A man in the bush needs his equipment – and with no further introduction we present to you Ronny’s camping essentials!
One good quality, sharp large knife can be used in a multitude of ways: chopping vegies, cutting bread, making kindling, making a spear to go hunting…the possibilities are endless J
Reusable stainless steel double layered water bottle
For the cup of tea on long road trips the doesn’t get cold, and so you can have a drink of water anywhere, anytime.
Over sized (large and heavy) Maglite style torch
Yes we know, big and heavy is not really campervan friendly BUT we feel secure when we need to go outside in the middle of the night to use the toilet when we have this 2kg aluminium ‘weapon’ with us. Plus it’s lovely to have a powerful torch when you want to gush over/blind cheeky possums surrounding your van in the dark.
Because we love hiking, love camping in summer and love camping in the bush!
My number one (any type of) travel essential, especially with baby/child in toe.
Because sometimes you are too tired/drunk/short on water/don’t want to make a mess in the kitchen sink to clean your face at the end of the day to wash your face properly.
Tinted (minimum) SPF 30+ face moisturiser
So quick and easy to apply first thing in the morning and I don’t have to worry about remembering to apply sunscreen again until lunchtime. WIN!
Happy Ears earplugs
Ideally you don’t want to have to use these on a trip but they are more of a security measure and mean you can be a lot less picky when choosing a spot to camp for the night. They are outrageously priced and can only be ordered online but in my extensive ear plug testing experience (I really have tried them all) these have come out as the clear winner.
Long sleeved thin button up style shirt
Who wants to get sunburned? I don’t even wear Tshirts in the sun anymore. A cheap thin button up shirt from Cotton On is my Go–To camping top. Doesn’t look too bad with jeans when you have to re-join civilization to re-stock on essentials either.
Hot water, what a luxury…do you need this in your campervan? Absolutely not!
Why would you want it?
- Because if you have to wash dishes in your van it’s much easier to do with hot water.
- Because if you want to shower comfortably in your van and not just when the weather’s hot outside, you’d want a hot shower!
How does it work and how much power does it use?
- The hot water boiler holds 6 litres of water at 90 degrees.
- We had 3 hot showers, one after the other, no problem. This took 10% of the water tank’s water supply (when full). It then took 40 minutes for the water to re-heat and this used 7% of the leisure battery (as it automatically re-fills and re-heats as it empties).
- When washing and rinsing dinner dishes for 3 people we used 15% of the water tank’s capacity when full) and this used 10% of the leisure battery. (Also note I love rinsing dishes BEFORE AND AFTER washing them, not the best habit for camping but old habits die hard).
- When refilling your van completely with cold water and wanting to heat the water from scratch it takes about 22 minutes when plugged into 240 volt power, or about 2 hours if it’s heats from your leisure battery. The water stays hot in the tank for at least a day so the best thing to do is heat it up while driving then leave it on.
How much does it cost?
If you are only planning on staying in Caravan Parks then you definitely do not need this as you would use the park’s facilities to shower and wash your dishes.
What’s the first thing you should do when you park your van for the night in your new camping location?
Open your pop top roof.
Check out your surroundings.
Crack open a beer.
The correct answer is…go over and introduce yourself to your closest camping neighbours, here’s why:
Check wiki camp for up to date comments? Read guidebooks? Look up camping blogs? You can’t get a more ‘real time’ review on your just-about-to-be camping spot than asking those who’ve been there the night before. Introduce yourself, ask them if they had a quiet night’s sleep, how the spot is…people love to talk (ok maybe it’s just me!) and if there are any noise or security issues you’ll know about them pretty quickly. Even better they’ll likely tell you of any great beaches/walking tracks/short cuts into town that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Worst case scenario you find out the 18 year old’s nearby start a party every night that goes until dawn. Better to know now than at 1am!
Google campervan security or safety and you’ll read one thing over and over again. Make friends with your neighbours. They’ll look out for your van when you are swimming down the beach, drinking wine on the cliff at sunset, doing that 6 hour hike (oh yes you will!). You’ll also feel a whole lot safer at night knowing who your neighbours are and that you can approach them if the need arises.
Although this point doesn’t apply to Achtung Camper owners as they are of course all super organised and have read every single one of our other blogs on what to pack and what not to forget BUT for everyone else out there…when it starts getting cold and you’ve forgotten the fire lighters, when it’s wine o’clock and you don’t have a bottle opener (aren’t they all twist top now anyway?!) you’ll be thankful later if you are already on friendly terms with the campers next door.
And as always, we leave the best to last. Yes travelling is about the journey and about the destination. It’s about freedom and nature. But it’s just as importantly about the people you meet along the way. Lifelong friends were made in front of campfires and hey, you already know you have the most important values and interests in common (you’re both here aren’t you!). After all, a bottle of wine shared is much better than a bottle of wine drunk alone (especially for you the next morning!)
We’ve now spent a total of 12 months (on and off or we wouldn’t have a job!) with our toddler in our campervan. Some of the time I wished we’d stayed home. Some of the time I had to admit the way we travelled ‘before’ had to change. It was tough but when we made a few changes to our camping itinerary and travelling style everyone was happier and we had a much more relaxed time, by the end we’d created a way of living that was sustainable long term (if only we were so lucky!) Here are a few things we learnt:
The easy bits…
- Always have a pack of baby wipes in the van, even if your toddler is toilet trained. There will always be accidents, better to be prepared!
