CAMPERVANNING WITH A PRE-SCHOOLER

Another year of vanning with our little one and all of a sudden she’s now a little girl.  Although even more enjoyable we feel that she almost needs more entertaining and communication than the 2 year old toddler of last year!

Although many of the tips suggested in our ‘Toddler’ blog are still relevant this year, we’ve got a few new tips and tricks we now use to make our campervanning trips more bearable, more enjoyable and more magical for everyone.

When are on the road and moving around often we find sitting down and clearly explaining every morning the plans for the day really helps.  WHAT’S happening today.   WHY we are leaving, WHERE we are going, HOW GREAT it will be for THEM when we get there (playground visit/beach etc) and WHAT EXCITING ACTIVITIES AND YUMMY SNACKS they can have in the car trip while we drive there.  Lot’s to look forward to!

You’ve probably heard this one before (and it’s also great at home J) but all anybody really wants is to feel useful so giving your pre-schooler the same little tasks to ‘help’ setting up/packing up each day will ensure they are kept busy and don’t get bored.  For us this means drying the dishes (but not the glasses or knifes!), watching us fill up the water tank and saying when it’s full and helping prepare food for meals.

This one’s clearly just our personal opinion but especially in Europe, you often see little kids up later than I’d usually go to bed.  Great until they wake up at ‘normal time’ in the morning and are cranky and tired the whole next day. We try to keep the same routine as much as possible as close as possible to the same one we have at home.  This means the same time eating dinner, same before bed routine at the same time, same morning routine.

When travelling we try to integrate one activity into our day, every day, that our little one loves ie some beach time building a sandcastle or going for a swim, otherwise as per our toddler blog, we usually google ‘Playground’ on google maps and make a trip to the closest one even if it’s just for half an hour.

3.5 years of age and our tried and tested driving activities are as follows:

  • Sticker books.
  • Puzzles (the ones from Ravensburger that you can do the puzzle in the box lid are great for car trips!).
  • Crayola washable textas.
  • The free but invaluable Australian kids apps Kinderling or ABC radio (you’ll also need kids head phones, the JBL ones are great).

 

Some of our must have healthy snacks:

Vegetable juice.  Tinned tuna.  Tinned baked beans.  Tinned corn.  Cheese sticks.  Cucumber.  Tomatoes.  Peanut butter.  Wholegrain healthy crackers.  Avocado.

This last tip is contradictory to our campervanning values and campervan life in general BUUUUT….Bring as many of your little one’s favourite toys on the trip as you possibly can.  This goes against minimalism and packing light and everything we believe in but at the end of the day you want them to feel ‘at home’ in your home on the road and moving from place to place is disconcerting enough for them.  On our most recent 5 week trip we took 3 out of 4 favourite soft toys, with melancholy and sadness for ‘home’ rearing its head after about week 1 because she ‘missed the left behind toy’.  We ended up organising grandma to drive to our house, post the fluffy purple unicorn in the mail to the campground we thought we’d be at in about x weeks time.  Nuff said.  Lesson learnt.  Bring their favourite toys/dress ups/lego/clothes/dinosaurs/everything so they don’t have anything to ‘miss’ back home.  Oh and make sure YOU pack super light!

Campervan Suspension Options

Wanting suspension to help navigate those dirt roads?  Your options are as follows:

 

VW Factory Fitted Options:

1BJ Heavy duty suspension is a reinforced version of the standard springs and dampers for more robust usage (eg semi-regular travel on unsealed roads).  The additional cost for this suspension is $510 and your van will be raised by 20mm.

 

1BB Rough road suspension is an alternate set of springs and dampers (harder) for even more robust requirements (eg regular travel on unsealed roads).  The additional cost for this suspension is $910 and your van will be raised by 20mm.

 

Aftermarket off-road suspension:

This option, organised by Achtung Camper includes top quality front and rear Bilstein shocks and Kings springs.  The additional cost for this suspension is $270-0 and your van will be raised by 30-40mm.

 

Upgraded All-terrain tyres:

How about some off road tyres to match your new suspension?  For an additional charge of $400 we’ll upgrade your standard tyres to Continental Grabber AT3 All terrain.

VW T6 LWB Van Suspenstion

VW T6 LWB Van Suspension

Do I need that Battery Management System thing and what is it?

No. You don’t NEED it. But if you are planning on doing mainly free camping/national park camping without 240 volt power then this system gives you piece of mind as it tells you exactly how much power you have left in hours if you continue doing exactly what you are doing at that point in time.

So if you are running a fridge and have a laptop plugged in it might for example say 4 hours. But then you plug in your solar blanket and it recalculates to 8 hours. Then your laptop battery is full and you unplug the charger and the system recalculates to 12 hours.

There are also other more simple options such as volt readers that you can plug into a 12 volt outlet and will tell you how many volts are left in your leisure battery.

