive more, giving you time to enjoy the scenery and the countryside.

On the other hand, if you’re driving in the winter, you’re going to have to deal with shorter days. And since you can’t rely on the sun being out all the time, you’ll need to plan your trip a little differently. Certainly, if you adjust your winter driving schedule and wake up early, you can still enjoy long days out on the road. But you’ll still want to exercise caution if this extended travel leaves you driving in the dark mornings or nights.


While Australians know that you can see rain any day of the year, it’s usually the wettest in January and February. So if you’re planning a trip for one of these months, you’ve got to plan accordingly. Whether you’re taking off in the summer or the winter, make sure your windscreen wipers function at their best. Remember also to slow down and watch out for motorists when driving in the rain. Your safety is no one’s responsibility but your own.


If you plan your trip for the winter, you probably aren’t going to overheat going up a steep mountain road. But, in the summer - especially if you have an older car in need of repairs - you could be in real danger of this circumstance.

To avoid issues, turn of your air conditioner while going up big hills or mountain passes. In addition, make sure to treat your car well and take it in for servicing before your summer road trip. Before you head out, check your coolant levels, as low coolant levels are usually the culprit behind an overheating engine.


Most road construction takes place in the summer, as the season gives road crews more time to work without forcing them to battle the cold. However, this isn’t always true, depending on the area. When preparing for your trip, check the news for any mentions of construction and plan alternate routes if you anticipate long delays. Preparing ahead of time and padding your schedule a little will make your road trip much more enjoyable.

What You Carry

On a long winter road trip, you’ll want to carry blankets and other items to keep you warm in case of an emergency. On a summer trip, you should carry water, antifreeze and any other items needed to battle the heat. Of course, there are items you should carry on both summer and winter road trips as well, but these will vary based on your needs.

One other recommendation… If you’ll be travelling in the mountains in the winter, consider carrying a shovel or a bag of cat litter. Both of these items can be invaluable in getting you unstuck from icy or snowy conditions in the event of an emergency.


We Australians love our summers. For this reason, if you’re planning a summer road trip, you should get ready to compete with hordes of other people. Not only that, plenty of people from all over the world rent recreational vehicles and drive around Australia. Prepare for these crowds ahead of time by mapping out parking locations and ensuring your car never runs so low on petrol that it’ll give out before you can find a place to park.

Wiper Fluid Freezing

If you’re going up to the mountains in the winter - or even if you’re visiting some of the surrounding lower level areas - you may have to worry about your wiper fluid freezing in the winter. This isn’t a problem you’ll face in the summer, so if you’re planning a winter trip, make sure you use wiper fluid that’s rated to work in the elements.

Road Closures

Finally, if you’re planning to take a long road trip in the winter, check the road conditions ahead of time. If they’re horrendous, you may find that road closures prevent you from being able to get to the places you want to go. This is rarely a problem in the summer, but you may still encounter it then due to construction or occasional floods. Prepare ahead of time by checking conditions online or by queuing up your favourite mobile traffic app.

Whether you’re taking a road trip in the summer or the winter, you need to know how to be prepared and how to drive safely. Learning the different conditions and challenges you’ll face in summer and winter driving will help you to be safer, have more fun and avoid the issues other drivers may encounter. Remember, prepared drivers is the drivers that are going to enjoy their trip to the fullest!

Image: Pixabay