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WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T TAKE THESE THINGS CAMPING WITH YOU: 

These items are often packed and seldom used, so save yourself the regret and storage space for more important bits and pieces by NOT taking the following items on your next camping trip: 

  • That book you bought and never read but think you’ll read it if it sits in your campervan.  Take it to the opp shop instead! 
  • Hair styling appliances.  You can’t use them unless you are plugged into 240 volt power and even if you were, you are camping – who cares how your hair looks! 
  • Too much makeup, too many moisturisers, too many cosmetic products – the less the better, just take the absolute necessities.  No you will NOT need 1 let alone two different lipstick colours or eyeliners!    
  • Too many items of clothing.  As per previous blogs, the beauty of campervan travel is to learn to live with LESS.  Simplicity means less choices in the morning.  If you only have two Tshirts to choose from you can focus on other things. 
  • Accessories for every single hobby you use to define yourself but never have time to partake in.  Will you really have time to go surfing, mountain bike riding, kitesurfing and guitar playing in the two weeks you are on the road?  Choose one or two and save yourself the disappointment that comes with seeing the un-used items in front of you taking up space.  Because there are only a certain amount of hours in every day, and when you are camping some should be reserved for doing absolutely nothing. 

Remember when packing: one of the beauties of campervanning life, the freedom of living simply. 

Why I always hate the first week of camping 

My non-camping friends when I tell them we’re going away with our campervan and toddler: 

“Oh how relaxing, have a lovely holiday!” 

 Is it relaxing?  Some of the time. 

Is it a holiday?  About as much as backpacking is a holiday.  Or a stopover in a random city.  It can be the time of your life.  It’s an experience.  It’s the essence of travel.  But relaxing?  Mmmm not all the time. 

 I just don’t think these people who truly believe you are away having a relaxing holiday have any idea of what you are doing in that van most of the time. 

The amount of times I’ve been on the road and have had the thought pop into my head, if today was a normal day at work I’d be having a better day.  Why?  Because sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it would have been much easier to just stay home. 

But it’s not bad, it’s just different. 

And I always need a week to get into the new schedule of campervan travel.  My mind needs a week to move down a gear from normal everyday 15-minute-timeslots to get-shit-done to ‘this task is going to take a lot longer than it should but that’s ok because you don’t have much else to do anyway’.  And eventually I’ll get to that place where I start walking slower, stop wearing shoes and read whatever crap I can find just for something to do. 

Sure you have more time, more time to sit on the beach, more time to read a book or just talk (the beauty of not having a TV) more time to spend with your loved ones.  And let’s be honest, these are the photos we’re putting up on Facebook.  But it’s hard in the beginning because everything takes longer in a campervan.   

Need to wash your dishes?  If you’re staying at a campground you’ll have to work out how to get your dishes to the camp kitchen, then wash them oh so slowly (all the while thinking about how much you love your dishwasher at home) then dry them, then get them back to the van, hopefully without dropping a knife on your foot.  Or a clean dish in the dirt.  But let’s be honest, doing dishes in a camp kitchen is a camping luxury.  Try doing day old dishes in 40 degree heat in a tiny sink with only cold water.  Oh and the water tank is kinda low so you need to RATION that stuff, do NOT waste it on rinsing dishes!   

Have a baby, or toddler, or child under a certain age who might sometimes have a tiny accident in bed or in their pants or in their clothes or on their favourite beloved blankey that then urgently needs to be washed?  This presents another issue while camping.  Doing the washing.   

Been to Europe?  You’ll find yourself walking a kilometre to reception to pay for a token to take to the laundry room (that you need a key for, also from reception) that houses the washing machine, instructions definitely not in English.  It’s probably going to rain just as you’ve finished hanging the last towel on a spare tree branch nearby.  Ah, the luxuries of home that we take for granted. 

And I haven’t even started on the real issues.  The two weeks of uncharacteristically bad weather, cold weather, rain that doesn’t stop, no phone reception to find your camping spot, no map (Melways are SO 90’s!), nowhere to fill up clean drinking water (thanks Kangaroo Island), sick husband or cranky toddler (cranky husband and sick toddler are another good combination).   

Crescents Head campground in campervan

Oh and we can’t forget my primary camping hate – noisy camping neighbours.  So paranoid am I, I won’t camp within 100 metres of another person – OK slight exaggeration but I do search for surrounding P plate cars and then leave the vicinity if there are any, even if we’ve just taken 30 minutes to check in and set up. 

So why do I do it?  Why do I love it so much?  Why do I spend my working days selling and building campervans, my holidays and weekends living in campervans and my nights watching movies about people in campervans?  I’ll tell you why.   

Because those people who have no idea what we DO in a campervan really have no idea. 

They’ve never had that feeling of elation when you roll up at an isolated, pristine and completely empty beach on a perfect summer’s day. 

They’ve never opened their eyes in the morning, opened the curtain and had the feeling of gratitude that you’ve slept IN a beautiful rainforest, on a breathtaking clifftop, the list goes on. 

They’ve never tasted tea or boiled eggs eaten on camping chairs looking over the clifftop, into the forest, watching the sunrise, with the wonderful feeling that there are no other human beings on earth but you.  When the most beautiful places in the world are your doorstop it doesn’t even matter if you forget the sugar for your tea or salt for your eggs. 

They’ve never felt the lightness that comes with only having 2 Tshirts to choose from, no reason to look in the mirror or comb your hair, no housework to do but sit outside. 

