Realities of Long Term Camping

Things that you will learn to live with if you are on the road for extended periods

Realities of Long Term Camping

by | May 21, 2017 | 17 comments

If you are like us and have been on the road for an extended period of time, or are planning to be on the road for longer than the weekend or a few weeks, there are a number of things that you will have to accept in your day to day camping life. We put this post together as a bit of a laugh and to show you some of the things we have had to ‘become one with’ on our 12 month trip around Australia.


Our free campsite on the Snowy River, Willis Campground VIC


First things first, here is a photo of our typical set up. We have a Landcruiser Troopy (his name is Trev) high top camper and a tent which we set up most the time because there is more space and it is more comfortable than sleeping in the car. We put all the mattresses together to make one big king size bed. It is great (most the time anyway, it is not so great in high winds or torrential rain!).


Our typical camping set up, Barn Hill Station, WA


REALITY #1 : It is not always going to be sunshine and clear skies! 

When the weather turns ugly and you are living in a car or a tent it is not fun!!! You are basically confined to a very small space praying your tent doesn’t flood. This photo was taken at 530 am one morning when we had 120 mm of rain in 1 night, everything in the tent got wet and my thongs even started floating away. There have also been times when it has been so windy that the tent is on that much of an angle it has literally touched our faces. You just have to laugh in these situations, it’s all part of the adventure and good stories to tell later in life.


My thongs even started floating away!! At a farm stay near Bowen when we got 120 mm of rain in one night


REALITY #2 : Unless you are lucky enough to have a brand new car.. Things will go wrong!! 

If you are anything like us, there is a constant list of things that need to be fixed and things that go wrong, they could be as simple as a chip on the windscreen to full blown mechanical problems (like being stuck in low range 4WD and having to be towed 400 km back to the nearest mechanic that can fix it!). We started with an emergency account of $2000 for situations like this and this has not been enough for us. Make sure you expect things to go wrong along the way and have a plan. It is really important that you have insurance, roadside assistance and a few emergency parts with you; we carried spare oil, coolant, hoses, an extra belt and of course a spare tyre (ask your mechanic, they will recommend specific things for your vehicle).


We only properly broke down once on our 12 month trip around Australia but there was always something to fix!


REALITY #3 : You will not be completely naked in a shower for months!

It is just not the same when you wear thongs in the shower! If you are like us and don’t have your own shower (actually that is a lie we have a 20 L solar shower bag) you should always wear thongs, you never know who has been in there before you. Even with a solar shower unless we are completely alone at a camp spot you will be wearing your bathers. If you are lucky enough to book a hotel along the way for a little break from camping one of the BEST things ever is being completely naked in that shower!! No bathers, no thongs, just you.


Wearing thongs in the shower is something you will need to get used to!


REALITY # 4 : Be prepared to bath anyway possible, hygiene is important! 

Lots of campsites, especially bush camping and lots of national parks, don’t have showers. We have ‘showered’ using water bottles and taps so many times I can’t count. It is a bonus if you even have a tap! If there is one grab your soap and use it. For me, the difference between short term and long term camping is that when I am short term camping I am happy to go days without a proper shower, when I am long term camping I really like to stay relatively clean, especially my feet before jumping into bed.


Having a ‘shower’ at our Bungle Bungles camp, WA


REALITY # 5: Get used to hand washing everything

If you are like me and like things to be clean you will need to master the art of hand washing. There are lots of places to use washing machines along the way but these always cost $3 to $4 a load and it all adds up. Also, there are so many places where there is no washing machine so hand washing is the only option. You may be one of those people who have their own little washing machine, if you can fit it I think it is a great investment, especially if you have kids.


Not everywhere you go will have a laundry


REALITY # 6 : Get used to Cruskits and Tuna if you want to save $$

When we are on the road one of the easiest and cheapest lunches is tuna on Cruskits or Corn Things. It is so cheap a and easy and can be very tasty if you mix up the flavour. We also make sure we always have a good relish in the fridge to add flavour to most meals.


You can make a great meal out of simple ingredients, just make sure you mix it up! There is only so much tuna you can eat in a lifetime!


REALITY # 7: The sun will wake you up at the crack of dawn every day

This photo was taken at 615 am. If you are in a tent the sun will wake you up, sleep ins are almost impossible. It will either be the light that wakes you up or the heat when your tent turns into a mini oven. If you plan on a trip like ours and will be mainly sleeping in a tent hope that you are a morning person like me! I did actually buy an eye mask which is pretty good but hard to get used to, and why sleep through the best part of the day.


This photo was taken at the Lake Argyle Caravan Park, if the sun doesn’t wake you up the heat will!


REALITY # 8 : As dorky as they are your head torch will be your best friend

I never thought I would be sporting this fashionable head piece every night (we have lots of other little lights and even a LED strip light) but the reality is these things are an absolute must when camping out bush. You have both hands free to find things, cook and avoid creepy crawlies if you need to venture past your camp at night. We have met other long term campers that don’t even own headlights and we don’t know how they get through the night! Also, make sure you buy a good quality one it makes a massive difference.


How cool do we look!!!?!