- As per the above, always keep a spare set of bed sheets in your van with you.
- This next camping hack is completely wasteful and goes against everything I believe in, but you only need to utilise it for the shortest time until the ‘learning and accidents’ stage has passed, and it has saved me A LOT of stress when on the road. Before you leave on your trip, make a visit to the cheapest shop you can think of that sells kids clothes (it was Kmart for me) and purchase the cheapest bulk pack of undies. I got them for 70cents a pair. At that price a ‘big’ accident meant the undies went straight in the bin and I saved myself some messy washing.
- Have a stash of healthy ‘ready’ foods on hand for when you won’t be able to make dinner by ‘dinner time’ or will be going to a pub or restaurant and don’t know if they’ll offer anything for your little one. As an example, we always have at least a couple of tins of baked beans, tuna, an avocado, wholegrain crackers and peanut butter on hand.
- If you are as unlucky as us and have a toddler who hates car travel, you’ll find road tripping distances in Australia a nightmare too. I’ve also got a slight problem with utilising our ipad as babysitter so had to come up with another idea – music. If we played ‘her’ music, she was much more likely to sit there happily for an hour than if we played ‘our music’. How lovely, a road trip listing to the Hokey Pokey on repeat for an hour. Enter the best purchase we’ve made in a long time: A pair of children’s Bluetooth JBL headphones. These are so wonderful I could write a blog on the headphones alone. No cord, safety volume feature, comfy, great sound, LONG life (I rarely charge them) not that expensive ($50). You can play your child’s music on your phone and YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIST TO IT. Bonus: try calling grandparents and friends and letting your little one have a ‘private’ chat = another hour gone.
The bits that you might not want to do but make life easier for everyone if you do…
- This one’s pretty obvious but you may be tempted to push it, don’t bother. Travel short distances at a time (1.5 hours?) punctuated by 30 minute playground breaks.
- Google maps is great. You can open your map, show your location and then just type in ‘playground’ and they will show up on the map. You can even see ‘ratings’ and photos if there are any, plus walking or driving directions.
- As we all know, toddlers are creatures of routine and familiarity and these things make them feel happy and comfortable. Sesame Street didn’t play the same episode at the same time for one week as it’s primary marketing activity for no reason at all. Sleep in a different location every night and your toddler’s likely to feel (and act) a little unsettled. For this reason, we’d suggest planning to stay longer in each place than you usually would, and try to avoid staying anywhere for just one night.
- This one was discovered in Europe where there are more attractive ‘big cities’ that I’d traditionally loved to have visited, but it’s similarly true in Australia (1 night in Newcastle was stressful and disappointing after a few blissful weeks in tiny coastal towns). With a toddler (and I say this with gritted teeth) sometimes it’s better to avoid cities altogether. Cities mean it’s harder to get a carpark, there’s sometimes traffic, the campground might be out of the city meaning you have to work out ways with public transport or walking to get into the actual city centre. At the end of the day, what do WE want to do in a city anyway? I’ll tell you what. We want to go shopping (or at least window shopping!), see the sights and go out for coffee, dinner, drinks. Let’s be honest – none of these things are particularly toddler friendly. Better to save that Sydney stopover to a weekend away WITHOUT the kids.
Thinking of campervanning with a newborn, baby or toddler? Below we detail the main things to keep in mind before you set off!
Sure, we went camping in winter BEFORE but NOW? If it’s cold once the sun goes down we can’t just escape into the van to continue on the party/board game playing/reading/watch a movie. Such a small space means lights inside must be kept off once babies asleep (7pm!) This means cold weather camping nights are solely to be enjoyed by the fire. Still enjoyable but don’t forget to bring the firewood or you’ll be up for a very early night indeed!
240 volt power
We would never have been caught dead in a caravan park, and paying for power?! HA! WHAT FOR?! I’ll tell you what for:
Being able to heat up milk or snacks easily using the microwave in our van as opposed to getting out the cooker/pot/cooking utensils to heat up half a cupful of food that will most likely not get eaten anyway…
Not much has changed here, I am well knows to be VERY paranoid about where we park and who our neighbours are. I know nothing can ruin an evening more than loud/drunk/late parrying within earshot. So what’s changed, I am even MORE paranoid about who we park next to as I know it’s not just MY sleep that will be effected when we woken up at 1am by drunk teenagers.
LWB vs SWB
OK we couldn’t afford a LWB, but MAN how that 30cm would have changed our life in that first year. 30cm?! That’s right, the difference between a LWB and SWB – the difference between being able to fit a porta cot in your van and not being able to. Sure we made do by creating a safe sleeping space for baby in the pop top roof bed but (see point above) how we miss the possibility of being able to pull down the roof of a nighttime to avoid outside noise and make the most of Ronny’s wonderful insulation job…
A bottle off wine
To celebrate what a great job you’ve done when said baby/toddler is finally asleep!
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…
If you have any tips on camping in bad weather please comment below!
For more camping related blogs visit http://achtungcamper.com.au/blog/