The silly season is nearly upon us, and what better way to celebrate the end of a good year (or start the New Year with a bang) than to relax and see what the Outback has to offer. I mean why not? You deserve it, and no doubt most of you would be taking some time off.
You’re probably thinking, ‘That’s the worst idea I’ve ever seen. Prepare a trip during the holidays? Are you crazy?’ The roads are busy; everyone will be visiting family interstate, and finding accommodation at this stage of the game, not to mention how expensive it could be…
Maybe you have already planned it out, and if so, good on you! Your organisation skills have made you come out on top but maybe there are some last minute things you should consider.
But if you haven’t, hear me out; it is possible and with some careful planning it can be achieved, whilst keeping your sanity in check.
So we’ve collated a whole list of tips from our collaborators and travel ambassadors this year, who are well traversed in the art of holiday planning. From those who have an intimate knowledge of Australia to those who took their home on wheels to Africa, these are their tips and tricks you need for planning your travels this holiday season.
If you’re still having doubts don’t – take it from Danny who will be travelling around Australia for a full year.
Looking back at the last couple of years, the many conversations I had with friends and other 4WD fanatics, I think my no. 1 tip is: be creative.
When you are planning a trip away for a year, you feel excited but also sometimes worried as it feels you have to take on a lot of risks. I experienced that when I told people my plans they always responded excitedly, however they also had a lot of ‘but’ questions.
"But what about your career?"
"But what about the distance from family?"
"But what about your home?"
The same when you ask other 4WD fanatics why they have not been to Cape York or the Outback. It feels you have to stop your career, take a big distance from family and go into certain financial uncertainty. I believe a lot of these points stop people from undertaking a trip like mine. And that is not surprising because leaving your comfort place is not easy.
When you have a good job, a nice house and another smashed avo for lunch, it is difficult to just leave that behind. However, being creative allows you to see this trip as something achievable. Being creative makes you rationalise these worries.
Your career does not stop as travelling around lets you expand your network and allows you to think about what you truly want. You can even do some online courses to develop yourself.
Nowadays with the internet, family is always one mouse click away and for remote areas, a sat phone allows you to stay in touch.
Financial uncertainty is often a big worry. But this worry can be managed by being creative. It is important to make a budget and decide if you either save all the money beforehand or if you keep gaining income.
For example, if you own a house, can you rent it out? Can you also do small jobs on the road? So determine how much you need to save and make a strict savings schedule. Do you normally buy lunch and coffee? Make your own at home and easily save $10 a day.
Also, try to only spend $2 one day a week on food. This helps you realise how much you can actually save on groceries. So give up a little bit of luxury so you can reach your big lap dream quicker.
About Danny Bosch: Danny hails from the Netherlands, and has been in Australia for the last 5 years doing research studies into brain development. Now with his decked out Nissan Patrol, kayak and mountain bike, he will travel 50,000 km around Australia for a full year. He has considered every aspect of this big trip and his logic can also be applied for smaller trips as well. Follow Danny here: Dannys4wdadventures.com
So hopefully that didn’t take too much convincing, just get creative, take the plunge and go. So what’s next? Mark Evans, Carmine Caputo, the team from My Aussie Travel Guide, and Mike from Adventure Curated, explain certain aspects to consider.
1. Plan and research: Book accommodation well ahead, research what you want to see and do, plan carefully and make sure you give yourself enough time to do your favourite activities.
2. Give your vehicle a once-over: Check everything like fluids, wheel bearings, tyres, belts, lights
3. Get the necessary gear: Things like recovery gear, maxtrax for sand and vehicle spares.
4. Create a contingency plan. If going to remote areas and something goes wrong do you have necessary communication equipment to call for towing or spares if you break something? Do you have extra funds to cover for emergencies?
About Mark Evans: Mark together with wife Janelle, are your everyday ordinary Aussie couple, who have lived the typical suburban lifestyle. After a particularly stressful day at work, Mark says to his wife, “ Let’s leave our jobs and go around Australia” and much to his surprise, Janelle said yes. Now they’re headed for an adventure of a lifetime – a two-year trip around Australia.
1. General safety: Have your brakes and wheels/tyres checked before you head off, have a tyre inflator and pressure gauge with you at all times, drive to the weather/road conditions and at a speed that you’re comfortable with.
