Wondering how to prepare for that trip? It’s easy, just follow the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared!
In true Boy Scout fashion one always needs to be prepared when travelling overland. The length of the trip as well as the destination will guide you on the level of preparation required.
I always keep a full set of spanners as well as screwdrivers, pliers and side cutters in two tool rolls under my rear seat for day-to-day hiccups around town. There you will also find a basic first-aid kit, gloves, duct-tape, cable ties and self-fusing silicone tape. I also carry a 3,5m tow strap and a torch.
One would obviously add more kit for a weekend away or a longer overland trip, and items such as recovery equipment would become essential if you are going off road.
Good planning is important and will ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. All too often, one reads on a forum about a breakdown that could have been avoided had proper precautions been taken.
Firstly, are you adequately covered in terms insurance for your vehicle, and does it cover a trip to neighbouring states? Also, do you have medical cover and insurance that will ensure repatriation of your vehicle? Consider a specialist policy such as the Ultimate Explorer from Cross Country.
Next, plan your route and check the availability of fuel. Create a budget for fuel, meals and accommodation. As many places still do not accept credit cards, you will have to take some cash with you. It’s also worthwhile checking the location of ATMs.
Ensure that you book accommodation in advance. I once stayed at the Gariep Dam during low season and was amazed to see that the hotel was fully booked. I should have realised that this is an obvious stopover on the way from the northern provinces to the Cape.
If you are travelling across borders, or to remote areas, have you vehicle professionally checked by the servicing dealer. They know the vehicle and its history. They will do a full mechanical check, which should include an under-body inspection. You should also do a short off-road check yourself to ensure that everything functions as it should. This includes the engagement and disengagement of 4WD (high and low range range), functioning of the diff lock or traction control and suspension.
Remember to pack water, your recovery kit, a well-stocked first-aid kit, maps and your GPS unit.
Take certified copies of all travel documents and passports and keep original documents in a single waterproof pouch that is easily accessible in the event of an emergency.
The next step would be to add to the standard tools in your 4×4, ensuring that you have a jack, wheel spanner, handle and warning triangle. In the event of security nuts being fitted, take the necessary release socket as well. Add to that a socket set, hammer, chisel, tyre repair kit and tyre levers, and you are almost there.
Q Bond or Pratley Putty don’t take up much space, but could save you a lot of trouble. Water repellent such as WD 40 is a must, and if you are travelling in wet areas where water crossings may be necessary, throw in a wading sheet as well.
Basic spares are important if you are not going to be near a town or dealership.
Depending on your packing system, sort the items into clusters of similar stuff – kitchen, lighting, tools, etc. Ensure that everything is secure, especially stuff inside the vehicle, which could fly around if you are forced to brake suddenly!
What else should you do in preparation? Here is a list of things to check:
– Bull bar and auxiliary lights
– Dual battery system
– Roof rack fitment
– Gas bottles
– Tow bar
– Recovery points
– Jerry cans and brackets
– Water cans or tanks
The list could go on, but just be as thorough as possible. A bit of forethought could save you a lot of hassle.
Once you’re ready to go, relax and enjoy the trip. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your spare key!