Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. Lincoln may not have been much of a road-tripper, in fact, he passed away before cars were even a thing, however, the message is clear and concise: Rigorous preparation forms the foundations of success for many endeavours.
With the Easter break knocking on our door, chances are you’ve already packed and are counting down the minutes to 5pm Thursday. Preparation for your Easter trip on the road maybe something you have put off, or are planning to do last minute – we recommend that you don’t as the difference between an organised and prepared trip can be the difference between a memorable and miserable trip.
Here are 13 tips which will help you prepare for the Easter break.
Without an axe, you won’t be able to cut that tree, without a prepared vehicle you won’t make it out the driveway. Before you depart you will need to make sure your vehicle is in a fit state to make it to your destination.
If your vehicle requires repairs, maintenance or a service it's best to plan ahead – it’s probably too late now to do any major work but if you know what work is needed, plan ahead. The last thing you want is your vehicle breaking down in the middle of nowhere. Not only can this cause a safety issue if you are travelling remote, but it can also cost you an arm and leg to get your vehicle fixed in remote locations.
Do it yourself
There are some basic things that you can do yourself such as checking and replacing oil, water, brake and other vital fluids, adjusting tyre pressure, and checking your lights and indicators.
Manage your weight
The accessories in your vehicle such as spare wheels, jerry can and bull bars can be useful, however, it’s important to make sure they’re supplied and fitted by a reputable manufacturer and not overloaded. If your vehicle is carrying too much weight you will be much more likely to damage parts, break down and ruin your holiday.
Do your homework
It’s equally important to have an idea of the geographic nature and surroundings of the area or region you are travelling to so you can plan around it. For example, if you are heading to the remote outback it’s important to know the distances between towns and service centres so you can stock up on fuel and water. If you’re travelling and staying at a national park make sure you have any relevant passes and permits you may require to enter the location. If you know you’re going to be travelling on beaches or soft sand ensure you have the equipment to adjust tyre pressure if need be.
Packing isn’t meant to be fun, but if it’s done correctly it can save you time and reduce the risk of damaging your vehicle. We have all heard stories about instances of bad packing and clever techniques on how to avoid it. The best way to describe it is an art that people eventually learn the easy or hard way. The easy way is to pack and go with careful planning and preparation. The hard way usually happens when rushed and is taught through previous accidents. By applying the following tips and tricks, the results of learning via the hard way are drastically minimised.
Less is more
We’ve all heard the basic tips – making lists, roll your clothes, using complex draw systems. The truth is everyone packs differently depending on their needs, destination of travel and time spent on the road. The first and most important tip in regards to packing is the ‘less is more’ strategy. Most newbies are of the opinion that they need to bring everything including the kitchen sink. Our advice is to pack what you need. Most of the things you think you need you don’t, and the things you do can usually be picked up when on the road.
When packing a 4X4 it's essential to keep the centre of gravity as low and close to the axles as possible. Spread any heavy loads low down and balance it from front to back and left to right, with lighter equipment going on top. If you have a roof rack, use it when needed and only put the lightest stuff on it. If your vehicle is still not balanced then a weight distribution hitch may be necessary.
Do you really need to bring a fridge in every vehicle in your convoy? How about multiple recovery kits? The answer is no. In the initial planning stages, a ‘Who brings what’ list frees up space for all and reduces the strain on your vehicle. A little communication and list are all that’s needed to ensure that everyone in your group is carrying a little less, freeing up space for the vitals like beer.
In days gone by, the concept of electricity and power was non-existent when travelling remote. These days it’s a necessity, the concept of glamping with access to all your electrical needs on hand has become the norm. In our opinion, the best road trips are those with flexibility in terms of dates and locations accessed by the roads less travelled – in that case, you will need to plan on how you are going to charge all your electrical appliances. Chances are that it’s too late to buy and install some of the gear listed in the tips below, however, we recommend looking into the following for your next roadtrip.
A reliable battery setup
First things first, a dual battery setup is a must. If you plan on starting your engine after camping all weekend with the fridge, lights and radio, you will need a dual battery setup. Not only does it keep your auxiliary battery charged throughout your trip but it also acts as an insurance policy against having your battery fail in remote areas, giving you that extra peace of mind that you won’t be walking home.
