Realities of Long Term CampingThings that you will learn to live with if you are on the road for extended periods
Realities of Long Term Camping
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.
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!).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
REALITY # 10 : TRAVELLING & LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE WILL BE ONE OF THE BEST THINGS YOU HAVE EVER DONE
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.
Lauren & Hutchy