How safe are you? GPS trackers for the regular traveller.

Submitted: Monday, May 15, 2017 at 12:16
ThreadID: 134868 Views:3071 Replies:3 FollowUps:1
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I have a GPS tracking device and would highly recommend one to any regular traveller. By tracking device I mean a device that regularly transmits your GPS position as you travel to a satellite and that, that information is then available via the internet to anyone with the URL address.
Mine is a SPOT 2 device which I have had for four years. I pay a subscription to SPOT which is a US based company and cost about $245 pa. This unit has now been superseded but still does the job. It sends my position every 10 minutes using the Globalstar network, but newer ones are capable of more often if you want it. In four years, it has been both very reliable and accurate.
There are several ways to access my tracking.
1. Is via the SPOT website which I do not use as I do not see it as very user friendly.
2. If you are an ExplorOz member you can link it to EOTrackMe and it can be seen on the ExplorOz website. I use this feature.
3. You can use the Spotwalla website, which I do, and highly recommend. I find it to be very user friendly and has some good additional features.

Why have a tracking device? In one word – safety. My personal safety is the highest thing on my priority list which is why I have one. I also have a satellite phone and a PLB. With both the satellite phone and a PLB, they require you to be physically able to use them. Should something occur to you that you where unable to use either of these devices then help will not arrive (other than by chance) until someone notices you are missing and starts a search. With a tracking device it is known exactly where you are located. This could save a full blown rescue mission and a time of anguish to others until you are found. If you are alive this time saving could save your life, and if not alive, then hopefully you are found before the animals find you.

As I am well into my 70's my family get great comfort knowing where I am and that as I am moving it fair to say I am OK. My tracker also has an “OK” button which I press at the end of each day and it sends an “OK” message to the person('s) of my choice. I also have a ground charlie to keep a watchful eye on me. This is particularly important for those times I am travelling as one vehicle.
When I am travelling with others I share where to find the tracking information with my fellow travellers, who in turn share it with their families. This has proven to be very popular.

The Spotwalla site is flexible in the level of detail shown and is FREE. You can choose the percentage of GPS locations shown. If you choose say 25% and zoom the map out you get a good idea of the total journey. If you choose 100% you can zoom in and see which side of the road one camped on. For my travels this year, starting in June I have preloaded my planned route. This enables my family and friends not only to see where I have been, but also where I plan to go.
As examples here are two links;
This is my travels last year. Rolling the mouse wheel should zoom in and out. To adjust the fill rate click the down arrow against the name in the top left hand corner, goto “Adjustments”, change the “% Fill”, click update.
These are my travel plans this year starting in May. You can see a trip I have just done from NSW to Melbourne. It also shows my planned travels for this year which I have broken into four legs. 1. the cyan line from Echuca to Mataranka, 2. the green line from Mataranka to Cairns via Weipa. 3. the yellow line from Cairns to Alice Springs. And 4. the green line from Alice Springs to Ceduna via Newman and Marble Bar. I write this in May 2017 so viewing this link after June will also show my actual travels overwriting these planned routes.

These GPS trackers are relatively small and should you leave your vehicle you should take it with you. Also most of these trackers have an emergency button. When this is pressed an alert is immediately picked up by the SPOT company in the US who in turn alert The Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Canberra. This is the same as activating a PLB only that it has an extra step in the process.

In summary I very highly recommend to any regular outback traveller to have a personnel GPS tracker and use the Spotwalla website as one of the avenues of following your travels. I do not see this as a substitute for either a PLB or satellite phone, you need all three.

Safe travels,

What other people think of me is none of my business.
Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

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Reply By: skulldug - Monday, May 15, 2017 at 17:45

Monday, May 15, 2017 at 17:45
Chris, Thanks for the write-up. I enjoyed reading it.

I couldn't agree that you need all three though. When you leave the vehicle, do you take your PLB as well as the spot tracker? That's enough to make you fall over and need your sat phone :)


AnswerID: 611120

Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Monday, May 15, 2017 at 20:36

Monday, May 15, 2017 at 20:36
To clarify what I mean, you take all three. If you leave your vehicle, you decide what you take, if any, depending on what you intend doing and the associated risks. Hope this helps.
What other people think of me is none of my business.
Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, May 15, 2017 at 21:14

Monday, May 15, 2017 at 21:14
Hi Chris

Good post and I hope it gets through to those people that travel without any form of emergency equipment.

I must get my Spot into action.


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AnswerID: 611128

Reply By: Member - Leigh (Vic) - Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 22:38

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 22:38
Hi Chris, couldn't agree with you more. Fantastic little device. Cheers
AnswerID: 611152

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