The things we don’t plan effectively for

Heading away on a trip is always an adventure, whether that be a day trip somewhere, a weekend escape, or something longer.  Unfortunately, most of us don’t really adequately prepare for what may happen or go wrong on a trip.  For most of us, we are lucky and things largely go to plan, although this reinforces the perception that we don’t need to be prepared for anything that could go wrong.

I’m going to highlight 3 key areas where I think that people could do better on their trip planning to help them get the most from their trip. This is just my personal opinion but I’d love to hear yours – comment below.

Medical Plan

A person wrapping his friends injured arm in gauze

Many of us really don’t think about a medical evacuation plan.  I.E – if someone really gets badly hurt or bitten by a snake or similar how we would deal with that.  Sure, we may have a first aid kit, but do we know how to use it?  Do we know where we will have mobile reception to call for help, or where our satellite phone will work (hint – in undulating or mountainous terrain you may need to be on top of a feature for the phone to work), what about the location of the nearest hospital, and have you identified a likely (easily identifiable) place where you can marry up with an Ambulance or even land a Helicopter?  We all assume everything will be OK, but giving a bit of thought to some of these practicalities before you head away will put you in a much better place to be able to handle a serious injury if it happens.

Our Equipment

The second thing that a lot of us don’t do is adequately prepare our equipment appropriately for what may go wrong.  While most of us like to go off-road as much as we can, for the majority it tends to be limited to a few times a year.  And that means equipment sits around which is not always good for it. 

How many times do you see a trailer break down on the freeway, probably because the wheel bearings weren’t checked despite the fact it had been sitting in the elements for months without use.  Did you know that your winch needs to be run every month to help avoid moisture corroding the electric motor? Preventative maintenance is key, as well as having a plan if things don’t go to plan.  It can be as simple as inspecting your gear thoroughly – are there any leaks, are the suspension bushes OK, are any electrical cables damaged?

It is a balance too, because you can’t carry every spare possible – the key is to make sure everything is serviceable, carry some gear to keep you moving for minor issues, and again have a plan if you get stuck or breakdown, whether that is someone more knowledgeable than you, or a Roadside assistance or recovery service.  Make sure you understand where key water supplies will be, where the is mobile reception, the location of key towns or farms if you’ll be remote.  And consider something like a satellite phone…

Extra Time

Cars stuck in traffic at an intersection

This actually is a big one.  A lot of us end up heading away over a long weekend, but we don’t factor delays or traffic, or even unexpected opportunities to stop and see something into our trip.  Being time poor at all times, we then rush and feel stress when we are not on time, and it turn into an effort to constantly make up for lost time instead of enjoying the journey. In this mindset, we potentially miss a plethora of amazing things on our adventure as we rush to the finish.  This is crazy when the whole purpose of our trip (at least in our heads) is to slow down, be mindful and relax.  The solution here is don’t try to pack too much in.  Realistically, add 30% to all of the estimated timings (much more if it’s a long weekend for traffic) on the trip to factor in some fat if you see something on the way, get held up somewhere, or otherwise, or halve the number of things you intend to see. And reframe your expectations so that you view any change to the plan as a new and exciting experience rather than a negative one. 

With young kids, when I travel I have come up with a rule – I never aim for more than 400km at the absolute most in a day’s drive, and I also only look to move every second day – IE – one travel day, one camp day.  While this limits the distance I cover, it means we get more out of our adventure, and saves us packing and unpacking every day, and the kids from being stuck in the car for too long.  And with 400km to cover in a day, that drive is achievable with breaks, lunch stops and other meandering.  The key is to enjoy things, so my advice is plan to do less because you’ll get more out of your break.

I’d love to know – what is the #1 thing you don’t effectively plan for when it comes to your adventures?  Reach out by commenting below.


