From a casual camper to life on the road: everything you will ever need to have with you
When you think of living out of a camper long term, the image of barefoot backpackers washing their clothes in the sink or cooking a tin of baked beans in a car park probably spring to mind.
Or, you might go the other way and think of a retired couple, searching for the local RSL and signing up to each small Aussie town’s rotary association.
But traveling around the country is for everyone, not just for backpackers and the Grey Nomads, and there are a ton of ways to make your experience feel like home.
From bedding and comfy chairs to top-notch cooking equipment and must-have accessories, we’ve put together a list of things you’ll need for your year-long trip, so you have more time for Koala hugging and wave catching.
Go wild- but do it in style!
Going bush doesn’t mean sleeping rough. And you can enjoy the wilderness without having to be completely barbaric. A big adventure in the outdoors does not necessarily mean spending an entire year tossing and turning on a blow-up bed. We’re professional travelers here, so we know a bad night’s sleep is all it takes to turn a beautiful hike into an unbearable slog.
Although it may be an obvious one, it’s so important to have the comfort of a bed that’s going to feel like heaven after a 20km trek through Kakadu (or a night at the local tavern).
It’s just as important that you have thick, warm and reliable bedding. Even the hottest of locations can get damn cold come night time and without having the central heating handy like you would back home, you’re going to need lots of thick doonas and warm blankets.
Whether you’re going off the grid or pulling up to your slice of concrete heaven every night to plug in, there’s not many better ways to watch the sun go down than by sipping on a cold one, sitting back and relaxing in your deluxe camping recliner or director’s chair.
There aren’t many worse things than sitting in something uncomfortable day in day out. You may not notice it after one or two uses, but it’s guaranteed to bug you over time if it’s just not good enough. Splashing out on some quality ‘campsite décor’ will not only ensure your comfort, but a quality chair most likely has some cool features and is likely to last longer.
Not only will you be relieved to take a load off after a huge day of exploring or traveling, they’re also a sure-fire way to gain some caravan park street cred.
You can thank us later!
Steering Clear of Culinary Chaos
Unless you have fancy pants with deep pockets or just seriously love Chicken Parma’s, it’s likely you’ll grow tired of eating out for every meal.
Besides, there’s not a lot of experiences akin to cooking regional delicacies with fresh local produce and local delicacies. And even the most reluctant cook is sure to realize cooking is no longer a chore when you’re whipping up meals by the beach or overlooking scenic mountain views.
For a longer trip, check out our camper trailers that feature a fully functioning swing out kitchen, however, there are some handy accessories that will make your life even easier and will make sure you’re eating gourmet.
Trust us on this one: your best friend when it comes to utilising space are utensils and cutlery that come with a folding function. They’re great for saving space, being easy to clean and they’re sturdy. Think pans with folding handles, rubber glasses that you can squish and collapsible bowls.
Another pro tip: anything made from aluminum, plastic or rubber are your best, best friends. Be careful with aluminum cups though, especially if they don’t have a handle! (We may have learned the hard way as hot tea is hard to handle in these bad boys!)
Unless you enjoy weekly trips to Target country to replace the billion wine glasses you’re bound to smash, stick to cooking equipment and utensils made from those materials, otherwise in most campers, you should have plenty of room to have standard cutlery and crockery if you prefer it.
Become a fan of heavy metal. No, not that kind!
It’s obvious that more remote campsites won’t have these sorts of kitchen tools available, well, beyond sticks for roasting marshmallows. However, what’s may or may not surprise you is that although premium caravan parks are appealing due to some fairly modern communal kitchens, the fact that they are communal means that a lot of these items are missing so it will always be worth having them yourself!
Another thing to keep in mind if you do decide to use the stoves at communal kitchens or are using any kind of induction cooktop is whether your kitchen equipment is ‘induction-friendly’. Once it’s night-fall and you’re getting dinner started after a long day of adventure and fun, it’s pretty tough to discover your hotdogs are never going to cook due to your pots being aluminium, glass or copper.
Don’t fret though if you do get caught out, it’s likely the caravan park will have a box of pots and utensils you can use, for a fee of course!
So, to avoid disappointment, make sure you invest in some decent cookware, whether it be collapsible cutlery or standard kitchen tools with pots and pans that are a magnetic-grade stainless steel or cast iron.
Get Your Storage Sorted!
Living from a small space can often mean your stuff ends up EVERYWHERE. However, we all know that a tidy home is a happy home, even if that home is on wheels! So here’s a few essentials to keep things in order on the road.
Broom and shovel. You may be rolling your eyes at this one screaming “Um, DUH” at the screen. But it can come in handy more than you might think.
A quick sweep of the entrance to your trailer at the end of each day can not only stop dirt, mud sand and any other element from trudging through your entire trailer. It can also stop mozzies, spiders and other unwelcome critters from making their way into your undies draw or last night’s spag bowl. Most of all though, it will stop any little rocks or debris going from your sock to your shoe, sounds benign right? Well, we can assure you that even a tiny piece of gravel will feel like a golf ball covered in needles 2 kilometres into your next walk!