VENTILATION OPTIONS IN YOUR CAMPERVAN

So many options at different price points and for different travelling styles!  The good news is that all options except the pop top roof can be purchased and fitted after your campervan is complete so you can see how you go with one and then add if you feel you need more ventilation after a few trips.

 

Pop top roof

Being in your van with the pop top roof windows open is similar to laying in a tent.

BUT:

  • If there is no breeze/wind it won’t cool down much (same as if you were outside an it was hot and still!).
  • If you have someone sleeping in the roof bed this will cut out a substantial amount of ventilation as it is like having an extra ceiling above your head (when you are down below!).

 

Sliding windows

An option when ordering your new T6 is to have the 2 windows in the front of the back (campervan) area as sliding.  There is an additional cost per window and it is not possible to have the far rear passenger side window as sliding.  This is a great option when adding the security/flysreen covers which might not look the prettiest but mean you can leave your sliding windows open at night but not have to worry about mozzies or safety issues.

Additional cost per window for sliding window (as opposed to fixed): $410

Cost per security/flyscreen cover per window: $190

 

Flyscreen for sliding door

A great option if you want to be able to leave your sliding door open but are worried about mozzies.

BUT:

  • If you are alone at night you might feel unsafe having the sliding door wide open with just a mesh zip up screen between you and the outside world!

Cost: $370

 

Back tailgate flysreen and tailgate latch

Similar to the flyscreen for the sliding door this allows you to have your tailgate open, letting a breeze through (if there is any!).  You can add a ‘tailgate lock’ which means the tailgate is ‘locked’ into place and unable to be accessed or opened by strangers but still leaving a fairly large gap for ventilation.

BUT:

  • If you are using the tailgate lock the gap for ventilation is not super wide but is still better than nothing!

Cost: $285

Rear tailgate latch $49

 

240 volt fan

This smallish fan runs off 12 volt power and doesn’t such much power at that, being a good choice.

BUT:

It’s a bit pricey for such a small fan!

It doesn’t look that pretty when fitted in the van.

Cost: $300

Achtung Campervan Vanning Adventurers – Part 1 Sue Hedley

In May 2016 my life changed forever. I found a beautiful campervan for sale at the right price from Achtung Camper. In the last 3 years I have travelled about 50,000 kms and had a ball. My favourite campsites are at outback stations and of course our amazing beaches.
I love Australia, I love living here and exploring this beautiful and diverse country.
Last year was my biggest trip starting at the Murray with many stops along the way ending in WA at Katherine, and then making my way back home to Point Lonsdale.

New experiences

I had my first ever helicopter ride which was over the Bungle Bungles. Such an amazing experience and I absolutely loved seeing everything from a bird’s eye view.
I have stayed in so many very different places but one of my favourites was Red Bluff Wilderness camp. The drive there was so bumpy I knocked off my water tank valve so had to trade tomatoes for drinking water.
At Port Neill I got a flat tyre… I tried to pump it up with my 12 volt pump but it blew the pump. Just my luck I thought.
My scariest experience? Ggetting chased by a croc at Timber Creek. I highly recommend setting up away from the river and away from the crocs!

Highlights

One of my favourite things was seeing the cliffs at the Southern Ocean. They were mind blowing!
I also went snorkelling at Coral Bay, it was beautiful, I highly recommend doing this if you are ever out this way. The water was so clear and there were so many amazing fish and coral to see.

Overall

I’ve met so many friendly people, I’ve faced mechanical issues, my dog got sick, I got sick, but these were things that also happen when you stay home!   I’ve enjoyed every minute of the long, long drives and have only just started exploring this amazing country.

 

Coffee Drinker? We’ve got the perfect product for you!

It can be hard travelling without your daily coffee or two but not to worry as we’ve found the perfect alternative for you – A Wacaco Portable Espresso Machine.

A Wacaco Nanopresso is a highly functional machine and is ideal for camping as it’s very small and easy to use. There are two models: one that uses ground beans and one that uses capsules.

All you need is ground beans, hot water and the Wacaco Nanopresso machine – it’s that easy!  This portable Wacaco doesn’t require electricity as it’s push powered by hand making it easy to control and use anywhere whether you’re at the beach or in the bush.

It also weighs only 336 grams so can be carried in your bag or taken on hikes for the real coffee addict.

We recommend trying this fantastic product on your next road trip to make your early mornings that little bit more enjoyable.

Why is our water tank gauge so awesome?

We are super excited about this product – the Voltronic Water Guage has a 3 colour display and is so accurate that LED lighting on the display gets slightly dimmer as water is used to show in detail and real time as the capacity diminishes.

But why is it so much better than other water gauges? It utilises one whole electrode that goes the entire length from the top to the bottom of the water tank so is able to tell you exactly how much water you have left.

