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Britz Outback 4WD interior with couple driving

10 Things You Need to Know Before a 4WD Holiday

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First time on the road in a 4WD? You're in for an experience like no other! With a little prep, you'll feel like an intrepid explorer – carving your own path in the Aussie outback. And remember, if you find yourself stuck (literally or figuratively!) help is never far away. Here are our top 10 tips to consider.

Oysters Family at the beach Salad

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1. Leave plenty of time to get from A to B

The distances may look short, but on dirt roads the travel time is likely to be longer than you expect and that’s part of the attraction. When you are in a beautiful place, you probably won’t want to rush – and often won’t be able to. In some sections you might be breezing along at 60kph, while in others you will be at walking pace. Either way you won’t be bored, but leave plenty of time to take it at your own pace and stop and enjoy. You may also find yourself needing to make awkward water crossings, which can take time. Take a look at our tips for crossing water in a 4WD for extra info.

2. Always carry spare fuel and water

Low speeds and travelling on dirt and rough terrain uses a lot more fuel than rolling down the highway. Even though you may not use it, it’s always smart to have a couple of 20 litre jerry cans of spare fuel. Make sure you store them upright and pack them tightly in, or tie them down so they don’t tip over or move too much. Close to home, tip them in the tank and don’t forget a jerry can pourer or funnel. Water is an obvious no brainer – don’t find yourself without it. Carry 20 litres as a bare minimum.

3. Carry a shovel

A long-handled shovel is much easier to use than any short-handled one and will still fit in the cargo section of the car. The best type is a posthole shovel (made for digging) not a square mouth (made for shovelling loose stuff). Besides helping to get you out of a bog or to cross a rut, a shovel has a thousand uses: digging a fire pit, or putting one out, lifting the top off a camp oven, or a toilet stop, just to name a few.

4. Cleanliness is critical

Not paying attention to personal cleanliness in the bush can mean getting sick – a sure party stopper. In particular you need to make sure everybody washes their hands carefully after going to the toilet. That means with detergent and both sides up to above the wrist and always before preparing or handling food. Make sure everyone who will be handling food knows the drill, especially if they are an inexperienced bush traveller.

5. Pack a medical kit

This doesn’t mean being prepared for Armageddon, just the normal range of things that you may need. As a quick guide this should include the following:

Band-Aids (in different sizes), bandages x 4 (two wide ones, 50mm wide for snakebite), pain relief, antibiotics (get a prescription), anti-inflammatory tablets and gel, anti-histamine tablets (for allergies), arm sling, iodine, cotton wool (sticks and buds), antidiarrhoeal medicine, wet wipes, antiseptic cream, cortisone cream, first aid book, scalpel with two spare blades, small surgical scissors (in sterile pack), zinc cream and Vaseline (for chafing). You can go much further from there. All Britz vehicles come with a first aid kit, which is $35 if opened, which you hopefully won’t need to!

6. Consider an insect-proof eating area or pack some Aeroguard

Depending on where you are going, this can pay big dividends in your overall enjoyment. Insect-proof open tents are sold at many outdoor stores and will allow you to eat, relax and enjoy the view without these critters bothering you.

7. Pick your container size and type for what is going to go in it

Our vehicles come with storage containers, to make it easier to pack. Have a purpose for each (food, cooking gear, clothes) to help you keep organised. Soft food containers like snap-lock bags also give better space efficiency as you can compress and shape them to fit a spot. You don’t need access to all your food at once so maybe have two containers: an 'eating now' and a 'reserve'. Always pack your clothes in soft bags for more efficiency.

8. Pack frequently used things where you can get at them

This is common sense and over the period of your trip you will evolve the perfect way to pack your stuff in your vehicle. That said, at least start by putting things you think you might need frequently where you can get at them. The Britz Outback also features side-canopy openings for easy access. A few essential items can go in the back seat such as extra clothes, a towel and hat. Maybe you could have a small adjustable spanner, torch and a fully charged lantern in a box where you can grab them - ideally in a secure box, not rolling around the floor.

9. Take time to work through your navigation before you go

It’s a lot easier to work through your trip at the dining room table than it is to do this under a headlamp on the side of a steep mountain track when light is fading and you are not where you are supposed to be. When you have chosen your trip (even if you have a GPS) take time to study the map, to read the track notes, and make your own, of distances, landmarks and time brackets. This will make it a lot easier for you to just enjoy the drive, knowing exactly where you are when you are out and amongst it.

10. Carry a small axe, a bush saw and a fire glove(s)

A bush saw (or bow saw) has a thin blade and a large bowed handle so you can cut large-diameter timber with it. A mid-size axe is handier than a full-size one, but larger and more useful than a tomahawk. In areas and times of the year when you can light a fire, these are more than handy. They give you a tidier, more user-friendly fire and also mean you burn less wood, but they need to be used properly and safely. Lastly, packing a normal pair of leather work gloves will allow you to grab a hot handle quickly – fleece-lined are even better.

Now that you know what to expect and you're ready to plan your trip, take a look at our essential 4WD holiday packing list!

And remember if you have any questions, you can ask the Britz experts before your travel, or at the branch when you pick up your camper!