6 Hot tips we learnt in our first month full-time Caravanning around Australia
It’s been a long time since our very first month of living on the road full-time, caravaning around Australia. But I recently found these notes in my journal about our first month of our travels. Here are some of the best tips from things we learnt in those early days while were still getting used to living in a caravan full time.
#1: Washing never ends!
I don’t know why I was surprised by this.
I think on holidays you take a break from chores, but this isn’t a holiday now. This is how we live now!
We are bucket washing in order to save money on laundry. It does a pretty good job, and I’m constantly amazed at how dirty the water gets just using woolwash and a bit of natural agitation! But as you have fewer clothes and limited room in the bucket, you’ll need to think of this most days (although you can often stretch the one outfit out over a few days…)
And just because you get a couple of days of rain, don’t think you can just leave it in the bucket to soak…
POOEY!! Learnt that one the hard way.
It took 3 hot water washes with vinegar added to the wash at the laundromat to get the stink out. Ended up costing us a fortune in extra laundry costs! Better off finding a way to get it hung out, even if your van looks like a Chinese laundry or pay the lesser amount for a clothes dryer.
But Laundry can become a big running cost so its worth putting a bit of thought into.
#2: Teva’s are way better than thongs!
Crispy convinced me to give the Teva’s a try and no looking back. Way better arch support than thongs, less sand gets caught under your heels and you are much less likely to suffer a plug blowout when the shoe is strapped around your ankles. Plus they are all terrain! I wear mine in the water and I’m much more confident about where I put my feet when I can’t see what might be lurking on the bottom. I think they are a little more dressy too, than the ol’ thongs.
Even my podiatrist was happy with them.
Certainly acceptable as fancy footwear in most pubs north of the Tropic of Capricorn. There are a lot of different styles to choose from, for both Men and Women.
Clicking on any of the 4 images below will take you to a relevant search on Amazon Australia.
#3: Wax your car AND van before you go!
Ok, ok, I’ll give in to Crispy on this one. I thought it seemed like a lot of extra work BUT we definitely found that with a bit of wax the dirt, bugs and mud will wash straight off really easily, even after the most adventurous of our off-roading.
We also discovered that most NT and QLD water comes from the Great Artesian Basin, even the town supplies, and is therefore really rich in calcium. This water can leave nasty deposits on your vehicles duco which eats into the paint, even after just a light hosing or parking next to a sprinkler. But a wax coating will protect the car and van as well, saving money in the long run.
So, hubby was right this time. That’s me, Crispy – I was right!
Waxing the car and van not only saves money in the long run by protecting your asset, it saves money in the short term too as you spend a lot less money at the car wash when the car cleans up so much easier. Even though car washes recycle their water, you’ll use less water overall after a good waxing, so that’s an extra bonus in places where water is an issue.
Here’s a great article about how to best care for your Caravan’s exterior.
#4: Telstra or Optus?
You will find places where the internet and phone signal is crap, no matter which company you are with. As painful as this can be, we just have to Deal with it.
We live in a huge country! We should be thankful we have as much coverage as we do! Remember those days when we didn’t?
My Gran travelled as a grey nomad in the 90’S – THE 90’S! Thats not that long ago, is it? And there was no WikiCamps or Facebook groups like Everything Caravan & Camping for advice then. And sometimes when you wonder the origin of a saying, or who the actor was in that movie, well, you might just have to wonder. Let’s just not know…
Ok, ok, so after both starting off on Virgin, who roam on Optus (but are to be no more!), we did find there was a LOT of places neither of us could get signal, so we’ve now bit the bullet and we have one of each! We do get coverage in more places on the Telstra phone, but the plans on Optus just are better, so we save most of our data usage requirements until we are in towns where we can use the Optus plan.
Where do you wanna be? Click on the 2 logo’s below to check out a map of Australia with their respective coverage area’s highlighted.
#5: Talk to people about their set up.
People love to share info.
We all love our tow vehicles and vans and have them set up just how we like them and therefore love to show them off. You may pick up some great practical tips from the people on the next site. But remember, not everyone is the expert they think they are and not everyone wants to do it the same way you do.
We felt a lot of pressure when we were first getting started to have everything and to go with certain brands of things but you can’t always afford the best of everything (read our thoughts on this here…) and you constantly have to consider space, weight and durability for every addition and improvement that you do.
In the end it has to be right for you, not your neighbour.
#6: Getting to the destination is not the point.
A lot of people see getting somewhere as the tick off their list.
Uluru, tick. Kings Canyon, tick.
We try to make sure once we get somewhere we take a bit of time to just be still and really absorb the place and the moment. Let the fact of where you are settle on you for a while, before charging onwards with that hike, or tour or next planned activity.
Let it really sink in.
Look around you, listen to all the sounds, breath in the smells.
Wow, look where you are!
We find a nice spot and set a timer for a minimum of five minutes – sometimes longer, it usually depends on how weird we might look to everyone around us at the time.
Just be still and silent until the timer goes off. It really helps you to appreciate the places you are seeing, rather than just mindlessly tramping onwards.
Personally its my way of being less like my colonial forefathers whose natural inclination was to arrive, declare a place conquered or explored as if there was nothing there until they got there and move on. It’s about showing some respect for the sacredness of this amazing country we are privileged to see in this way.
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