Top tips for staying safe when towing off-road.
Off-road caravans and camper trailers are becoming more and more popular amongst adventure-loving Aussies. But there are a few things that you need to consider before towing off-road to ensure you, your passengers, your fellow road users and your gear all remain safe and sound. Here are our eight top safety tips for towing off-road.
Like any skill, towing a caravan is something that needs to be learnt and practiced. Towing off-road adds additional complexities that are best explained by an accredited instructor at a reputable driver training school. Completing an off-road towing course will give you an armoury of skills and knowledge to help you make smart decisions while out adventuring.
Preventative maintenance is an excellent way to protect your caravan and tow vehicle from damage off-road. It’s best to book in for a service before you set off on your adventure, especially when you’re planning on driving off-road for extended periods. This will allow you to rectify any minor issues at home before they become major issues when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Once you’re on the road, conduct regular checks of your vehicle’s fluids, oil and air filter, and your trailer’s hubs, nuts and bolts.
Even roads that are well-graded and frequented by caravaners can deteriorate quickly in bad weather events, so it’s best to check the current condition of whatever roads you plan to drive before setting off on your trip. You can do this by phoning local visitors’ centres, national parks or roadhouses in the area – depending on where you’re travelling. If you’re planning to camp at a working station, property holders are excellent sources of information on local road conditions, so give them a call. And if in doubt, opt for your Plan B itinerary.
It might seem adventurous to turn the nose of your vehicle down an interesting-looking road that you’ve happened upon by chance, but unless you know what that road will lead to and what condition it’s in, it’s best to avoid it when you’ve got a caravan in tow. Road condition can quickly go from ‘looks fine’ to ‘rough as guts’. The track might become tight and overgrown, with little or no spots to make a safe U-turn. Not a happy position to be in with a caravan on the back. When it comes to picking your tracks, it’s always better the devil you know – or have researched.
Not all insurance providers will cover your caravan and/or tow vehicle once you leave sealed roads. If you plan to drive off-road, it’s a very good idea to find an insurer that will cover your set-up adequately. You’ll want to find a policy that offers coverage on- and off-road throughout Australia inclusive of your gear, aftermarket accessories and vehicle modifications, with suitable off-road recovery included in the premium. Club 4×4 insurance is a great option because it’s designed for off-road enthusiasts, which is most decidedly what we are. But, as always, it’s best to shop around to find the right insurer for your specific requirements.
Being able to communicate with other vehicles in your touring convoy and other road users in general is vital for road safety, but in many environments where you’ll be towing off-road you’ll find little or no mobile phone coverage. For that reason it’s best to install a quality UHF radio in your vehicle. That will enable you to warn members of your convoy of road hazards or oncoming vehicles, and to plan roadside stops so drivers in your convoy know what to expect and when. You’ll also be able to communicate with other road users including fellow caravaners and truck drivers, which is handy when it comes to planning safe overtaking manoeuvres and checking upcoming road conditions. And, in the event of a serious incident or breakdown in remote areas, a UHF can be a lifeline, enabling you to reach local authorities and/or landholders who can provide help.
While we’re on the subject of clear communication, even if you have a UHF installed in your vehicle it’s a good idea to carry one or two handheld UHF radios, too. If a passenger needs to get out of the vehicle to guide the driver through a tricky spot or assist in a vehicle recovery, it helps immeasurably if they can communicate clearly and calmly with the driver. Wild, ambiguous hand gestures and yelling over the sound of a straining diesel engine does not equate to clear, calm communication. Similarly, once you arrive to camp, a passenger with a handheld UHF radio can be very useful in guiding the driving into position.
Many road users have cottoned on to the fact that it’s safest to drive with headlights on, even during the day. After all, it can’t hurt. But this becomes particularly important when towing off-road in dusty conditions. Dust stirred up by other vehicles can make vision very difficult, so ensure you can be seen by other road users by flicking your headlights on when you leave the blacktop – if they weren’t on already, of course.
Club 4X4 was formed around a campfire, when a group of like-minded 4X4 enthusiasts made…LEARN MORE
There are millions of people around the world who use Dometic products. You all have…LEARN MORE
Whether it has been winning over 350 Grand Prix races or being the first tyre…LEARN MORE
The McHitch Uniglide Trailer Coupling has been developed to be an all purpose coupler for…LEARN MORE
Based in Lonsdale, REDARC has 40 years experience in the research, design, development and manufacture of…LEARN MORE
Uniden has grown to be a global leader in wireless communications and a major global…LEARN MORE
We opted for multiple electrical products from industry leader, REDARC, and they didn’t let us down. Here’s how we set up our vans.
A UHF radio is a vital piece of safety equipment that can be a lifeline on the road. But do you know how to use it properly?
Chef Macca likes his steak hot and fast – with Bunya nut dukkha, if you please!
Keep your eyes on your campsite from wherever you happen to be exploring.
Use up the leftover veggies in your caravan’s fridge with this simple and delicious dish.
An easy and delicious curry to bring a smile to your holiday dial
There’s more to keeping your RV’s fridge cool in summer than just plugging it in. Here are our top tips.
You may have passed ‘RV Friendly Town’ signs many times, but do you know what it means?
Stan’s simple smoked salmon, camp style.
During our Foodie Trail to the Far South Coast of NSW, Tim met up with local smoking legend, Stan Soroka from Eden Smokehouse. Stan creates and sells beautiful smoked meats, from salmon and chicken to mussels and trout.
Here, Stan shows Tim just how simple it can be to smoke your own salmon – even while camping!
An easy bread recipe from our friends at Eastwood’s Deli and Cooking School in Bermagui.
Healthy and delicious, ricotta is the simplest cheese to make.
A scrumptiously simple, one-pot mussel recipe.
The dos and don’ts with caravan grey water.
Yes, it does matter. Here’s why.
When it comes to positioning your caravan for both, it’s all about location, location, location.
A tasty seafood entree to share with friends.
Ezytrail’s first hard-top off-road caravan makes touring a breeze.
After six weeks on the road, the Foodie Trails team gives this robust off-road hitch the tick of approval.
A favourite on the menu at Grazing at Gundaroo, in the Yass Valley.
These perfect, crunchy chips are a winner at camp.
It takes more than just a lick of checkerplate to make a caravan an off-roader. Here’s what to look for when buying an off-road caravan.
They may seem obvious when they’re written down – and that’s our point: to help you avoid these mistakes! Check out our top tips for a pre-trip checklist
Plus download the lists we’ve compiled, print them out and use them so they become second nature – happy travels.
You’ve arrived at that scenic campsite, but getting into the best spot requires a bit of manoeuvring. Here’s how to do it without looking like a doofus.
As popsicles or frozen in a bowl, this cheat’s berry ice-cream is perfect for those summer afternoons at camp.
This classic family favourite is the perfect way to feed a crowd at camp.
A tasty dish with a bit of zing, sure to be a crowd pleaser and in only 20 minutes.
When tyres are made they are not perfectly balanced nor perfectly round.
An easy, delicious crowd pleaser you can prepare at home and throw on the barbecue at camp