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Comments 8

  1. My thoughts about planning for black swan events.
    Since we retired and became grey nomads some 3 years ago we have travelled and camped extensively, tending to favour remote, out of the way locations. To this end I’ve been meticulous in carrying sufficient spares, oils and tools to be able to hobble back to civilisation. In short, to be quite self reliant.
    Or so I thought.
    So, when we snapped a leaf spring a short distance out from Broome we were able to limp back to town. Then to discover that every mechanic was booked up from 6 to 8 weeks and that it would have been very advantageous to have taken out all the insurance frills available, ie. emergency accommodation, etc.,etc.
    because even with the best will in the world when 4×4’s office is in Sydney and the rig is in Broome everything assumes a majestic pace that will not be hurried.
    So, given that once we get mobile we will continue with our round Australian trip what will I be doing differently? Increase our insurance cover to the max for a start. Carry more fencing wire (ya can’t have too much) and have a very flexible schedule.

  2. Food and water.
    We tend to over-cater our food and always under-supply for water, whether on a family camping trip or a weekend getaway.

  3. If you plan to drive on dirt roads or tracks don’t take your service centres word that the air filter just needed blowing out my air filter broke down 200klm from Oodnatdata and i had to make one out of hand towel lucky for me when i got there they had one. Always carry a spare.

  4. Always to many clothes, food and not enough beer!!! I have enough tools 🤞, but need to revise spare parts, mainly belts & hoses for tug and wheel bearings for van.

  5. Toilet stops-my car can do nearly 500kms on a tank of fuel but my wife’s tank doesn’t seem to go the distance

  6. I think you have hit the nail on the head Aiden with the “Extra Time” point. I travel a lot and always find myself rushing to the “starting point of my adventure”. Many of us plan the big trip to places like Cape York or the Kimberley’s but we live at the other end of the country. As such we don’t take into account the thousands of kms we need to drive to get to the point where we want the adventure to start. Tyres are a case in point, you see many 4×4’s with big mud tyres and lift kits “screaming” along the highways with number plates suggesting they came from another state, do they really need the mud tyres for the bulk of the trip?

  7. We travelled for quite a few years before it dawned on us fully that you need to be able to contact help when you are out of phone range. We originally presumed we would be alright because we carried extra food and water and would just sit and wait for help. Then the thought of snakebite, broken bones, bad burns, severe cuts, even getting ‘geographically confused’ while out walking, all need immediate aid, not a she’ll be right timeframe.
    EPIRBs, PLBs, Spot, etc will all aid with this sort of drama, although we went for a satphone. Think of a loved one, severely injured on the side of the road, and you haven’t any coverage.

  8. I agree with all the comments here and add to the forum.
    I have several backpacks one for mechanical issues, genuine parts being bearings 1 for the 4×4 and 1 for the van, fan belt, filters oil, fuel, and air, some I vacuum seal.
    Another pack is for my recovery gear.
    The other pack is my personal pack where I have my survival gear, there is an assortment of bits and pieces however four important pieces of kit are a bright red cloth about 6mx6m (location), first aid kit, fire lighting, and most of all a PLB.
    My Personal ResQLink Locator Beacon (PLB) when we are not hiking it is securely attached on the dash of the 4×4 between me and my partner, if we have a rollover and trapped we can activate the PLB. When activated, it sends a signal via satellite to emergency services, you can buy an EPIRB but is not as compact as the PLB. A PLB will run continuously for 24hrs an EPIRB will run for 48hrs. When you buy a PLB or EPIRB ensure it is up to the Australian Standard (GPS 406 MHz) and you must register it, go online for more info. Remember that using this beacon will initiate a full-scale rescue and you may be held liable to pay for some or all of the rescue costs in certain situations and locations. Liaise with your insurance or health fund to see whether you are covered and get it in writing, it’s worth the peace of mind factor.
    We also have a satellite phone and is an addition for safety we hardly use it mainly if we need to, just let family know you will have the phone on say morning 0700- 0800 and afternoon 1700-1900 just in case there is an issue at home.
    Happy and Safe Travels.

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