Traditional water gauges used in campervans and caravans utilise an arm the length of the water tank that is fitted with 5 electrodes along the arm, meaning it is only able to tell you a vague estimate to the quarter as to how much water is remaining in the tank.

For more information on this product check out the website here:
https://www.votronic.de/index.php/en/products/level-measuring/tank-displays

ALL ABOUT COOKING IN YOUR CAMPERVAN

Because everyone travels differently we’ve got quite a few cooking options so there’s something to suit everyone!  Read about the different options below and find one that’s perfect for you J

 

Microwave:

A microwave would only be useful if you were planning on doing quite a lot of camping in powered campground spots (so you have 240 volt and can run it!).  Without plugging into a power source, a microwave is useless.

A side note – in such a small space (and especially if you get a SWB and are more than 1 person) you’ll welcome the extra storage cupboard you get if you decide against a microwave (we’ll fit a door to the microwave cavity in the cabinetry so you can use the space for storage).

 

Primus Kinja Butane 2 burner cooker:

This butane cooker is top of the range, Swedish made and is safer than your traditional gas cooker and also safer than traditional butane cookers due to the fuel source not being directly attached to the cooker itself but connected with a short line.

The other positives:

  • It doesn’t make the bottom of your pots and pans black (as the alcohol run stoves do).
  • The small butane bottles are super small and last weeks (and you only need to purchase the generic butane bottles not the more expensive branded ones). As a result, it doesn’t cause issue having it inside the van
  • It’s super light so at 3kg you can easily carry it over to a nice picnic bench nearby.
  • The easily removable grill make it the easiest cooker to clean that we’ve ever used.

 

The only negative?  You can’t cook inside with this cooker!

 

EcoHeat Smart Touch Induction Cooktop:

This is an option for those who want to be able to cook inside but without power.  The higher price associated with this cooker is because we will fit a very large 1600 watt inverter to your van so that this cooker can be used at all times even when you aren’t plugged into 240 volts.

The positives:

  • It can be used inside or outside as it’s very small and light.
  • A grill/ BBQ plate option is available.
  • It doesn’t get very hot but heats up quickly in around 5 minutes.
  • The 1600 watt inverter means you can use this cooker for about 9 meals before you’ll run out of power. The inverter also means you can use all 240 volt power points in your van and related 240 volt appliances when not plugged into power (for example you could use a kettle, hairdryer, microwave etc).

Negatives:

  • It must be plugged into the van when in use.
  • It comes as one plate only.

 

 

Our AMAZING Indoor and Outdoor Cinema Screen

We have the most innovative product to date – our campervan cinema has indoor and outdoor screens so the whole family can enjoy!

The custom-built screens are made to fit our campervans and are fitted inside the pop-up roof for an indoor cinema or attached to the awning for an outdoor cinema. The projector has Bluetooth and streaming capacity so you can watch any Netflix’s or movies straight from your laptop or phone.

Movies are displayed by a Nebula Capsule Portable Projector and screened onto our custom- build screen, the projector is a soda-can size and has a strong aluminium body which is light and durable. Nebula Projectors are 8 GB, have a series of controls on top, USB and HDMI port, 360-degree sound and produces a very bright and high-quality image.

On your next trip have your own personal cinema as it’s very easy and provides great entertainment for the whole family.

5 Tips for camping in hot weather!

Camping on scorching hot days is always a hassle and very uncomfortable for everyone but who doesn’t love traveling all year round! Summer can be fun and enjoyable if you prepare right. Here are 5 tips to make your trip more relaxing and pleasant on those hot 30o days. 

  1. Pack the right items – Pack wet towels as they are very handy to put around your neck to instantly feel refreshed. Freezing old juice bottles and containers is also a great item to pack and highly recommended as they can be used as ice-blocks and once melted used as water.  
  2. Carefully choose your clothes – The type of clothes is significant as some materials are thinner and better for hot weather. Packing loose clothing with breathable fabrics will reduce the temperature whilst traveling and make it more enjoyable. 
  3. Pick the right location – A spot under trees is perfect as it generates shade and reduces camper exposure to the sun. An ideal location is near a water source (lake, river, dam) as it decreases the temperature and creates a breeze.  
  4. Cover all windows – Keeping the inside of your van unheated can be difficult but simply using the curtains in the camper and putting towels/ reflective film up against windows will enhance shade and cooler air. It stops the sun from shining through and keeps the heat away. 
  5. Keep your Camper Cool – Unzip the roof and open the roof windows to allow airflow. Try not to open the doors as it allows some cool air to stay in. Also avoid activities that create extra heat therefore cook everything outside and relax with mates under a tree. 

That is our 5 tips for traveling in hot weather. Hopefully you find these helpful for your next trip in boiling 30o+ days. If all fails, you can always bring a fan! 

camping in summer