The weather is getting warmer and you’re nearly at the end of the year. All you have to do is make it through your final exams, hand in your last assessments and you’ll be free over summer break. Gather your best mates and load up the car. Make the perfect playlist, pack your bags and hit the road. You don’t have to know where you’re going, but if you want to hit a specific place like Melbourne from Sydney or somewhere like Byron, now’s a good time to start thinking about doing it.

1. Taste the freedom

It’s going to be totally up to you how you spend your summer holidays. In between starting uni, taking a gap program, working or whatever else you have planned, it’s your time to feel what it’s like to truly have no responsibilities. No essays that need memorising, no study sessions, no practice exams to hand in and no looming tests. You won’t have serious bills to pay, or a mountain of debt. Appreciate the fact that you’re totally free to do whatever you want.

2. Time away

You’ve just spent the hard slog with your head down. Pen in hand you battled through hours and hours of writing, sleepless nights and cramming. You put up with the hand cramps and the boring wait when you’re done with your exam but the supervisors won’t let you leave yet. You’ve batted away the questions about how exams are going and what you’re planning to do for the rest of your life. It’s no wonder you’re tired. Endless cups of coffee, red bull and Maccas feeds have been pushing you through but now you need to give yourself a proper break; a chance to refresh and recharge in a way that you haven’t been able to do all year.

3. See Australia

Look, your road trip doesn’t have to be days and days of driving. Even going for a couple of hours out or into the city is a good way to get out and see something other than your backyard. Look for waterfalls and natural pools and go for swims even if you have goosebumps all over your body. Hikes along trails and listen to the crunch of dirt and sticks beneath your shoes. Go to the top of lookouts and look over valleys with your feet dangling off the edge.Visit gimmicky tourist sites and take the obligatory photos. Watch the sunrise and set over oceans, and rainforests; realise how big the world is and take your chance to explore it.

4. Make memories

It’s true when people say graduating high school changes things. While it’s not impossible to stay close with your high school besties, it’s hard and most people can’t make it happen. So make the most of the time you have together while you can. Take selfies with big cheesy grins and your tongues out. Blast throw backs in the car and the songs that were played at your formal. Sing along to the tracks that you remember listening to in Year 7 and eat your way through all your snacks in the first hour. Enjoy each other’s company and tell stories of old memories and inside jokes that you don’t want to forget. Nap in rest stations with blankets tucked around each other and your head on their shoulder.

5. It’s pretty cheap

Forget an overseas gap year that’s going to cost you an arm and a leg. Road-tripping is cheap compared to jumping on a flight. Day trips, weekends away or trekking your way around Australia can all be done on a relatively small budget. You get to set your own plans, so you can spend as much or as little as you want plus, you can drag along your mates and share the costs.

header cred: @marlee_harrison

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