A Million Ways to not Die in the West or Anywhere else

Welcome

Hopefully none of you will ever find yourself in this situation above

Whether you are  about to be or are a long term traveller these series of articles are being written to help you along the way to safe happy reliable touring.

My Name is Peter Morris and with my partner Sam are both directors in Rockin Roos PTY LTD

Rockin Roos as a company, have been travelling to distant fairs and festivals for over half a decade and in one particular year managed to cover over 60000 klms.

My partner and I have been travelling throughout this country since the 1980s with everything from tents, camping trailers and a faithful old borrowed Millard who by today’s standards was quite rough and ready. Even though these days we travel with a much larger, more modern van the memories of the early years and learned mistakes we made along the way still carry with us today.

As we trade within the caravan RV industry many of our face to face conversations tend to wander into setups and vehicle choice.

We also get a number of questions from about to be, or first timers, on caravan safety and travelling to remote areas. So, Let’s get started.

The Dream

So, its that time, the open road beckons, freedom to go where you want to and relax- just live.

Relaxing nights around a campfire and a canvas of stars above.

With tomorrows promise of a new unexplored adventure.

Sounds great doesn’t it.

This is what draws so many of us to the road.

All you need is your dream setup.

But what do I need first to achieve this.

Where do I start?

With so many options on the market these days it can be difficult for someone with no experience to make that difficult choice on what to buy within your budget and comfort needs.

Any salesman will tell you that his weapon of choice is the best option for you to get that sale, but this is where even the most inexperienced travellers can hold the cards. Sit down and discuss with your partner or family what you want as a home away from home. In this we are all different. Not everyone wants to cross the Simpson or spend long periods away from home.

Think about

‘Where and how long do you intend to go – do you plan to mainly do highway travel or does the serenity of the outback and dirt roads call to you.

‘How we want to travel’ – free camping is a great way to save a buck but If you plan to spend all your time in a van park do you really need those extra solar panels, additional water tanks and batteries that add weight. If you plan to free camp a lot, then these are a necessary add on.

Start a preferred wish list of items you would like included in your standard of living:

What amenities do you really require? Do I need a full-size fridge or shower? Separate toilet? Independent suspension vs rocker roller springs. (We will cover suspension in future articles)

Will I require a full size stove and oven inside or do you plan to do most of your cooking as we do on a small Webber Q. I can honestly say our microwave is still wrapped in foam.

Air-conditioning (or not); Club, L-shaped lounge, dinette-style dining layout; under-bed storage or external storage; double or queen bed; twin versus single gas bottles; aluminium cladding versus composite / fibreglass; off-road hitch versus ball hitch,

I also advise to go to camping/caravan shows but don’t get caught in the moment as this is easy to do. Even if you are chasing a second-hand van the various layout options and fixtures will better clarify in your head whether this layout is wrong or right for your needs. Plus, never get to engaged with a salesman and never commit to buy at your first show. This is your fact-finding time only see what’s on the market and will it suit your needs.

Always go away and think about what you saw discuss what you liked and disliked. I once saw a van I fell in love with at first sight with a myriad of latest innovations and was tempted to buy it on the spot. But after leaving and  researching more, thoroughly examining the layout of the van, we discovered the van would have been completely wrong for us. When Rockin Roos upgraded to our latest van we spent close to two years looking at what was on the market. We were determined to stick to our lists of must haves which made the process of elimination much easier as we were presented with so many options. Eventually we had it custom made to our requirements and it saved us money.

The stress of making the wrong decision on such a big investment will always cause some sleepless nights.

When you get closer to making a choice on a caravan or camper. Speak with experienced caravan owners that have travelled the same way as you believe you will. Discuss what they would do different, what mistakes they have made, their experience is invaluable.

Discuss their preferences but always remember they are always their preferences. I engage on a number of online forums and one thing I have always found is that individuals take a lot of pride in their rigs so often the discussions can turn into a chest beating affair.

Once you have armed yourself with this information — then you should have a fair idea on what to get. Look at your budget as you can still achieve a lot of comfort and functionality from a camping trailer compared to an apartment on wheels.

Weight means fuel so examine different weight and load ratings. It also pushes into the highly talked about but rarely understood load ratings. Also speaking of weight look at old faithful your tow tug. Look at its ability to a move the load safely and legally.  Its economy and breaking capacity to tow your new home. Whether it is rated to tow you rig is very important. If it doesn’t have the power to pull the sheets off your bed, then that will have to factor into your equation. The cost of a replacement vehicle. But we will talk about this in part Two.

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