While a new traveller will eventually learn how to prepare for trips, learning on the trip could be disastrous if the route takes them to more remote areas. We cannot stress enough the importance of preparing for every possible eventuality in advance. Consider everything you’ll need in case of an emergency during your travel before you start on your trip in your off-road caravan. It does not matter if you have a new camper or are using a used caravan. The basics remain the same.
You cannot expect your offroad caravan, no matter how good it is, to withstand a lengthy off-road excursion without making some pre-trip preparations. Here are some suggestions to make your caravan more resilient when travelling for long periods in the outback.
Road and Track Conditions
Always check ahead on the road conditions in the direction you’ll be travelling in and ensure your vehicle can handle them. You will need to reduce tyre pressure and the speed you travel over rough and corrugated roads or sand. If you are not an experienced traveller, do read up on travel blogs and tips to learn how to handle the different situations you might come up against. Some are pretty simple like taking breaks to give your suspension time to cool down when going over rough tracks. Others like things to watch out for while travelling in the outback, being aware of the signs on the road that there might be danger ahead, come with experience or need you to talk to experienced caravaners to learn about them. A branch across the road, a tyre standing upright, or an upright stick with a plastic bag or something else attached. You need to proceed with extreme caution if you notice any of these indicators.
Vehicle Checks – Maintenance and Parts
Book your caravan in for a full professional service before you leave for your trip (and before you start packing). The service team will ensure that your vehicle is in good condition to prevent breakdowns. Ensure you fix any issues before you start your trip. While this may take up some time and money, it will definitely be better than finding out that you have an issue midway.
Before attempting any off-road driving, you should have the underside of your caravan checked along with the exposed wiring and plumbing. It is ideal to have additional protection for all the exposed wires, drainage pipes, and other plumbing.
Buy a high-quality tyre repair kit/breakdown kit and tyre pump. Being able to repair minor issues like damaged windows and flat tyres ensures you can drive to the nearest town for a proper check and repair. Even if you use tubeless tyres, you still need to buy two high-quality spare tubes because a tubeless tyre may, in some cases, only be repairable with a tube.
Mobile phones have limited coverage in the outback, so it is better to have a satellite phone that can get you Australia-wide coverage. You can also consider an HF radio and/or a Spot Tracker (an EPIRB and a personal GPS tracking device).
Do you have first aid experience? First aid training and certification are crucial to ensure your safety when travelling in distant places. More than one person travelling should have good knowledge of first aid and be trained to call for help via an HF radio or a satellite phone.
The batteries fitted in your caravan provide power for any appliances you use. This is not an unlimited source; if the storage runs low, it needs to be hooked up to a powered site or solar panels. Ensure that the batteries and wiring are checked before your trip and that the electrolyte level in the battery is optimum if you are using wet cells. Avoid depleting the battery too much and use the appliances conservatively.
Packing for Outback Conditions
Pack your off-road caravan sensibly. Transporting food and other products along rough dirt roads means they will constantly be in motion. Due to the friction created by the frequent movement, packages can develop holes and leak their contents. Boxes made of cardboard should be stored together; those made of metal should be kept apart. Place lighter goods in overhead cabinets and heavier items at the bottom. While packing your refrigerator, start filling the shelves from the bottom and work your way up. Liquid-filled containers should be kept in trays to help stop leaks and spills and/or placed in zip-lock plastic bags. Make sure you label your containers. The refrigerator door needs to be always locked. The trick to packing for your off-road trip is to ensure you are ready for most eventualities.
As you can see, getting your off-road caravan prepared for a trip off the beaten track is not all that different from getting it ready for any trip. Prepare a list of what you need to check for or do before your trip. It is helpful to review each item in the list once again as you pack to ensure that you haven’t overlooked anything. Travelling the outback is fun when you have prepared well.