A good DC to DC dual battery charger will charge your batteries to 100% regardless of the battery type. For most simple setups an auxiliary battery will do the job along with a 25amp dual battery charger. The charger takes charge from your alternator and supplies 25amps to your auxiliary battery, charging it while you drive.
If you have a D series REDARC In-vehicle Battery Charger you can easily connect it to a fixed solar panel on your vehicle via our Anderson to Bare wire cable. When solar is connected, the Charger will prioritize the power coming from the solar panel and only use vehicle power to supplement up to the maximum current rating of the charger. This will reduce the load put on your vehicle alternator and even save you a little bit of fuel in the process.
If you don’t have a dual battery setup for this trip, we recommend looking into one for your future travels.
If you’re travelling remote and plan on running a fridge, lights or anything off your auxiliary battery it pays to bring some form of solar panel with you. We recommend using a solar blanket as they are designed to be moved around to get the best energy output from the sun, and can be easily folded into a compact size for easy storage. The beauty of portable solar blankets is that they are simple to use – just unfold it, pop it out in the sun and plug it in.
Protect your gadgets
For the average joe, your vehicles 12V setup will keep the essentials charged, however, if you bring an assortment of gadgets – cameras, iPads, laptops, phones and any other 240V equipment it just doesn’t cut it. To replicate the 240v you get at home a Pure Sine Wave Inverter is what you need. Pure Sine Wave Inverter’s deliver smooth replicated mains power to common household appliances.
Another advantage Pure Sine Wave Inverters bring to your road trip is that they keep these appliances safe. One of the risks of charging your equipment from your vehicle's 12V is that it can be unreliable and increase the possibility of damage. If you know you will be bringing gear that requires constant charging then a Pure Sine Wave Inverter is a no brainer for your vehicle and road trips.
Food glorious food! No Easter road trip would be complete without epic meals and most importantly the Easter Sunday roast. Sitting around the campfire enjoying a well-prepared meal is one of the most enjoyable parts of any road trip. Whatever the camping arrangements is it pays to keep things simple and tasty, a 3-course meal is far too much effort at a campsite. In order to help you prepare for your Easter road trip, we recommend the following.
It all starts with the fridge, these days most vehicles will be running a fridge off their 12V system. Most modern fridges have the option to be plugged into mains power, we recommend doing this before you secure it in your vehicle. By getting it as cool as possible before you depart you will reduce the effort used by your 12v system when you hit the road.
The importance of creating optimal airflow (inside and out) is also important. Many people make the mistake of packing the contents too closely to the vents, blocking off airflow – which chokes the fridge, ultimately reducing the lifespan of your fridge. Always make sure you can fit your hand between the contents closest to the vents, this will not only keep your beer cold but keep your fridge happy.
As the Easter period is unfortunately only a short break, preparing meals before you depart can have some advantages. Vacuum sealing and pre-preparing meals like soups and curries is a brilliant idea. There are three big advantages here, the first is that you can pop these meals into your freezer before you leave, once frozen they will act as ice blocks inside the fridge reducing the strain on your fridge and keeping the other contents cool. This also maximises storage space as the vacuum seal removes air from the packaging. The final advantage is that once you get to camp your food is already prepared and good to go, allowing you more time to put your feet up and enjoy your campsite.
Keep it simple
One of the difficulties of cooking multiple dishes at the campsite is keeping the food hot. We recommend keeping it simple. Before you depart, it is wise to invest in a hot pot or Dutch oven which are ideal for one-pot meals, they are easy to use and keep your food nice and hot.
As Easter is only a short break it is advised to take along only what’s needed during the trip. Bringing too much food is something we have all been guilty of in past trips. Once again it’s good to live by the mantra that more is less. I am not saying leave home with an empty fridge, it’s always advisable to bring a few meals and the essentials such as tea, coffee and sugar. However, while it undoubtedly costs more to shop in small towns it does have its benefits. It allows you take advantage of locally sourced products, have a chin wag with locals and soak in the atmosphere.