Kettle. Perhaps another obvious one- but try and think of one thing in your journey that can’t be fixed using the trusty kettle. Making new friends on the site next door? Offer them a cuppa. Not sure about the water from that dodgy looking tap? Boil it. Had a rough night? Start the day with a strong coffee. Battling the winter elements? Hot chocolate it is.
Need we say more?
Functional Feng Shui
You’ve obviously got your torch and whatever lights are part of your set-up. But splash out and buy some portable solar powered lights. Take it from us, there’s nothing worse than trying to shuffle your way to the toilet in the middle of the night, half asleep without a portable torch at the ready. If you find yourself staying in remote locations, having solar charged lights are your alternative to sitting in darkness come night time. They also make your site seem homelier and you can customize your lights depending on your style and mood.
Storage Reels. We have no doubt that you’ll set off on your year long trip with enough extension leads and hoses to power a small village but storing them away when your all charged up can be another task in itself and improper storage can shorten their lifespan and lead to longer pack-up times at the campsite when you’re rearing to get going for the day.
One word: Tupperware. These will be your saving grace, especially when it comes to all your kitchen goodies. You may have downgraded in space for your trip, but your belly has no time for games and still wants three meals a day, so you’ll need your food and you’ll need to be organised about how you store it. Containers of all sizes, jars, zip-lock bags and of course your faithful roll of cling-wrap.
Labeling and sorting are important too, and if you don’t believe this to be true that’s fine, but don’t come complaining to us when your Milo ends up with the Mortein or you mistake your salt for sugar.
Pro tip: use a shoe organiser like a pantry, keeping all the things you use every day like salt, pepper, and sauce at the ready. As you adventure more often, you’ll learn from every mistake and get better and better at organising and develop your own pro tips for adventuring.
The Emergency Essentials
We’ve covered all the things to make your days (and nights) on the road smoother, but let’s get serious for a second. What happens when things get rough?
Travelling through remote areas and taking the road less travelled can often also mean running into some trouble, even if you’ve prepared the best you can. When the nearest town is 1500km away, you’ll need to be ready for flat batteries, flat tyres and the like.
Here are some basic items that will get you out of trouble, and back to the great open road in no time.
Jumper leads. It happens. Batteries go flat. We accidentally leave the headlights on or have a few drinks and get carried away playing music from the car all evening long (come on, we all love a sing along). Packing jumper leads mean anyone around can help you out and have your battery running as good as new.
Tyre chains. The land down under is hot to a diverse variety of terrain. Whether it be a white sandy beach, the red dirt of the outback or the windy roads of our alpine ranges you’re trekking through, your tires will need a bit of a hand from time to time. Remember, you’re pulling your full-to-the-brim camper trailer along with you. Enter: Tyre chains.
While we’re on the topic, don’t leave home without packing a spare tyre. Although your camper tyres are tough cookies, accidents do happen, and you don’t want to be left on the side of the road or stranded. A bottle of tyre sealant or puncture spray could be something to consider, if things go pear-shaped far from civilization, at least the spray should help you get to the nearest mechanic or repair centre, so you can sort it properly.
The Absolute Necessities
Yeah, yeah, spare tires and food storage are important, but what you really need are the following necessities are non-negotiable if you want to make sure your year on the road goes off without a hitch.
A fantastic name for your camper trailer. This is your home now, your domain, your kingdom. What kind of home would it be without a great name that sets the theme for your year on the road? Get creative and be the talk of the caravan park.
A sticker from every location you visit. Leave no space on your bumper untouched and make sure anyone who ever travels behind you known what a journey you’ve been on. You’ve traveled all those kilometers, so you’ve earned your bragging rights. Extra points if you sing “I’ve been everywhere, man” as you set up your spot for the night. It’s daggy, but what’s the point of all this adventure if you can’t have bragging rights?
Extra food. As much as possible! Not just for your stash or the hungry tummies of your family but try to make sure you have a few extra snacks to share around the campsites you visit.
One of the best icebreakers around the world is simply to use the commonality of all humans- the need to feed. Sharing food with others is an easy way to socialise or at least enjoy a moment shared with another person, no matter any differences in culture, language or customs.
Another way to look at it is that using a beer as a bribe is as Aussie as vegemite and kangaroos! Whether a beverage or a bite to eat, it’s the best and easiest way to say “G’day” to your neighbour for the night or thanks to the couple who towed you out of being bogged.
Before you can head off though, there’s only one essential you need
You’ve read about the essentials you’ll need to bring, but until you’ve chosen your camper you really can’t be sure of everything you need to bring. At Mars Campers, we work hard to develop the best camper trailers that are affordable, good quality and help you get outdoors and make new memories through the adventure.
What are your pro tips for organized travel? Share this blog post with your friends. You might be surprised with what you discover and what tips they have for your bag of tricks!