I’m no stranger to a road trip; even a cheeky weekender has seen me clock some decent hours behind the wheel. When we were planning however, one question always used to give us some trouble: do we leave early in the morning or the night before? I’ve pitted two recent experiences against each other below, without a hint of bias, to help answer the question for good.

Road Trip To The Budawangs – Leaving “Early” On Saturday Morning

I slammed the boot and exhaled a long sigh. Letting my arms hang loosely by my side I turned to look up at the stars above. The bloody car was packed. We were leaving first thing Saturday morning.

It had been a pretty rough Friday by first world standards. Between late deliveries to the store and not making the budgets we’d been set I was feeling pretty strung out and itching to leave it all behind for a few days. In fleeting spare moments, I’d scrawl another essential item on a scrap of paper. Can’t forget that. Will definitely need this.

There is one thing that you will never do if you plan to leave for a trip early in the morning: pack earlier than the night before. Why would you? You’re leaving early so of course it’ll be an early night.

There’s definitely enough time between clocking out of work and clocking into bed to run and grab a sleeping bag from Mum’s, hit the shops for supplies, get your tent back off Jonno and swing by Mum’s again for the camp stove.


Definitely enough time.


I repeated that phrase like some sort of clichéd cartoon character as I stumbled inside and fell head first into bed. Getting up early for a road trip was the last thing I felt like doing.




My phone alarm pierced my subconscious like a woodsaw. Time to go. Within a somewhat frantic hour, we were on the road… to Aidan’s house. No real road trip can begin until the whole carpool is locked and loaded. With Maggie and Aidan in the car and already an hour and a half behind schedge, we headed south.

There were highlights. Driving during the day allowed us to take in the crisp greens and blues of the South Coast and a breakfast donut-coffee combo in Berry hit the pleasure centres just right. But as we set off from Long Gully Campground at 11.00 am I couldn’t help but think, “Damn, would have been nice to wake up here.”


Rock Climbing At Tarana – Leaving On Friday Night

I’ve been tingling with excitement all day. As soon as the clock strikes 5:30pm I’ll be gone; rocketing up the highway as fast as an overloaded Subaru wagon with a few too many k’s under its belt can take me. That’s right. I’m packed. I’m prepared and I’m chomping at the bit.

Ready to hit the road like a domesticated bat out of hell.

By deciding to leave the night before this time I’ve forced myself to have the car already packed. The upshot of this is that packing has never felt like a part of the journey; it was just another bogus midweek task to tick off.

I’m done with the early morning drives, with delaying my weekend microadventures until Saturday’s sunrise. Doesn’t the weekend start on Friday night? Good. Let’s go then.

By the time the sun had set on this particular Friday night we were over the Blue Mountains and deep into wood fired pizzas at Alchemy in Little Hartley. Stuffed to the crust, we cruised back up into the mountains to set up camp. Tomorrow we’d wake up in the mountains, ready to make the most of our weekend.

The Weekender Extender, Tim Ashelford, carpark camping, dark, night time, torchlight

10.00pm on a Friday but the journey has already begun.

The Best Kind Of Morning After?

My brother and I don’t even consider leaving on the day anymore. Experience has shown us that unless we have to hang around, smashing out half (or all)* of a road trip as soon as possible is the ultimate weekender extender.

Camping in a new campsite that you probably never knew existed you’ll bag:

  • An extra, self-sustained night in a tent.
  • An extra sunrise (or not, I’m guilty of missing my fair share)
  • A shorter drive after breaking camp. Or you can instantly jump into your plans, so much time for activities!

These bonuses add up to make your adventures and road trips just that little bit more epic.

Don’t wait until the next day to begin your weekend escape. Leave the night before and give yourself the best kind of morning after.


*Stop, Revive, Survive ain’t no joke. If you’re feeling tired, pull over and crash out, it’s way better than actually crashing.


Let’s hit the road amigos…

Adventure Isles // A New Zealand Road Trip

How To Prepare Your Car For A Summer Road Trip

5 Ways To Road Trip On The Cheap

5 Ridiculous In-Car Games for Road Trips

Road Trippin’ // Sydney to Melbourne