Spot the Tracker

When we made the decision to begin our trip around Australia, safety was one of our main planning considerations. We thrive on going to very remote places where a lot of the time it is just the two of us and if an accident or a snake bite was to happen – how would we ensure we were able to contact emergency services?

Our first purchase was a satellite phone which we decided, due to its bulkiness, was fine for in the car or near the camp but there was still a question over how we could ensure our safety when out bushwalking or in the case of an emergency where we didn’t have time or couldn’t set up the sat phone.

So along came the Spot Satellite GPS Messenger which fitted our requirements to a tee. It is a light and well designed battery operated device which can be used to send, via satellite:

– Check in/OK messages to a defined list of friends/family
– Custom messages
– GPS Coordinates to track progress in real time via Google Maps
– Help messages in the case of a non-life threatening emergency
– SOS to alert emergency services in the case of life threatening emergencies

SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger

SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger

How do we use it?

We bought a SPOT window mount from Ram Mounts and while we are travelling SPOT sits in the corner of the passenger side (left) of the windscreen. This is the best location in the car to ensure satellite signal. It is also positioned there so we can easily grab it in the case of an emergency. When we go bushwalking we use the armband to carry SPOT around.

Our daily use of SPOT is for the Track Progress functionality. We turn SPOT on every day we are on the move and friends and family log in to our (free) SPOT shared page to see where we are. We recently discovered however that this data gets deleted after 30days so have now set up a (free) SPOT Adventures account so we can save our tracks and add pictures to locations after the trip. We are still experimenting with exporting this data to Google Earth – it is possible but we haven’t found a use for it yet.

We have also configured a Custom Message which can be sent to Paul’s work incase we are stuck off-road and he is unable to get to work. And we have configured and use the Check in/OK button to update close friends and family with a custom message as we are travelling. The non-emergency Help option is configured on the account but most likely we would use the Sat phone first in a non-emergency situation.

In summary these are the pros and cons we have encountered with SPOT:


1. Its small and light and can be carried easily when walking (in an armband) and works well mounted on the car windscreen

2. The Track Progress functionality is fantastic – especially by setting up a Share Page so family and friends can log in and see where you are.

3. SPOT Adventures is a great way of attaching photos to your saved tracks after your trip

4. The cost is low – $195 for the device plus $120 for the plan.

5. The ability to easily personalise Check in/OK and non emergency messages on SPOT’s online page.

6. The design – clip on emergency tabs ensure you can’t accidentally hit the emergency button


1. When using the Tracking functionality (with Lithium batteries) with SPOT switched on from approx 7am-5pm everyday the batteries lasted 6 days max. Not exactly a ‘con’ but make sure you’ve plenty of spare batteries. Unfortunately the Lithiums are pretty expensive.

2.Track Progress data is only stored for 30 days – make sure you set up a method of saving the data after 30 days. We use SPOT Adventures to save our trips after we lost some of the data from the first few days of our trips.

3. We found that on some occasions the Check in/OK messages and Track Progress messages were not being sent for no obvious reason – we were in open space and followed the instructions as required.

All in all I would highly recommend SPOT for peace of mind while travelling in remote areas of Australia.

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