If you are new to caravan and camping or even an old pro, it’s always exciting to hear hints and tips that may help you on your travels.
We have been living in our caravan and travelling full time for over 10 months now and have figured out the ins and outs of vanlife and what makes life easier for us. We thought we’d share a brain dump of caravan travel bits’n’bobs that may be helpful to others.
If you have something to add, please take a minute to pop it in the comments section below this blog post so others (including us), can gain from your experience too.
Water Health: As you travel you will come across loads of different types of water in terms of quality and taste. Before we put any water in our caravan we run it through a B.E.S.T. water filter. We also have a water filter inside the van at the kitchen sink that we drink from (we had this installed when our caravan was built).
Bunk beds: When we first started our travels Ziggy had just turned 2 and he fell out of the lower bunk a few times. So we installed a small piece of plywood to help keep him in as well as a safety net. We purchased this net from Jayco as a ‘spare part’. It is usually used in the Eagle pop tops and cost us about $70.00.
Bunk Sheets: We don’t have fancy sheets, we simply just tuck in a single sheet and the kids use their sleeping bags on top of them (as we use our Oztent in our travels too this saves us doubling up on bedding for the kids). We started our travels with a top and bottom sheet with the sleeping bags open on top but soon simplified this by zipping up the sleeping bags (and ditching the top sheet). This set up is pretty good for keeping clean too as I use a dustpan and brush to clear out sand on the fitted sheet and simply wash the sleeping bags and base sheet when needed.
Bed Throw/Protector: Our bed doubles as a couch, play area and major living space for us all so we have a simple queen sized throw that we keep on top of the bed that we can quickly take outside and shake off, or wash easily when needed. It can also be used as a picnic rug or hang it up for some extra shade if needed when camping so it’s very handy.
Stone stomper: When we tow the caravan we protect the front of the van by using a stone guard. This brand is called ‘stone stomper’ and we simply connect the netting to the back of the car when we hook on. After researching all the options on the market we found this was a good lightweight solution and a great Australian made product.
Tyre Deflators: We use the Staun Tyre Deflators which are the easiest, most accurate way of decreasing your vehicle’s tyre pressure. You can pre-set the PSI on each deflator and it does all the work for you. Once you have finished screwing on all of them, the first one has pretty much finished.
Fans: We had sirocco fans installed for each of our beds. These fans are nice and quiet and require little power to run.
Plates: We use Corelle plates with thin sheets of foam separating the plates and bowls etc. Our teacups are kept in a small holder to stop breakages and any rattling.
Levelling the van: We use a small spirit level to ensure the caravan is level. If it’s out we use our levelling ramps to level up and once these are in place we use some wheel chocks so the van sits safely with no chance of movement.
Microwave – We knew we were going to hit some pretty bumpy roads on our travels so took a moment to replace the screws holding our microwave in with something a little more serious! So now there is no chance it will fall out. When we travel we also remove the glass plate and runners so nothing can break.
Radios: We love our 2-way UHF radios and use them to communicate when backing into a new campsite. They came in super handy when we almost hit a bridge with our caravan and had to reverse into peak hour traffic (read more about that here). They also come in handy when Rob takes the kids out for an adventure and I can tell him when dinner is ready!
Toilet paper: You don’t need to buy the expensive speciality RV toilet paper. We just use the 1 or 2 ply paper from the supermarket. This is usually packed in single rolls so we also pop a spare one in the car for when we may be out and about.
12V Plugs: We had some extra 12V USB outlets installed on either side of our bed as well as near our TV and drifter panel. These are super handy to charge all our devices (phones, tablets, GoPro, cameras etc).
Caravan Matting: We love our caravan floor matting for outside our van. We usually peg this out to create a living space for us all. We also have the side screens for shade and privacy. We use pegs to secure the mat to the ground and have found a ‘peg puller’ is a must to help extract pegs from hard grounds.
Solar Power: Our caravan has 2 large solar panels on the roof and we also use a solar blanket. We explain how solar power works in an easy to understand explanation here and even show how we can make a cappuccino with our solar set up here.
Awning – To help secure our caravan awning we use an Anti-flap kit and curved rafters. We love these and they provide great peace of mind when strong winds come up. We created a short video about this that you can view below where we show you how easy they are to install.
Clothesline: We have installed a permanent clothesline under our awning by using some plastic coated cable, a few crimps and a turnbuckle. This allows us to hang up towels and washing easily. We also have a little mini clothes hanger for all of our ‘smalls’.
Fly Paper: I hate using any chemical sprays and aerosols so we always have a fly swatter handy. We have also recently discovered fly-paper which we hang up inside the caravan to catch those pesky flies that find their way inside. You can purchase these in the bug spray section of the supermarket.
Plastic Tubs: We use plastic tubs to store a lot of our items in. They pack well in the back of our adventure truck and also double as a bucket bath for the kids (they usually have their own each but decided they wanted to share in the pic above).
Bread – We store our flat wrap bread and pizza bases in the oven and any loaves of bread in our microwave.
Wall art: As weight is always a consideration when living in a caravan, as well as making sure things don’t move around when you drive, we have kept our wall art simple. We have a feather collection hanging on the wall that we add to as we travel. We also have a few photos held on with good old blue tack. We tried and failed with keeping a plant alive as we travel, so we bit the bullet and purchased a small hanging pot and a little fake foliage (not ideal but it looks pretty and we don’t have to water it or worry about quarantine issues at state border crossings).
Wall Hooks: We have added some 3M hooks throughout the van to hang items like keys, hats and bags etc.
Remotes: We attached 2 sided velcro onto our wall and remotes (Tv and Aircon), these sit nicely on the wall so we never lose them and with all the bumpy driving they haven’t fallen off yet!
Jigsaw puzzles: We discard the puzzle box and simply use a snap lock bag to store the pieces. There is usually a picture of the puzzle on the box that we simply cut out and include in the bag so we know what we are building.
Lego/Duplo: This has been a huge hit for us. We store our lego in a zip up freezer shopping bag and pop it in a cupboard on the floor.
Outside wash station: If you are trying to conserve water you can set up a little wash station outside for the family to use throughout the day with a bucket of water, soap and a hand towel.
Sard Wonder Soap: Scrubbing kid’s clothes is the norm for us. We only have a few articles of clothing each so when the kids get a food or mud stain out comes the Sard Wonder Soap and away we go. I simply store it in a soap holder and we travel with a few multipurpose buckets that we can soak clothes in.
Contact over door vent: When travelling on dusty dirt roads we cover the front door air vent. We simply purchased a roll of contact (like what you would cover your school books with) and pre-cut them to size so they are ready to go when we come across a dusty road!
Toilet chemicals: We use the Walex branded toilet chemicals and find the Blue pack smells the nicest. We have also heard people using Napisan in their caravan toilet but that didn’t work as well as Walex for us. We also pop in a small drop of Eucalyptus oil if needed to add a nice smell. Every few weeks/months we also purchase the Thetford toilet canister cleaner to give the toilet cartridge a good clean out.
Shower: We take our shower head off for travel and wrap it in a face cloth so it won’t get scratched. We have added in a shower caddy that hangs off a suction cup hook.
We have also found that if not closed tight, the shower fan hatch can come open as we drive so we make sure to give it an extra tighten before we drive away.
Washing up: We have a flat cloth dish rack that we use for drying dishes and every few weeks we throw it in the washing machine.
- Want to see a tour of our caravan? Click here. Planning your own Lap of Oz – we share some beginner tips here.
- We also travel with an OzTent – you can read all about our tent set up here and watch a video showing how easy it is to set up in just 30-seconds here.
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