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21 Travel Tips to ensure your overland tour is TOPS is a guest post by Johanna Castro from ZigaZag Mag
Pack light! You must be joking.
I don’t know about you, but I’m normally an over-packer. I like to be prepared for any eventuality, and my suitcase is normally the one which if opened at customs needs at least three people to sit on it to get it done up again.
Pack little, Wash often
How much simpler it is to pack light. And this is something that I’ve finally learned after a 12 day overland trip to the Kimberley with Adventure Wild, an adventure tour company which stipulated, “No more than 15kgs per person in a soft sided stuff bag.”
Although thankfully this didn’t include our alcohol quota 🙂
I must admit, to begin with I was a little panic stricken. 12 days, different temperatures and minimal washing facilities. Not possible I thought.
However, after only a few days on the road I began to understand how little we actually do need on a daily basis.
It really does fit into one small stuff bag.
Obviously it depends on you and where you’re going, but a couple of pairs of shorts or boardies, a couple of t-shirts, a decent sweatshirt, a comfy long pair of pants, thin rain jacket, swimmers, thongs, walking shoes and reef sandals is probably all you need, along with some decent underwear that won’t split and tear if washed frequently.
It’s amazing what you find you don’t need, and after a while you tend not to mind, and it really doesn’t matter if you look a bit dusty and travel worn, because probably everyone else on a camping trip will be in the same boat, so to speak.
No make up – No worries!
Despite my hideous vanity, which took some beating down when I realized there would be no mirrors or hairdryers, I found it was really freeing not to have to worry about make-up, or how my hair looked, or if my clothes were dirty (they were), and I began to relax to the fact that what you haven’t got, you can’t worry about.
Although it was nice to have a glass of champage at the sunset lookout points along the way, and this took the edge off my self-consciousness with regards to baring all in a hideously au natural sort of way. However, I did get used to the easy maintenance routine pretty quickly and ironically on my return to ‘real life’ found it hard to find time for beautifying.
Girl Scout stuff, but it’s true.
If you’re on any kind of overland tour, your main bag will probably be packed in the depths of the truck or on top of it. Inaccessible.
You need to keep out what you need for the day in a day pack, and to begin with this takes a little planning.
To avoid a lot of fossicking around like an old woman make sure everything has its place and stick to that. Me? I proved to myself that I really am getting old and fossicking became a past-time.
Learn quickly what to keep out in your day bag each day. Things like your camera, notebook and pen, sarong, swimmers, small towel, water, suntan lotion and mosquito repellant.
If you don’t put your phone back in your daypack you might find that you’ve left it in your stuff bag that’s now squelched under 16 other bags on top of the bus, just when you come into signal on the summit of some distant hill.
And in your main bag – keep things organized. Make sure your toothbrush is in the same place each night so that if you don’t have a light when it comes to head to the tap to do your teeth, you can find it by touch alone. Me? Well I spent a long time unpacking everything one night and found it not in my toiletry bag but rolled up in my pyjama T-shirt. Obvious!
The little fiends seem to be everywhere these days so keep mosquito repellent and anti itch cream handy at all times.
If you’re sleeping in a tent or a swag and you’re woken by a mossie buzzing gleefully right by your ear, you need to find that spray quickly.
Out of the comfort zone
The outback will quickly teach you how to find a private spot in the bush to have a pee. A) Where nobody else can see you (or view you in the rear view mirror of the truck) and B) Where you won’t get attacked by bull ants or mossies.
Out of a sense of necessity you’ll soon learn where everything lives on the tour bus, how things are organised in the ‘kitchen’ or ‘pantry’ in the trailer, and where essential items like hammers and tent hooks are stored.
What you need to learn is how to be helpful, because there may be camp chores that everyone needs to pitch in with. Don’t ask what you can do, find out what needs to be done and jump in and help.
You also need to be packed up and ready to leave on time each day.
You’ll quickly learn when’s the best time to shower (before the hot water runs out) and how to roll up a swag (with difficulty) and although this might seem difficult at first, remember everyone is out of their comfort zone.
So smile and relish the uncertainty.
It’s a lifestyle
Slowly you’ll find yourself within yourself, and relax into a simpler life stripped down to basic requirements without all the, mostly unnecessary, modern conveniences of home.
Get into the simpler lifestyle and soon you’ll be feeling at one with the outback, or the bush and you’ll probably never want to leave.
In which case, pray you’ve packed sturdy underwear.
This much I know is true
The outback taught me lots about myself (not all of it nice) and some good stuff about life on the road in general.
So here are some packing tips and suggestions that I hope you find useful to help you have a wonderful trip – wherever that may be J
- Keep life simple.
- Go with the flow.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Don’t steal anyone else’s booze from the Esky!
- Swags aren’t designed to get in or out of in a hurry.
- Swags aren’t designed for romantic encounters.
- Never put your camera on a rock near a gorge full of water.
- If you’re sleeping out under the stars, remember … you can’t turn the moon off.
- Mosquitos are everywhere. Be prepared, especially at dusk and dawn. Spray yourself and your clothes.
- Don’t worry about work – because it’s miles away, and completely un-contactable.
- Stop fretting about checking for phone messages – there’s no signal for days on end.
- Travel insurance is a must.
- Learn how to unroll and roll up your swag efficiently – a little discipline goes a long way.
- Understand how things work on a tour with a tour group and get into the swing of them.
- You’ll probably feel as if you know everyone on the bus really well after a short 24 hours living fully in each others’ pockets but don’t take this for granted and get over friendly too soon!
- Be nice to everyone and never gossip.
- Girls should definitely pack a sarong. It can be used as a towel, a sheet, a light cover, a pillow, a picnic blanket or a shawl at nighttime.
- Don’t take ‘maybe’ items – you won’t use them.
- Take a pack of wet-wipes and a pack of tissues.
- If you use glasses to see or read with, then take more than one pair with you.
- Pack a small easi-dry camping towel and keep it in your daypack (great for quick dry offs after river swims, and great to quickly dry any drops of water off your camera or phone).
What tips do you have for an outback or bush adventure?
Johanna Castro is a freelance writer living in Western Australia. She blogs at ZigaZag Mag and helps people discover great West Australian adventures in dream places and quiet spaces.