HELP! I’M CAMPING AND THE WEATHER IS BAD FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE

We’ve been stuck more than a few times with only a week or two of cherished holiday time, a campervan and BAD WEATHER.

So what to do when your stuck camping and the weather is bad? Will you stay or will you go? As weather predictions are often wrong and I’m sure you chose your current destination for some great reasons, you might want to stick it out a few days before you make the decision to bail for good and head somewhere dryer/warmer.

Our advice for sticking it out:

  • Did you bring some boardgames and a deck of cards with you? If not, go and buy some pronto!
  • Do you have a good book with you? I hope so!
  • How many bottles of red wine did you bring? Go and buy some more!
  • Do you feel like an antipasto platter for dinner with your wine? It will go down very well…and doesn’t require any cooking or washing dishes. A few different types of cheeses, cold cuts, dips and nice bread are just what the doctor ordered in this weather.
  • If you have an ipad, tablet or laptop with you then you really do have entertainment on tap for at least a couple of days in the form of unwatched movies and TV shows.
  • (If it’s possible) drive out of the camp spot and get the paper plus go for a coffee or lunch somewhere in a café or pub close by each day (prevents cabin fever).
  • Check out a map and see if there are any interesting towns or cities within an hour or two’s drive and somewhere nearby to camp. Towns and cities offer LOTS more to do during wet weather than your free camping national park experience.
  • Similarly, have a look if there are any wineries in the region – always a lot of fun.
  • Make a nice bonfire if it’s not raining all the time and toast some marshmallows. Trust me this is almost better than campervanning in warm weather!

Our advice for bailing:

  • Our first instincts when you’re camping and the weather is bad are always to just drive as far North from where we are as possible to escape any COLD we are trying to get away from. But think again before you use this tactic as it often rains more the further north you go, and that ain’t no fun at all. You might also only have a few days and don’t want to waste too much time driving further away from home.

A last thought to leave you with, you’re still in Australia…the weather isn’t really THAT bad…

camping in bad weather

If you have any tips on camping in bad weather please comment below!

For more camping related blogs visit http://achtungcamper.com.au/blog/

 

How to buy a campervan in Australia

By the time people come to us for a conversion they’ve pretty much worked out how to buy a campervan in Australia but there are other options available that many might not be aware of.

The question of budget really determines what options are available to you when looking to buy a campervan in Australia, with the cheapest options as follows:

  • Check out caravancampingsales.com.au and Gumtree.com.au for a well priced used campervan homemade or professionally built.
  • Purchase a used van on carsales.com.au and DIY the prerequisite basics (check out pinterest, instagram, Vanlife and a plethora of other DIY information on the internet for ideas and information):
    • Curtains
    • You can get an additional window fitted if required by avadirect.com.au
    • Throw a mattress and bedding of some sort in the back
    • Visit justkampers.com.au (make sure it’s the Australian website) for VW campevan accessories
    • Check out Ikea for some awesome small space storage options

If you have a little more cash to spend, but not the time, then buying a pre-made campervan might be right for you. Again, check out caravancampingsales.com.au for newer campervans for sale.

If you have the cash AND the time, and want a more personlised camping machine then you can buy a new or used van (or order your new VW T6 through Achtung Camper) then present to us for a customized conversion.

A laste note – many people come to us keen on purchasing a campervan however have never really spent time camping in a tent, campervan or otherwise. Our suggestion? Before you go splashing all that cash spend some time in the great outdoors and see how you like it. Yes camping in a tent is a little rougher but it’s pretty much the same concept and if you don’t enjoy being outdoors all the time in nature then campevanning is probably also not for you.

Similarly, if you’ve had a caravan before or are tossing up between a caravan or campervan take out quiz here: http://achtungcamper.com.au/blog/campervan-or-caravan/ to ascertain whether a campervan really is the correct travel machine for you.

One last thought to leave you with…

how to buy a campervan

Campervan accessories – websites and shops to check out when shopping for your campervan

You’ve got your campervan but now you need the accessories! Where to start?

We’ve put together a list of the best value shops and websites to check out before you start your journey.

Justkampers.com.au

This is a UK based VW campervan accessory online shop that has EVERYTHING you need and more. Now with an Australian online shop based in Sydney, they have van hardware to electrical items to the kitchen sink. Literally.