2. Vehicle Insurance: Make sure your vehicles are insured and that you take your policy info with you, because although you hope to never need to make a claim, sometimes accidents do happen. It’s better to be able to make a claim and have repairs done as quickly as possible and so you can get back to having fun.
3. Make Lists: Write a list of everything you think you need, then pack the most used items last - in easily accessible spots.
4. Practice Trip: If time permits, do a practice trip where you use everything you’ve packed to make sure it’s serviceable.
5. Weather: Be prepared for hot summer days and winter storms; never assume the weather is going to stay the same as it was when you left home. I’ve fallen asleep in dry summer heat and woken up in a torrential downpour (Far North Queensland).
If you’re only going away for a weekend, just pack what you think you need and have fun.
If it’s a longer trip like a few months or 14-months around Australia - and you have plenty of time to prepare your vehicle and caravan, here are some extra tips:
Have solar on the vehicle roof, a second deep cycle battery and a compressor fridge with you at all times – it’s priceless.
From keeping drinks, meat and dairy cool on the way back from the shops (especially when it’s over 40 degrees outside), to being able to go exploring on Fraser Island for a few days, I use the fridge in the Ute every day.
Gone are the days or spending approximately $5 a day on a bag of ice and having to empty the water out of the esky each evening, with your food sometimes being soaked in water. It simply can’t be beaten.
About Carmine: Carmine Caputo creates and facilitates empowerment and life transformation workshops. He is an author, public speaker, Angel IntuitiveTM and Reiki practitioner / teacher. This year, he has set himself to go on a 14-month workshop tour around Australia to promote his book 'Change your vibration' and encourage others to talk about their mental health and seek assistance if required.
Grant and Linda – My Aussie Travel Guide
1. Make a List: Create a checklist well in advance, and tick items off as they've been completed to help keep you on track. High up on the list should be items such as a vehicle service and camper trailer (if applicable).
2. Plan your meals: Create a food planner to help pack the right quantities and ingredients.
3. Lay it all out: Lay everything to be packed on a tarp to determine where it will fit, and whether it's really needed.
About My Aussie Travel Guide: In 2011, Grant and Linda took off to travel around Australia whilst blogging their adventure. Much to their surprise, the blog became a massive hit. In 2014, they launched My Aussie Travel Guide to deliver a unique travel guide around for WA’s Gibb River Road in audio form – no more lugging travel guides around.
Mike Collister - Adventure Curated
The festive season can be a busy time. If you’re also heading away, getting a little organised can keep it fun. We usually map out the basics to make sure it stays enjoyable:
1. Food - Keep it easy & tasty. Sticking to your favourites should be easier to shop for.
2. Gear - It soon all adds up - the hard part is choosing what to leave behind - less is often best. If you are looking at new gear, quality always lasts better, and less bulk and weight is a good choice for many items.
3. Route - With plenty of people out and about, consider planning the key details of your trip and booking campsites before hitting the road.
About Adventure Curated: Mike Collister dreamed up Adventure Curated with partner in crime Gen Collister. Mike has spent his whole life outdoors, whilst Gen knows a thing or two about curating the tastiest bush tucker food.
Ned Cakovan, cannot recommend getting quality gear enough as well. Ned used a 115W solar blanket for his recent trip from Longreach to Rockhampton and he had this to say, “those solar blankets are a must. I had to share it with 2 other cars to keep things running. It was simply amazing.”
Now that you have carefully considered where you are going to go, getting all the necessary gear and checking your vehicle is in tip-top shape, what are the things you need to plan to make your stay more enjoyable? Mick McCall shares his tips.
1. Get into a routine: Whether caravanning or camping, get into a routine when setting up camp. Take your time; know each other’s roles and working together to achieve it will ensure the best start to your holiday.
There is nothing worse than pulling into camp and being centre stage as everyone grabs a drink in readiness for the entertainment that lies ahead.
Generally, there isn’t a shortage of hands offering to help, but nobody will risk life or limb jumping into a domestic dispute when one simply hasn’t maintained enough tension on the guy rope for the awning pole to stay upright.