REALITY # 9 : Gaffer tape is an essential item

Following on from reality #2 that things WILL go wrong, you need to use whatever you can to fix things. We have gone through multiple rolls of gaffer tape to fix things on our car, tent and even bush first aid! It is really important that you take a little tool kit with things like gaffer tape, cable ties and standard tools. Make sure you have a GOOD first aid kit too (with snake bandages).


We went through at least 4 rolls of Gaffer tape on our 12 month trip around Australia



Although there are always challenges and you will miss the comforts of home, taking the plunge to travel in this way for long periods is absolutely amazing and definitely the best thing I have done in my life so far (I am 31 and Hutchy is 32). The places you see and people you meet are priceless and your biggest worry will be if you can find wood for the fire, if you have enough cold beers or what you are going to cook for dinner. It was a big and pretty scary step to quit our good jobs to do this trip but we don’t have one single regret.


King Edward River camp, off the Gibb River Road


Lauren & Hutchy


  1. Louise

    Seriously stupid to harbour regrets about anything, as there is nothing you can do to change things.
    My sister-in-law and her husband have been doing this for seven years now. They started with a camper on the back of a Navara king cab ute, moved the camper to a trailer, then moved to a caravan, and have now upgraded that. They would add learning to eat a two litre tub of ice-cream in one sitting. A/ because they’re the cheapest B/ no space to keep it.

    • Lauren Wallman

      Haha! That is so true about ice cream!! We definitely wouldn’t be able to fit a tub in our mini freezer, so may aswell eat the whole thing! 🙂

  2. Robert Allen

    Cairns 1975 ellis beach camped for months great spot. Basic but adequate highlight trips to green island stacks of times & weekly trip into Cairns pop.25,000 for all you can eat $2.50 luncheon.

    • Lauren Wallman

      We didn’t make it to Green Island, but we did spend a day on Fitzroy Island which was beautiful. All you can eat $2.50!!!! Wow awesome

  3. Trish

    Hi guys, just curious why you didn’t take one of those pop up shower tent for showers? Then you could strip off! Great insights!

    • Lauren Wallman

      We should get one for next time, we had such a simple set up and I don’t think we even thought of that! Haha. I’m adding it to the list 🙂

  4. Jane

    Love it. Can certainly relate to many of your points. Camping life, who’d ever swap the memories!

  5. Jo

    Thank you for this post. We are just venturing into the world of 4×4 and camping so any help is much appreciated. We’d love to ‘drop out’ for 6 months and travel.

    • Lauren Wallman

      No worries Jo 🙂

  6. Kerry Huntjens

    Hey Hutchy your Pa would have been very proud of you for fixing things with tape. John was an expert at taping things up. Nana and Pa Huntjens would have been very happy n proud to see u complete your journey. They were great tips u two for when Wally and I do our trip ahhhhh maybe not. Hutchy u r the only explorer in our family. Lol. So many people have told us how much they enjoyed your interview. Woohoo. Xox

  7. Chris Riley

    I know many people, now middle aged, who took a year or so off either before they had children, or when their children were young. They travelled Australia and still relate their stories decades afterwards as if it were yesterday declaring the time they had as the best times in their life.

    • Lauren Wallman

      Hi Chris, that is so awesome. I know the year we travelled Australia was the best year of my life so far, I don’t know how we can top it! Actually we will once we hit the road again and do another big lap 🙂

  8. Shiree

    Awesome tips thanks heaps. Im taking off around xmas time just me and my 4 yr gurl in a coaster bus. Looking for an amazing adventure. Im definately going to get me a sleep mask tho!

    • Lauren Wallman

      Hi Shiree, how exciting you and your daughter are taking off in a bus. Haha yes a sleeping mask is great to have! I use mine all the time in the summer months when it gets light around 5am!

  9. k mason

    Hi guys -great posts. sure to make camping easier for the newbies. I had to chuckle at your ‘water’ stories. my 70th today -perhaps you don’t have many older followers. oops I digress. growing up in the country we learnt many tricks for saving water that helped when later I camped with hubby & our kids: such as sponge baths and yes, a ‘washing machine’ in your vehicle: put a wee bit of soap powder into a bucket with a good sealing lid, throw in your clothes then cover with cold water -don’t fill the bucket. forget about it until at camp for the night and —wallah; you only need to rinse and hang out. you’ll learn to recognise what dirty spots first need a little spray with water & rub with a cake of soap (not liquid soap as you don’t want the effort of rinsing & rinsing & rinsing out lots of suds). sponge baths are so invigorating in the cool early morning air! forget the running water -hard to carry enough for a shower when you’re in the bush & rather luxurious. yes, I had to teach my townie hubby what a sponge bath and a camp washing machine were. there are now specifically designed washing on the move buckets avail. I suggest use an ord cheap bucket to test if that’s a method that would work for you -even a journey to and fro work or ….whatever will give you a feel for whether that’s for you or not. think v carefully as to a trailer or not -I know you understand less is better and freedom from towing, parking, storing could outweigh benefits of xtra space or ‘things’ er sorry stuff. 🙂


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