They’ve never had the feeling of freedom that you get when you’ve got your van packed and you set off down the road to check out the next beach/town/it doesn’t really matter because you don’t need to book accommodation because you’re like a tortoise or a snail or a gypsy and you are truly free because your home travels with you.  

What can you tell someone whose about to buy their first campervan?  Well it’s the same as having a child really.   

It’ll be hard at times, but it’ll be worth it.  It’s a different way of living, but once you’ve done it you would never go back to the old way.  And although sometimes you’ll be angry and frustrated (at the teenagers with loud music at 4am) the other times it’ll be so great you’ll never want your journey to end.  

Crescents Head campground in campervan

CAMPERVAN SOLAR – WHEN DO YOU NEED IT AND HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Firstly, if you are only planning on camping in caravan parks and paying for a powered site you will not need solar power for your trip.  (if you have access to 240 volt to plug into you do not need solar power).

Without access to 240 volt power to plug into, so if you love National Park and free camping (like us) you can stand with your van parked for between 1 and 3 days without using solar power or starting your van.  The factors that will decide how long you can stand are as follows:

  • The outside temperature: the hotter it is, the harder the fridge has to work and the shorter the time frame you will be able to run your fridge and lights without a connection to power or solar.
  • How full your fridge is, how it is stacked and how often you open it: if your fridge is full it will stay cooler longer.
  • How often you charge your appliances ie laptop and phone: charging these items sucks a lot of juice and will quickly run down your leisure battery.
  • Utilising the lights in the van will not affect the leisure battery life as they are all LED and very energy efficient.

When using solar it must obviously be placed in the sun.  How quickly it will recharge your leisure battery will depend on the weather (how sunny it is) and how flat your battery is.  If you wake up in the morning and your leisure battery is completely flat we’d recommend idling your van for 20-30 minutes to get the battery up to a good charge.  You can then plug in your solar and let it do the rest.

And what do we do?  As we love National Park camping we do like to take solar with us however I would like to point out that we have travelled for years in campervans without solar or 240 volt power and never had a problem as even if we were camping in the same spot for weeks on end we were always happy to go for a little drive every couple of days to recharge the leisure battery and at the same time buy the paper, some bread, ice creams etc etc.

Keep in mind that if your leisure battery is very flat you will need to go for a drive for 3-5 hours to fully recharge it.

For more information on the leisure battery and 240 volt in your van see the following blog:

http://achtungcamper.com.au/blog/leisure-battery-campervan-electrics/

 

 

 

 

 

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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Campervan or Caravan? Take our quiz to help you decide.

Find out if a campervan or caravan is the right vehicle for your travelling style by taking our multiple choice quiz.

1. Circle one answer per question.

2. Mostly A’s mean you are best suited to Caravan Travel, more B’s = Campervan Travel. 

 

Will you be going on a trip for an extended period of time ie 6 months or more?

A. Yes

B. No

How much time do you plan on spending inside your caravan or campervan?

A. A lot, I would rather be inside at night watching TV etc than outside.

B. Not much, I prefer to spend as much time outside as possible.

Do you plan on staying for extended periods of time in colder weather?

A. Yes

B. No

Do you plan on doing a lot of cooking inside you van or do you prefer to cook outside?

A. Prefer to cook inside.

B. Love cooking outside.

Do you have the storage space at home for a caravan?

A. Yes

B. No

Do you have or can you afford to buy the correct vehicle with tow bar to tow a caravan?

A. Yes

B. No

Are you a confident and skilled driver that will easily tow a large trailer while driving to places you’ve never been before?

A. Yes

B. No

Do you plan on visiting/spending time in cities or bypassing them?

A. Hate cities.

B. Love visiting cities.

Do you plan on spending more time in national parks/off the beaten track or in paid caravan parks?

A. Paid caravan parks on popular routes.

B. Want to travel off the beaten track/stay in national parks. 

Have you checked the difference in cost to stay in a caravan park with a caravan as opposed to a campervan and calculated this cost for the duration of your trip?

A. Yes and I can afford the additional overnight fees.

B. Yes and I want to save $ by paying less to sleep in caravan parks and national parks or nothing by free camping.

Have you calculated the fuel cost of taking a caravan as opposed to a campervan on your trip?

A. Yes and it doesn’t bother me.

B. Yes and it works out too expensive for us with a caravan.

Why would I buy a caravan?

Campervans have ample storage space if you are 2 people and planning on travelling for up to a couple of months or even longer if you are only going to be staying where it’s warm or are a minimalist at heart! If you are taking 6 months off or longer and will be living in your van in different climates then you may decide you’d like more storage space and comfort plus the ability to do more complex cooking in your ‘kitchen’. In this case you may decide a caravan will better suit your needs.

Why would I buy a campervan?

You can sell your everyday car and replace it with a campervan, meaning a minimal expense initially. It is extremely economical to travel in, if you have a diesel campervan petrol costs are kept to a minimum and you are able to stay in free camping spots and National Parks so can keep accommodation costs down too. You may struggle towing a caravan and don’t want to be restricted to missing interesting travel spots and cities by the size of your trailer.

SUMMARY

  • A campervan is by far the more economical option, initially and ongoing.
  • A caravan might be a better option if you are a family or two people who plan on ‘living’ in your van for an extended amount of time (grey nomads we’re talking to you!)
  • Consider your skill and confidence level when driving before you purchase a caravan and whether you want to travel ‘off the beaten track’ or stay in National Parks as this will be more difficult with a large trailer.

And as a last thought…

Caravan quiz