21 Travel Tips to ensure your overland tour is TOPS

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21 Travel Tips to ensure your overland tour is TOPS  is a guest post by Johanna Castro from ZigaZag Mag

Kimberly adventures overland tour
Rough conditions, red soil. Don’t pack your best gear.

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

Packing tips for overland tours
A cover up dress or a sarong over a swimsuit is all you’ll need for the beach (don’t forget suntan cream + hat too)

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!

overland tour tips
Make sure you pack a hat and worn-in, suitable footwear

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.

Be Prepared

tips for overland tours
Be organised because some stuff ends up on the roof or packed well away.

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

Overland tours Kimberly
small day pack is ideal for day hikes

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

overland tour tips
There’s not much room for belongings if you’re sleeping in a swag

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.

packing tips for overland tours
There will always be those game for a laugh, who are prepared to pack humorous items to make others giggle!

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

  1. Keep life simple.
  2. Go with the flow.
  3. Expect the unexpected.
  4. Don’t steal anyone else’s booze from the Esky!
  5. Swags aren’t designed to get in or out of in a hurry.
  6. Swags aren’t designed for romantic encounters.
  7. Never put your camera on a rock near a gorge full of water.
  8. If you’re sleeping out under the stars, remember … you can’t turn the moon off.
  9. Mosquitos are everywhere. Be prepared, especially at dusk and dawn. Spray yourself and your clothes.
  10. Don’t worry about work – because it’s miles away, and completely un-contactable.
  11. Stop fretting about checking for phone messages – there’s no signal for days on end.
  12. Travel insurance is a must.
  13. Learn how to unroll and roll up your swag efficiently – a little discipline goes a long way.
  14. Understand how things work on a tour with a tour group and get into the swing of them.
  15. 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!
  16. Be nice to everyone and never gossip.
  17. 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.
  18. Don’t take ‘maybe’ items – you won’t use them.
  19. Take a pack of wet-wipes and a pack of tissues.
  20. If you use glasses to see or read with, then take more than one pair with you.
  21. 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).
Kimberly overland tours
A glass of wine as the sun sets is a lovely way to end the day on an outback tour so don’t forget to leave room in your packing allowance for a bottle of wine or a few beers

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.

18 thoughts on “21 Travel Tips to ensure your overland tour is TOPS”

      1. Thanks, Caz! Yes, I’m perfectly fine with that Simone, Link Away! I’m really happy that this post might be useful to others and perhaps answer some frequently asked packing questions.

    1. Thanks, Caz. Yes I’m perfectly happy with that, Simone – I’m stoked that you feel this post might help others, and perhaps answers some frequently asked questions. Link away!

  1. Great tips Jo!
    My tip is, if you are walking to a gorge for a swim, make sure you still wear hiking boots for the walk in and out to the gorge,and when you get there swim in your clothes. They get a rinse and freshen up at the same time as you, it will be cooler walking back, and your clothes will be dry by the time you get back to your vehicle!
    Also – make sure you take a notebook, to keep a track of your photos, so when you get back to civilization and a computer, y9ou will know where the photos were taken.

  2. Both great tips! Thanks Jill. I always seemed to be grubby, so swimming and drip drying sounds a good idea. Also the notebook, especially as we take so many photos now it’s all digital.

  3. Thanks for some great tips Jill. I especially like and agree with the one about swimming in your clothes and dripping dry! The notebook is essential these days now we take so many photos because it’s all digital.

  4. Hey Jo, did you get to try out your whiz freedom?

    Clotheswise, I avoid cotton unless super light because generally it doesn’t dry quickly. I have made a few investments in outdoor brands which can be more expensive but made for the job, worth every penny and – these days – are trendy to boot for the intrepid style Queens. I have lightweight pants and shorts that I can wash through and will dry in around thirty mins.

    Too true – it’s crucial to become an expert at bathing with wet wipes!! I also swear by the humble Buff which has multiple headwear uses. Trip looked brilliant craic, makes me want to go soon. xx

    1. Great advice, Tracey. Thanks for adding to the tips 🙂 Whiz freedom was quite a laugh, but I think I’ll stick with the ‘au naturel’ way of doing things :)!

  5. Brilliant Jo, you have covered everything. The less is best principle is a great one to adhere to when travelling anywhere. It is very liberating to be without makeup and mirrors! The best tips you’ve given for an overland group tour (especially in the Outback!) are “go with the flow” and “expect the unexpected”. If you keep these things in mind you can’t help but have an enjoyable holiday! You never know really what each day holds, even the tour guide doesn’t know how each day will pan out!
    That of course is part of the fun.
    Loved the whole article Jo. The Kimberley is so beautiful, can’t get enough of it!

  6. Thanks so much Lee, very glad that you enjoyed the post and connected with some of the ideas. So true that you never know how a day might pan out, and that’s the lovely part of travelling somewhere remote like the Kimberley.

  7. Thanks for a very comprehensive article. You are correct that it is best to travel light and if it is enforced then it is amazing how easy it really is.

    We went on a driving trip to outback New South Wales last year and definitely packed too much, probably because we had a whole car available to fill up!!

  8. After living on the road for months at a time, I SO appreciate the pared down life I find it hard to get used to the space and things in my house when I return! My essentials? Wind-up torch, folding shovel & toilet paper!! If you’re driving yourself, invest in a $50 (AUD) inverter that plugs in to the car cigarette lighter to charge up your camera/netbook etc while you’re driving! Not having a charged up camera is my worst nightmare!!

    And that insect repellent will hopefully come in handy for the sandflies and ticks as well 🙂

  9. Great tips Red, and ones that definitely need adding. A flat camera battery is the worst although I can just about live without computer and make do with only pen and paper. I didn’t realise mossie repellant is effective for flies and ticks, so thanks for that advice. WA in December has just become more bearable!

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