Ikea

Yes that’s right, Ikea. They have great storage solutions for small spaces plus amazingly cheap bathroom and kitchen accessories, in plastic and other travel safe materials. We’ve picked up amazingly compact clothes racks, magnetic spice rack containers and tiny portable LED alarm clock/temperature gauges just to name a few.

Ikea storage

Ikea storage

BCF, Rays Outdoors and Aussie Disposals

Although Aussies seem to win on price, they just don’t have the range that you’ll find in the other two stores.

BCF is handy when looking for outdoor shelters/tent style marquees to attach to either the side or back of your van.

Rays has a great selection of camping chairs, kitchen necessities and lighting options.

Jaycar

If you pass a Jaycar pop in and check out their range of camping accessories, most being electric. They have some great lighting options and power solutions and can usually help you with any advice you’ll need on getting the right product for you.

Our number 1 Australian camping spot is…

It’s the blog you’ve all been waiting for – our number 1 favourite camping spot of all time! And the winner is…..Green Patch in Jervis Bay, NSW.

This oasis is 2 hours south of Sydney, has amazing mountain bike and hiking tracks and the most beautiful beach we’ve ever seen.

Picture white sand, green blue ocean clear as can be with a gumtree framed river running into it.

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The camping is extremely private with each spot being in its own hidden area of lush forest. Facilities include hot water showers and drinking water which make this spot all the more attractive. It’s a large camping ground with areas for groups and many many private camping spots. We weren’t there during a busy holiday period but it was still half full and the beauty of this layout is that you won’t see any other people if you don’t want to.

Oh and did I mention the wildlife? We made friends with wallabies, kangaroos, possums and kookaburras.

Methylated Spirits camping cooker – product review

It seems that all the campervans for sale these days come with the same camping cooker – the Origo 3000 2 burner alcohol stove (available in Australia from Dometic). For those who have only ever cooked with gas we’ve got the lowdown on cooking with metho and why it seems to be the way of the future.

At about 10 times the price of a gas stove and the same size, you would be excused for doubting it’s value, however this cooker’s major benefit is a big one – No gas. No gas means no fumes, completely safe for inside cooking and no carrying around heavy and potentially dangerous gas bottles.

Fill up your alcohol cooker with 2 litres of metho before you leave for your trip and you’ll have enough fuel for a week of cooking. Don’t be deceived when you open the top of the cooker to fill it up with metho, it fits A LOT of liquid in there!

 

Pull out cooker in campervan conversion

The only downside that we’ve encountered is that they’re very slow cooking in windy conditions. If you are cooking outside, there’s a breeze and your water is taking AGES to boil then you’d be best to move the cooker inside out of the wind. We also supply a wind/weather protector with the cooker so you can use it outside in all conditions!

How does the leisure battery work in my campervan?

With an Achtung Camper campervan you will be fitted with a second leisure battery to run your campervan electrics from.  This works automatically and ensures that your main car battery will never run flat.    The leisure battery automatically charges whenever the car is running.

When stopping somewhere without power for a few days in your campervan (or if you don’t have a 240 volt connection in your van) you’ll be able to run your fridge, lights, TV, charge your mobile phone and laptop without a problem.  You will be able to stand stationary with your van and not turn it on for 2-3 days if it’s colder weather and about a day if it’s quite hot.  After a certain amount of time if you haven’t started the van and have been running all of these appliances your leisure battery will go flat.  You will notice if it’s flat because your fridge will turn off.

If you have noticed your leisure battery is flat have two options:

  • You can go for a long drive (3 hours minimum to fully recharge your battery).
  • You can idle your van for about 30 minutes to get it up to a good charge and then get your solar panels out and connect them which will recharge the battery.

If you are free camping and plan on spending longer periods in the one spot we’d suggest getting out your solar as soon as you arrive and placing it in a nice sunny position so you can forget about it and have unlimited power.

