What to pack on a road trip: Top tips from a 4x4 specialist

A good trip begins at home, by packing the right equipment

Reuben Van Niekerk
Road trip checklist
4x4 specialist

Having the correct vehicle and packing it correctly for your holiday road trip can mean the difference between a good holiday and a great holiday, especially if you will be venturing off the beaten track.


“Before deciding on what off-road vehicle to buy, Mitsubishi brand ambassador Francois Rossouw advises that planning your off-road adventure with the family determines what vehicle you are going to need,” says 4x4 specialist Francois Rossouw. It is important to decide what you want to do and where you want to go before you decide what vehicle to buy.


Packing for that trip

Many people think the more, the better and the tendency is to pack too much, including equipment or gear you might never use. However, there are a few things that need to be in every off-road vehicle regardless of where you want to go or what you want to do.


A first aid kit

Going off-road means that you will probably be far away from immediate medical help, so having the basics in the event of a mishap is extremely important. “Giving the wrong treatment or medication is often more dangerous than doing nothing, so my kit contains no prescription medication of any kind. I carry headache tablets, anti-inflammatory medication, something for diarrhoea, ointment for insect bites, paraffin gauze for burns, over the counter medication for scratches, plasters and bandages and basic equipment to splint a broken arm or leg. I also carry disinfectant for wounds, over the counter cough medicine, ointment for sunburn, basic cold medication, definitely some antihistamine and general eye drops and because of Covid-19, I always have sanitiser in the vehicle,” says Rossouw.



Unlike the regular licence and registration often seen in the movies, South Africans do always have to carry a driver’s licence when they are behind the wheel. Also, check that the vehicle’s licence disk is still valid. If you stay within the national borders, you do not need other documentation, but when you travel to neighbouring countries or deeper into Africa, you will need the documentation for your vehicle, including the registration certificate and your passport. Each country’s entry requirements can differ, so do some research before departing.



Don’t rely on your mobile phone’s GPS app, one of the reasons you’re going on an adventure is to get away from it all and good cell phone signal will most likely not be available. Some vehicles have built-in units. Regardless of the device, make sure you download the latest version of maps such as Tracks4Africa. A good old paper map of the area in which you are travelling is also a great backup. We live in Africa, a road that was tarred a few years ago might now be an off-road challenge, so make sure you know where you are going.


Recovery equipment

If you plan to go off-road, make sure you have the right recovery equipment for that area. A winch is not always necessary but items like a snatch rope and towrope can be helpful.


Tools and spares

Most vehicles have a spare wheel, a jack and a wheel spanner as part of the standard equipment. Modern vehicles rely on a myriad of electronics so chances are that if something does go wrong you probably won’t be able to fix it, but something small, like a blown fuse, can easily be replaced. The same goes for things like silicon tape for a leak. Make sure you pack the basics and have the details of your dealer on hand in the event of an emergency.


Before you go

Always test and double-check everything before you go on a trip, but do not leave it until the day of your departure. Ensure that the vehicle is properly serviced and tested, check the spare wheel, tyre pressures, water and oil levels, lights and plugs and even things like brake fluid.