Ok so since article one, you have now aquired your new castle de wheels and your staring longely at an map of australia. The tow tug is serviced roadworthy and ready to go.
Its time to decide on what to pack and what to leave behind- an no your wife needs to go.
It can be very tempting to pack everything including the kitchen sink or the just in case I will need it and trust me I have been there and done that.
But it is very important to remember the amount of load that you are legally able to carry and or fit into your vehicle and caravan.That antique iron Fire Poker might make a good talking piece but will take up weight that could be better used elsewhere. If in doubt leave it out.
We found a very good trick when you first load up, go to office works and pick up a roll of little coloured sticker dots. Place one of these dots on every additional item that you believe you need when you pack.
When you use that item on your first trip remove that dot and so on until your trip is completed.
Once you return home check your items to see what still has a coloured dot on it.
If its still on remove that item from the van and no it doesn’t count if you accidently put one on your wifes back of her shirt.
Remember tools, spares and first aid is excluded from this exercise. They are items you probably wont use every trip but when you need them you are really going to need them.
Your roadside assist doesn’t really apply when you are out beyond the black stump and its 50 degrees with a cranky wife baking in the hot sun.
I recall an incident when we blew the intercooler hose our trusty tow rig off on a very hot boxing day about 20 klms from Hughenden. I checked my spares kit and found that I didn’t have a spare hose clamp that size so I rang the local RACQ and an automated voice informed me that they were no longer servicing that area at that time. Bugger!
After a few choice words and wondering what Skippy would do.
I managed to reattach the hose using a 250 kg tie down ratchet strap. While not ideal we managed to get into town where I was able to purchase spare parts and we were back on the road in no time.
So here are some suggestions to pack or a checklist that we use when we are about to travel.
Caravan Check list essentials
- Grey water hoses usually two with a joiner as you can struggle to get your drainage out far enough in some parks or free camps that don’t want you draining to close to water such as lakes and rivers.
- Rockin Roos Roo Paws Storm Awning Clips, for a very small price they will save your expensive awning! Check out on Rockinroos.com.au
- Water grade hoses: that’s usually the blue hoses do not use your domestic garden hoses unless you have a hankering for rubber flavoured water.
- Various tap & hose connections and thread tape.
- Levelling ramps and two-way spirit level
- Wheel chocks.
- Trailer lock or hitch lock (pack spares as these can walk)
- Awning Mat this can really assist to hold down grass, bindy’s, and sand
- 15-amp power cord.
- Extra safety Pins and D shackles for your van and truck, believe it or not these get misplaces and pinched.
- Porta Loo solution the ones with a measuring bowl on the side are great.
- Extension cord/s for car fridge & caravan on a powered site(15 amp of course but be prepared that a lot of sites only come with a 10 amp plugin so a 15 amp to 10 amp adapter is invaluable such as the
Tools and Maintenance.
This is an area which I probably tend to slightly overpack coming from a trade back ground so I have listed what I believe are the must haves whilst travelling.
If your goal is to remain close to built up highly populated areas and your not very handy with tools you could probably reduce this list to your requirements.
Note! A small tarp or rubber backed mat is very handy if you must get under the van or car and not coming out looking like the landscape or not freezing or burning your behind.
- Duct Tape so many trips are saved with duct tape and your sanity when you have exhausted other options..
- 100 hundred mile an hour tape for awning and panel repair
- Rag on a roll is great stuff it goes forever and is washable.
- Cordless drill good for general repair and screwing in ground pegs
- Drill bits
- Jumper leads
- Screwdrivers and multi connection driver kit for cordless
- Tape measure.
- Vice grips.
- Pliers, cutters & knives.
- Metal file; one flat one round
- Chisel one wood one cold chisel
- Hammer plus 4-pound hammer with a cut down handle.
- Rubber mallet
- Allen keys metric and imperial
- Socket sets I generally only use metric but those of you with an American truck had better take both.
- Ratchet spanners one open end and one end a ratchet
- Shifters three different sizes
- Wheel brace.
- Wheel bearing socket (if you’re going to change your own bearings);
- Wheel Bearings plus recommended grease. (if you are unsure on how to do this there are many youtube videos on this and once done you will wonder what all the fuss is about)
- Tapes (duct, thread, electrical); Wire brush.
- Extra Anderson plugs
- Tyre repair kit Note do not get the cheapest one, purchase one that has metal tools for long life.
- Multimeter and 12-volt test pencil you will find out just how invaluable these are.
- Gas solder gun and solder.
- Cable ties one heavy packet one light.
- Silicone, Araldite/super glue
- Ratchet straps see above story and great for securing your load.
- Collapsible camp shovel.
- Combination locks and chain (in case I lose the key) for securing fridges, bikes or solar panels.
Suggested Vehicle Setup
- Nudge Bar or Bull Bar with driving lights
- Tow bar;
- Brake controller;
- Spare tyre at least one
- Suspension upgrade? It will depend on how you find the vehicle for towing and safety
- Dual batteries; All ways great for running a extra camping fridge and ensuring you are not running down your starter battery
- Portable solar panel, I use a 160-watt minimum as I find it more than covers my power usage if I need to keep the batteries topped up while parked for a few days.
- Rear fridge/ freezer;
- Fridge slide if required, I personally don’t use a slide.
- Dirty gear bag;
- Recovery kit.
- I also have a generator for those days I need to do washing or we have no sun. Yamaha or Honda both have an excellent range of quite generators depending on use. I use a Yamaha 2.4 which runs everything in the van.
Caravan comfort essentials
- Number 1 on the list is your favourite pillow and bed cover. If you aren’t sleeping you wont be enjoying your trip. One thing the Rockin Roos crew did was to ensure we spent on a comfortable mattress and bed linen and it has paid us back in spades.
- Number 2 comfortable camping chairs the type you can fall asleep in. You will find that you will use these a lot and why not that’s what relaxing is all about.
- Camping chairs that are usually cheap reflect the price in lack of comfort.
- Number Three well for us anyway is our trusted webber Q this is what we use 95% of the time despite a full kitchen inside. We just love the little thing.
No its not an Arabian Princess!
- Fly nets if you have ever been to the outback you know what I am talking about.
- First Aid Kit for car and caravan
- Smoke alarm, replace the battery if needed
- Fire extinguisher/fire blanket
- Dishwashing detergent, plug, sponges, tea towels
- BBQ wipes
- Soap, wipes, hand sanitiser, hand towel, tissues
- Good Broom or brush/pan set
- Mats for inside and outside the caravan
- Container for holding shoes
- Small table if you like to prepare meals outside the van
- Small bin & bin liners
- Stemless wine glasses unless you have an endless supply of glassware.
- Bags for shopping & carrying clothes
- Large bag for dirty clothes, pegs and washing powder, clothesline
- Cards, board games, reading material, pens
- Umbrella, wet weather gear, sun protection, hats
- Chargers for any devices you take
- Torches, firelighters
- Toiletries & bath towels
- Extension cord/s for car fridge & caravan on a powered site I use a 10 meter Anderson extension lead for the fridge when free camping.
- Kitchen utensils including tongs, egg flip, potato peeler, chopping boards
- Enough Clothes for seven days.
As I said above though the choice is yours only you truly know what you need or want to take with you. Your needs will constantly change as you change, your journeys change.
Travel is nothing if not Dynamic.
My lists are a guide only that will hopefully assist you on your journey.
Talk to you again in Part Three of A Million ways to Not Die IN The WEST or anywhere else. Does My Caravan Look FAT