Last week we looked at the importance of preparing your vehicle before a trip to remote areas. Once it is in mechanical tip-top condition and kitted out with essential accessories, it's time to prepare yourself and plan the trip.
Be smart and admit to yourself (if to no-one else) that you may not have as many skills as you need.
Mark Haffenden, of Eureka 4WD Training, reckons everyone who attends the course picks up something they never knew or had forgotten. He recommends contacting a registered training organisation and undertaking a course on the basic aspects of off-road driving and activities relevant to the terrain you will be covering.
"Look for one that emphasises recovery techniques," he said.
"One of the downsides of remote travel is that without proper training and knowledge about your four-wheel-drive, things can go pear-shaped very quickly and, sadly, there have been many fatalities in the past."
With couples, often one person does most of the driving. It's important that the secondary driver completes formal training because while their new skills may not get much practice, they'll be a handy fallback in an emergency should the primary driver fall sick or get injured.
To cope with illness and injury, complete a comprehensive first-aid course. Don't exclude younger travellers - St John Ambulance runs school programs from kindergarten up.
Also, children should receive as much first-aid training as they can understand, either from parents passing on the basics or by attending a formal course.
Make sure every passenger can use a sat-phone and UHF to call for emergency assistance.
A bush or outback survival skills course rounds out your skill set with navigation by sun or stars, lighting fires, finding water, bush tucker and minimising contact with dangerous creatures.
Visit bobcoopersurvival.com for upcoming courses.
Finally, start planning the trip.
After years of leading tagalong tours, Jeremy Perkins from Global Gypsies has helped too many travellers stuck in remote locations because of poor planning.
"For example, more people are choosing to travel the Canning Stock Route with friends rather than a professional tour operator," he said. "Looking at websites and reading chat forums, you could be forgiven for thinking it's going to be a walk in the park. Well, let me tell you that it's not.
"You need to know what you're doing to travel the loneliest 4WD track in the world and get home in one piece. There's only one road in and out, and few facilities. Of all the 4WD self-drive expeditions in Australia, the Canning is the mother of them all."
If you don't want to tackle organising permits, arranging fuel drops, checking track conditions with authorities, hiring a sat-phone or learning basic mechanics, you might want to reconsider travelling.For big trips, adopt safety in numbers and travel with an experienced group. If you've got your heart set on the Canning Stock Route, check out globalgypsies.com.au.
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