It’s All in the Planning

In Articles, Sports & Hobbies, Technical by Glyn Demmer2 Comments

The trip was conceived around the fire, wives were barely consulted and two weeks later the group left. It was a disaster; the aftermath resulted in tents being sold and threats pertaining to future trips and camping. How realistic is this scenario? All to often we hear of the trip from hell and it’s consequences. As they say “poor planning equates to poor performance!
So when next around the fire and someone proposes a trip away with the 4×4’s and families take a step forward and bring about some discipline to ensure that a good time is had by all- either appoint yourself as the “leader” or get group consensus in this regard.
And give it some thought – don’t just appoint someone who has the coolest 4×4,look for someone who has done this type of thing before!
Then start a process:
• Get your proverbial ducks in a row and ensure that you have a plan that caters to every contingency especially if you are crossing borders.
• See that accommodation is booked and paid for by the group – suggest do this in the name of the tour leader.
• Check that you are aware of all the border protocols and have the necessary paperwork required for all members as well as vehicles
• Check that you have the necessary statutory requirements as well as any equipment such as reflective vests, warning triangles and fire extinguishers.
• See that the group is adequately insured, if crossing borders check the extent of cover and repatriation-talk to Cross Country in this regard.
• Plan your routes to include stops for meals especially if travelling with children- see that your maps on your GPS are up to date and include maps of neighbouring countries-if necessary install “T4A- Tracks for Africa”
• Do the necessary at home to ensure that your house and pets are looked after.
• Set realistic budgets for the trip, it’s no good if someone runs out of money as that negatively impacts on all, especially on a cross border trip.
• With load shedding see that you have someone who will check your DB board and/or Smart Meter as they often trip when power is restored. Turn off the geyser if going away for a long period and advise your security provider if your house will be unoccupied.
Here you need to look at the trip requirements and allocate specifics to various people (vehicles) in the group-it’s no fun if everyone has firelighters but no-one has charcoal.
• Allocate specific responsibilities pre trip i.r.o. catering,cooking,lighting and ablutions.
• Draw up checklists for the group to ensure that all are adequately prepared!
• Catering equipment and food.
• Clothing.
• Bedding.
• Accommodation (Tents and bedding if camping).
• First Aid.
• Travel folder with all ID documents, passports and travellers cheques/cards- (certified copies of all documents-copies of insurance and contact details of family at home)
• Toiletries.
• Maps and GPS.
• Clothing.
• Personals snacks especially for kiddies.
• Extra fuel.
• Water and drinks.
• Tools and spares.
• Recovery equipment.
Take charge of the trip it should be planned with set times and details.
• Where will the group get together?
• When will they meet and depart?
• Stops en route and an estimated time of arrival, ensuring that the group has adequate time to check in and set up camp before dark.
• If crossing borders arrive early to allow time to handle the paperwork and clear the group, take charge here!
• Apply convoy rules and ensure that they are adhered to.
• Daily planning is essential especially if the group is on the move between campsites, often and early start with coffee and rusks is best with the group stopping for brunch once underway
As a group leader you need to maintain control even if it means being firm.
• Adhere to planning.
• Ensure that people carry out their allocated tasks. Or if they swop out the plan is still in place.
• See that you stick to time if moving camps as a late departure will possibly result in a late arrival after dark with a good deal of unhappiness.
• Stay aware of individual requirements i.r.o. fuel and water as some vehicles may use fuel at a faster rate and may need to replenish.
• Control the trip until such time that you are able to relinquish the responsibility, this is generally when you are at a point that all can say their goodbyes and go their separate ways.
One could add a lot more to this but the principles are more important than the content-we would love it if you could share some tips with us! And enjoy yourselves out there, we live in a wonderful country with so much to see and do!

About the Author

Glyn Demmer

My first 4x4 was a Nissan Hardbody thereafter I started travelling all over the country. In 1992 we held a big 4x4 day with hundreds of Nissan families, and then the 4x4 bug really bit. A friend Monty Brett and I started running 4x4 courses at the Hennops Off-road Trail just outside of Johannesburg. At first we offered day-and-a-half courses that started on Friday afternoon and finished on Saturday afternoon. Hannes Grobler the Rally Ace regularly assisted, and we reached a nice balance between our two styles and our skills.


  1. Some of my best trips have happened this way. Perhaps the most memorable was phoning a friend for something completely different and the conversation drifting along the lines of “When last were you in Lesotho? Hey, let’s go to Lesotho for the upcoming long weekend.” The sum total of planning for this trip was an agreement to meet in the pub at Sani Top two days later.

    What ensued was a totally unplanned trip with no coordination apart from a vague agreement to meet and take things from there. What ensued involved two of the best bush camps I’ve ever camped in – forced by some pretty inaccurate maps and a GPS reading error.

    The great thing about an unplanned trip is that everything goes according to plan.

  2. Author

    Henk, I can not dispute that but then you clearly know your travel companions and how to enjoy yourself!

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