Before I get too far into this article I want to come clean and mention that even with the best intentions I have found myself working on 4WDs and packing for a trip right up until the early hours of the morning just before a trip, more times than I can remember. However, this isn’t ideal planning and something I really try my best to avoid because I’m a big believer in the better you’re organised before a trip, the better it will be.

I remember once helping put a gearbox into the Dirty 30 the night before a DVD trip, while across the workshop Brenno was bolting in a new second hand engine. Not really the sort of last minute things you want to be doing hours before you’re supposed to be hitting the tracks for a couple of weeks.

Now with any luck you have a big trip planned for the not so distant future and if you haven’t, I strongly suggest you get cracking because we all need something to look forward to! A few months out from a trip the planning for me starts. I make a list of things that need attention on my vehicle, this list stays on the fridge and I find myself constantly adding to this list for a good month.

I strongly suggest that you get the vehicle in good health as soon as possible and never leave this to the last minute. Nothing ruins a trip like mechanical issues, and while you can’t completely protect yourself you can really reduce the chance. You really want to have the vehicle ready for the trip at least two weeks before you set off. Planning with this sort of time frame will allow for parts to take longer than expected, mechanics to stuff things up and stuff you around and to fix other last minute things that seem to pop their head up just before a trip.

Once I have the vehicle trip ready I like to drive it as much as I can in the two weeks leading up to a trip, chances are your 4WD is your daily driver so there should be no problems there. Turn your fridge on for that two weeks and ideally have the 4WD packed with all your camping gear. Driving your vehicle around fully loaded as if you were on your trip, will highlight any problems like overheating etc.

On the topic of camping gear, be sure to pull everything out and unroll swags/tents etc two weeks before the trip and make sure everything is in order. If I took more notice of this rule I wouldn’t have spent two weeks last year in the bush without swag poles and another two weeks in a mouldy swag. Check everything before packing into your 4WD.

A day before I head away I will do the food shopping. I will only buy non-perishable items and meat that I can vacuum seal (get your butcher to do it for you if you don’t have a cryovac machine) and pack it straight into my 12V fridge. The more stuff you can pack into your fridge, the more efficient it will run. If you don’t vacuum seal your meats, just be well aware of use by dates. I won’t mention any names, but a well-known little hairy fella from WA bought some chicken on our last trip to the Kimberley that had to be thrown out on the second night of a two-week trip and we were a dinner down. We always allow a spare dinner now and enough tin food to get us out of strife should something major go wrong.

The last night before a trip should be to pack some socks and jocks and get a good night sleep.

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