2. Have a checklist? Check it every single time: If you don’t already have an extensive checklist, get one. But just as important is a pre-departure cheat card that you can store in the sun visor.
The cheat card is a list of 10-20 items to check when the van is hitched and ready to go. The list is a visual reminder to ensure such things as tyre pressures, lights, gas bottles, and water tanks are full, lights are working, van is hitched correctly, trailer and Anderson plug connected, Brake released, chains on, chocks out, hatches and doors are secured and everything is tied down.
When stopping for fuel or for lunch etc., retrieve the card and repeat the process again. It’s not a tick and flick exercise, be sure you actually check each item.
3. Don’t cramp your style: If you’ve found a nook in the van, it doesn’t mean you should fill it. In a sense, many of us head for the road due to the simplicity camping and caravan offers.
If you are thinking of packing something because ‘you think you might need it’, just leave it at home. Make do and you’ll find half the stuff you’re dragging around is not needed.
Camping is about decluttering our normal lives, why bring all the stress with you on your holiday?
About Michael McCall: We are Michael and Tania McCall and in our mid-40s. We have decided to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and explore this large country of ours. We are towing a 2008Tvan with a well kitted 2015 FJ Cruiser departing Melbourne and heading West mid-January 2017. We haven’t decided exactly how long we’ll be travelling, however having the next 12 months off work certainly provides a great opportunity to see the country before settling back in our normal lives.
And finally from our friends down at Africa, Rinus and Helga had this to say.
Rinus and Helga - 27.000 miles along the sea
For travellers, campers, overlanders, explorers or people who like to spend time in the bush, we collected some travel advice.
1. Don't plan too much in advance: Be flexible; everything changes so fast on earth. We experienced this travelling through the Northern Territory hitting the wet season.
Roads turn into seasonable hazards, streams turn into rivers and being outdoors loses its fun. You'll have to be flexible, adjust or wait. We also experienced this travelling Africa: political situations, public tension, and closed borders.
You'll just have to deal with it although it can mean having to adjust your travel itinerary.
Plan a general route, be flexible and let the road and your experiences guide you. Take the advice of others, but bear your own abilities and desires in mind.
2. Less is more: The urge to over pack is strong. Definitely take less than you think you'll need, except spare parts, tools, and (in certain parts) fuel and water.
Always have back up food e.g. tinned fish if you're away from civilisation but definitely don't try to carry months of stuff...plan to use local sources to re-supply.
We carry a week's worth of non-perishable, dry-freeze food, which we keep separate for emergencies.
A water filtration system like MSR or an additive like Katadine helps with getting safe drinking water from local sources.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Packing, unpacking, setting up sometimes can be fun but also gets boring and a simple waste of precious travel, explore and relax time. Don't bring anything that takes too much time to set up as it will either stay in its permanent setup or you'll never use it.
4. It's all about the people you meet: Often the country's highlights are the people and their extreme generosity. Read up on the regions you pass through. Stay with and talk to the locals. Go to the museum.
Don't drive through in a bubble of your own culture. Have faith in the people you'll meet along the way. It might at times be a little overwhelming (Pakistan, India, Africa) but the world is full of beautiful people who want to help you and share time with you.
The interruptions ARE the journey!
5. Driving and Vehicle: Take pristine care of your vehicle and it will take care of you. Take records of the distance you are travelling and the service history of the vehicle.
Check or replace things at certain intervals. For us, we are servicing or getting the car serviced every 5000km.
On the road check for loose bolts on rough dirt tracks and walk around the car regularly to check its condition and your load. Keep weight down, and low in the vehicle. This prevents you from rolling over.
Take good (self) recovery gear, you can't and sometimes just won't rely on others to save you. But know, first prevention from getting stuck is not getting stuck. Engage 4x4 defence driving time, know the abilities of your vehicle and turn back when necessary.
Travel slowly, prevent accidents and see more!
About Rinus and Helga: Hi guys, we are Helga and Rinus Hartsuijker, the travel crew from “27.000 miles along the sea” We left western Europe in early June 2014 and took on the overland route to India crossing the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Kashmir and India. We made it to Australia and circumnavigated this beautiful continent anticlockwise in 18 months before shipping our vehicle to Africa. We are now on our way through Africa finding an overland route back to Europe.