There is nothing quite like going on a road trip – It gives you a sense of adventure as you explore new territories that you’ve never been to. There’s no schedule to stick to. You’re free to travel to your heart’s content and you get to decide how long to keep going or when to stop to enjoy the view.
Road trips are incredible experiences but you also need to consider your own personal safety before hitting the road. Here are some tips for safely road tripping in remote areas.
Service Your Vehicle
As you’ll likely be putting a lot of kilometers on your vehicle, you want to make sure that it can handle a long trip. Only go off-road if your car can handle it (e.g. if it’s 4WD). It’s tempting to drive down a gravel or sandy 4WD track to get to a nice spot but you may get bogged if you’re driving a matchbox car.
Check all of the following before you hit the road:
- Tyre condition: Proper tread depth is important for your safety. Most tyres have tread wear indicators which are spaced evenly in the main grooves. If these bars are flush with the adjacent ribs, then you should replace the tyres.
- Battery condition: Car batteries typically last between two to five years on average. If you don’t remember the last time you replaced the battery, either visit a local mechanic to make sure it’s maintaining a charge or get it replaced entirely.
- Fluid levels: Check all the fluids in your vehicle including the oil, radiator fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and air conditioning fluid.
- Miscellaneous: Make sure your headlights and taillights are working. You should also check that your air filter is clean and free of debris. There’s no telling what kind of weather conditions you’ll be dealing with so check your windshield wipers and change them if needed.
The last thing you want is to break down in a completely remote area. Perform each of these checks on your vehicle to make sure it’s in good condition. You should also learn how to check your tyre pressure and inflate to the recommended PSI. You can purchase a tyre gauge and inflator at any auto shop.
You’ll be putting a considerable amount of miles on your vehicle. Before setting off, learn how to do basic skills like changing the tyres, checking fluid levels, and replacing the wipers, battery, and air filters. Anything can happen on the road so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Bring Emergency Supplies
Even if you’ve done your due diligence and serviced your vehicle before hitting the road, emergencies can still happen. You might hit a rough patch of road that punctures your tyres or you may suddenly find yourself out of fuel. It’s impossible to predict what can happen which is why it’s important that you stock your vehicle with emergency supplies.
Bring plenty of bottled water and non-perishable food to keep you sustained until help arrives. Other necessities also include a paper map, jumper cables, a flashlight, a heat-retaining blanket, a power source to charge any of your electronics, and a satellite phone in case reception gets pathy. And always pack a first aid kit with basic essentials to treat any potential injuries.
Research Your Roads
Taking a road trip isn’t like driving down to your local grocery store. In remote areas it’s not uncommon to go many hours without seeing another car. Anything can happen in the meantime, which is why it’s important to plan ahead to avert potential disasters.
Research your route so you have a better idea of what to expect, including major landmarks and places you can stop to rest and refuel. You may even want to consider purchasing the Western Australia Road & 4WD Track Atlas to help plan your roads. The atlas also includes a list of the top 50 AWD trips in the state along with detailed descriptions of what to do.
With long stretches of road ahead of you, it may be tempting to drive faster than normal. But always follow the speed limit as data from RAC shows that speeding is one of the top causes of fatal accidents. Be especially cautious of natural hazards like flash flooding and livestock crossings. Check the weather and pay special attention to road signs.
When travelling through remote areas, it’s also a good idea to let others know about your planned route and expected arrival times. That way, your friends and family can check in to make sure you’re safe.
Make sure to get enough rest and don’t push yourself when you’re feeling tired. If you know there will be a long stretch of road and you have an opportunity to take a rest, take it because it could be many hours before you get the chance again. While you’re resting after a long drive, be sure to ask locals about recommended routes.
What to Do If Your Car Breaks Down
Experiencing a vehicle breakdown can be stressful especially in a remote area. First, do your best to relax and assess the situation to figure out why your car broke down. Flat tyres and batteries are common causes of cars breaking down. It’s important to bring spare parts and tools like a spare tyre, jack, and spanners so you can fix these problems yourself.
If you are unable to fix your car, then call an emergency roadside assistance immediately. It could be awhile before help arrives so keep your vehicle stocked with emergency supplies like food and water before setting off. Never leave your vehicle as you could be putting yourself in danger by wandering away.
Road trips offer incredible travel experiences. If you’re stuck for ideas on where to go, then this list of the most popular road trips in WA offers a great starting point.
Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support and health care. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as MyHome Clean, Cosh Living and Biogone to help them reach their business goals.