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Whether your trip is a weekend, a week, a month, or longer, there are certain skills you need for overlanding.
Obviously, you need to be competent behind the wheel and have some measure of navigational skills (including the ability to read a map and use a compass). But apart from these basic tasks, what should you know how to do for an overlanding trip?
Below, I’ve outlined three skills you need for overlanding.
You Should Have Basic Mechanic Skills
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You don’t have to be a certified mechanic, but having some basic skills under your belt certainly won’t hurt.
In particular, get educated on how to address common problems you might encounter on your trip, from changing a flat to addressing a broken shock to changing the spark plugs.
There are a wealth of online resources for you to learn these essential skills, many of which are completely free (like YouTube!). Your local college likely offers introductory mechanics classes, too. Of course, the key is to practice these skills before you leave, that way you have some experience under your belt.
Likewise, build up your overlanding toolkit, that way you have all the necessities to address the common issues you’re going to learn how to fix. It doesn’t make any sense to learn how to change your spark plugs if you don’t have a socket set in your truck.
Skills You Need for Overlanding: First Aid
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First aid skills are an absolute must for your overlanding trip. All sorts of injuries can occur on an overlanding trip, from minor scrapes and cuts to more serious issues like dehydration or a broken bone.
What complicates matters is that you might be hours – if not days – from help, so it’s prudent to learn first aid skills from a wilderness perspective. To do this, a Wilderness First Aid Course is an ideal solution. One such course is offered by the Wilderness Medicine Institute at the National Outdoor Leadership School. Some of the skills this course will address include:
- Wound management
- Sprains and strains
- Spinal cord and head injuries; splinting broken bones
- Shock, heat stroke, hypothermia, and frostbite
- Allergic reactions and anaphylaxis
- Altitude sickness
- Building a first aid kit
- Evacuation plans and emergency procedures
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This is one area of skills you need for overlanding that you don’t want to overlook, nor do you want to do the bare minimum. It’s best to have a thorough understanding of how to address these common situations to ensure your safety and the safety of those with you.
Like any skill, though, you need to continually practice first aid to keep the procedures fresh in your mind. Practice first aid with your family and friends before you leave on your trip, that way you’re all confident in your skills.
Skills You Need for Overlanding: Planning and Preparation Skills are Underrated
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Even if your trip is just for a few days, there is still a ton of planning and preparation that has to take place. This means that having solid logistical skills will assist you in ensuring every detail of the trip is well-planned.
And this doesn’t just apply to things like making lists of gear you need or getting the right amount of food or supplies for your journey. It also includes checking on things like permits, campground fees, road conditions and closures, and whether or not your dog is allowed in the areas you want to explore.
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You should also understand things like the fuel range of your vehicle and how to manage food and water supplies in areas where food and water are scarce.
For longer trips, you might need to inquire about border crossings and the kind of documentation you need. You’ll need to determine what resources are available to you and where and how to get those resources, too.
Obviously there are a lot of other skills required for a successful overlanding trip, but these will certainly get you going in the right direction.
As noted earlier, practice is essential, whether it’s setting a broken bone, changing the oil in your vehicle, or communicating with locals in their native language. The more you practice and prepare now, the smoother your trip will be – and the more you’ll enjoy it!