How to prepare for and recover on a solo trip

By Jess Olson 9 Min Read

So, you’re a solo, lone wolf? I get it. Sometimes there’s nothing better than setting off on an adventure with vehicle occupants: me, myself and I. Personally, I’m feeling on top of the world… until I find myself bogged. With only me in the car, it’s suddenly a lot more difficult to get myself out of a sticky situation. Could I have prepared better? Probably. Can I get myself out of this? With the below tips, I reckon so!


1) Stay calm

Sometimes the idea of solo recovery is much more overwhelming than it is in reality. Sure, you’re on your own and in the bush, but a winch is a winch whether you’re surrounded by mates or not, right? Take a deep breath, don’t panic and remember what you’ve practised time and time again in a group.

Naturally, being a solo adventurer means you have limited options. There isn’t another vehicle on deck to snatch or winch you, which typically is how we’re assisted when bogged. You don’t have another set of eyes to figure out what’s happening underneath the vehicle. And who’s going to guide you as you drive? No one. We’ve established that the difficulty level has increased, but we’ve already promised not to panic. So what’s the next step?

2) Work out what has you stuck

Don’t take any action just yet. Work out what exactly has gone wrong and what has resulted in you becoming stuck. Take a look around the vehicle via a few laps and also work out where you need to go to get yourself out of this situation. Taking a moment to evaluate will ensure you’re not making things worse.


Man digging sand out from under his wheels
Image via Anaconda

3) Figure out what you’re working with

Make a quick list of what you have in the vehicle that could assist your recovery. Let the creative juices flow and work out what you can do with what you’ve got. Have you got a shovel? Try to dig into the ground with it. If you’ve forgotten one, use a nearby branch or get creative with what you find around you.

Aim to clear as much excess mud or sand as you can from around your tyres. Expect to put some muscle into it as solo digging is likely to be more strenuous and time consuming. However, progress is progress so most of all just keep moving and taking breaks to work out whether you’re getting somewhere or making things worse. If it’s the latter, reassess your strategy.

4) Lower the tyre pressures

In most cases of being bogged, dropping your tyre pressures down will help. The exception to this is when you need clearance as traction isn’t an issue. Typically though, you’ll find lower pressures will help as decreasing your tyre pressure increases your tyres’ surface area. This then increases the tyres’ contact patch with the sand or mud which could help you gain the traction required to get unstuck. Once out, don’t forget to inflate again!

Image via Anaconda

5) Redistribute weight

No, I’m not body shaming you here. I’m talking about the contents of your vehicle. Have you got some heavy items in there that could be moved? Try to redistribute weight in the vehicle to place extra weight over the drive wheels. Aim to push this weight past the wheels to cantilever the weight by increasing downward force. This method is particularly effective for rear-wheel drive vehicles.

6) Wait

Ever heard the saying “time heals all wounds”? I’m not talking about your recent relationship breakup here. Over time, tracks do tend to change. You’ll find that the wet tracks begin to dry out and the hot sandy one’s cool down. This may make things a bit easier to get out of. Plus, time is good for some creative thinking so that some more ideas appear in your mind.


7) Don’t leave your vehicle unless…

Typically, we wouldn’t advise you to leave your vehicle. The one exception to this is if you’re sure you can walk to safety, factoring in both the distance and the outside temperature. If you’re stuck in the outback and the sun is blistering hot, it’s not going to be a good idea to head out alone. Sleeping unprotected in the bush is going to be putting yourself at risk to whatever comes your way throughout the night. Your vehicle can offer you protection from the elements and any critters that are living on the land around you. It’s better you stay put.


8) Contact help via your PLB

I’m hoping you packed your PLB (personal locator beacon) for the trip. We go on about them all the time, and for good reason. They’re highly recommended for anyone travelling to a remote location with little to no signal. We’ve probably all realised by now that as great as technology is, it’s not perfect. Batteries run out, reception evaporates and software malfunctions. A mobile phone certainly would not be my choice for a safety device. Both compact and lightweight, a PLB when activated, sends a signal to emergency services. It’s your lifeline that’s going to contact emergency services for help when you realise you may not be getting out of the spot you’re stuck in. With a strong battery life, it’s highly recommended you bring a PLB on any trip you head off on.

9) Plan better for next time

I don’t mean to be a negative Nelly, but you should pretty much always assume something’s going to go wrong. Never go off-road assuming everything will go to plan. You’ll be sorely disappointed.

Sure, the challenges along the way that pop up can be good fun. But the bad ones that arise need to be dealt with safely and sensibly. One way to plan better is to make sure a first aid kit is always in the vehicle. Best case scenario is that you never need it. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Also ensure you’ve got more food and water than you should need. There’s no need to become a doomsday prepper and fill the back seat with 100 cans of tuna. Simply pack a few extra days worth of tucker. Make it there and back alive and you’ve got meals for the next few days. It’s a win, win scenario I reckon.

Solo adventures are awesome. Nothing but you, your vehicle and the great outdoors. You can have the time of your life on your own, then return with a bunch of yarns to tell your mates and family. The biggest thing is just that: returning. With these tips on how to prepare for a solo trip and recover on your own, we reckon you’ll be far better off. Got any tips of your own? Shoot us a message on Facebook or Instagram and let us know.

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