Camping essentials – the products you need for your trip

So you’ve looked at caravans and campervans for sale, you’ve bought your mode of transport and mapped out your route. What next? No matter where you are going or what your camping style, don’t leave home without these products!
o 2 x camping chairs (preferably the ones that fold together to store in a thin rod like shape as opposed to those that fold in half or otherwise).
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o A small fold out bench chair/table for your cooker. You can get something like this from any of the camping shops such as Aussies or Rays. They are cheap and have many users including a platform for your cooker when the table’s full, or a third seat if someone wants to join you for dinner.
o A bottle of metho/gas to fuel your cooker.
o Cooking essentials: a pot and pan, chopping board, cutlery and preferably a camping dish set with plastic mugs, cups, plates and bowls. Picnic sets are good for this too,
o One or two nice sized Tupperware containers. Because how happy will you be tomorrow when you find that left over pasta in the fridge!
o A bottle opener.
o Bedding.
o A board game or two.
If you have any other items to add to the list let us know!

Caravan Park Camping VS National Park/Free Camping

We love National Park camping, but that’s just us. We also have a lot of clients who will only stay in the comfort of Caravan Parks and I do have to admit, the lure of a hot shower and a camping kitchen close by to wash my dishes in is often very appealing. Here we detail the highs and lows of each option.

Caravan Parks

THE HIGHS…

  • The social aspect – you are more likely to meet people when you are camping close by and what better way to strike up a conversion then when washing dishes next to someone else in the camp kitchen!
  • The convenience – a hot shower whenever you want, an unlimited water supply and the ability to just carry all those dirty dishes over to the camp kitchen and wash them easily and quickly in hot water…priceless!

THE LOWS….

  • Lack of privacy – especially in busy parks and holiday periods. We hate being too close to comfort to that next group of campers.
  • Noise – backpackers and inconsiderate families blaring their music and drinking one too many beers in the wee hours of the morning. So annoying.

 National Parks

THE HIGHS…

  • Nature – nothing comes close to camping on the waters edge or on a cliff face with million dollar views. To top it off we love the up close and personal encounters with the wildlife; kangaroos, wallabies, possums, echidnas, birds. Just don’t feed them!
  • Privacy – call us crazy but when we go camping we want to get away…from everything! We want to be alone with no one else in sight so we can sing as loudly as we want and run around naked with nobody watching. It IS a holiday after all!

THE LOWS….

  • No dogs allowed.
  • Inconvenience – it can sometimes get a bit tiresome worrying about how you are going to store and then ferry all your rubbish out of a national park. Dito rationing out that fresh water from your tank if you plan on staying in the one spot for an extended amount of time.

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To pop top or not to pop top? That is the question…

So you’ve decided on a campervan conversion and now need to make the decision of whether you want the added pop top roof. The answer depends on many different factors, all important when you are considering whether to fork out $8000 for an extending roof…

Your camping style – Do you plan on travelling or spending any time staying in cooler weather? If you actively avoid the cold weather and have an aversion to cooking inside your van then you need to have a think about how much time you will spend standing up inside your campervan. If your cooker is portable and you can sit down to prepare/cook food inside the van or don’t plan on cooking or washing dishes inside the van then you may have no need for the additional height a pop top will give you.

Your age – Without being ageist, I am going to make the assumption that the older you are, the more issues you may have with your back and the more likely you are to require the ability to stand up completely straight while moving around inside your campervan. Similarly, someone young might not mind walking the few feet from the bed to the door with their stooped slightly.

Your health – As per the above, if you have issues with your back you will most likely need a pop top roof.

Your height – Although this doesn’t have to be a deciding factor, if you’re over 6 foot you might decide the additional height is a must.

Your budget/alternate options.- If the additional $8000 for a pop top roof is going to break the budget but you’d like a bit of additional height consider the alternatives.

Re-sale – How long are you planning on keeping your van? Vans without a pop top roof are harder to re-sell as the majority of people assume they require one (even though they may not!).

The VW Transporter is also available in a mid roof. Although you’ll need to check on the internal height of your garage if you plan on keeping it inside, this is often a good option if you don’t want to pay for a pop top. Keep in mind that you can’t stand up completely upright in one of these unless you are quite short. They will however, give you that extra bit of height which will make the van feel more roomy inside and also give you additional storage space inside the roof above the front seats.

VW mid roof and low roof

VW mid roof and low roof

VW Campervan with pop top roof.

VW Campervan with pop top roof.

A motorhome/larger size van such as a Mercedes Sprinter or Fiat Ducato (think ambulance sized!) are larger sized vans both in height, length and width. This means you can stand up inside and also have more room for campervan features. On the downside they may be that tiny bit too big for those living in cities and built up areas or who aren’t the best parallel parkers…