Now as a starting grey nomad, there is more camping equipment you will need so that your caravan and camper trailer adventure will be most relaxing and enjoyable. Here is a list of some of the camping equipment that will set you up for a memorable trip.
Last month we began to set ourselves up to be grey nomads. We chose a 4 wheel drive and made our choice of accommodation, then we prepared the 4WD for travelling with the second battery under the bonnet and a fridge and I mentioned some of the gear you might need. But we are not done yet in equipping ourselves for the great adventure ahead.
Now you can start planning where you will go. This part of the planning is not only great fun, but it also determines some of the camping equipment, food and water you need to carry. For example, if you choose to travel on Highway 1, you will be on bitumen (most of the time) and usually not too far from the nearest town or roadhouse, so you can stock up on food and drinking water when needed. And minor repairs to the vehicle or caravan can usually be attended to.
Similarly, the Stuart Highway linking Port Augusta and Darwin is also a sealed road and easy, if a little boring at times.
But you must be well prepared, just in case, before you leave home.
Don’t leave home without the following camping equipment…
Maps and navigation aids
Now with a destination decided it’s time for the research. First buy some road maps – one a general road atlas showing all the main roads. And then buy more detailed maps of the area you intend to visit and travel through. There are many top maps available from map shops.
A GPS unit might be handy if you plan some off-road travel or if planning to travel to the big cities.
Then after studying your map you can go online and research the townships, caravan parks, activities, etc available where you plan to go.
During busy times of the year or when you are on a strict timetable, you might like to book your accommodation in advance. But as a grey nomad you will be able to please yourself and make decisions on the day when you are there.
First Aid Kit
A good basic first aid kit is a must have whether you pack the items yourself or buy one from a chemist of other suitable supplier such as St Johns or Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).
A first aid kit should contain band aids, paracetamol, bandages for wounds, eye wash, wound flush, wound and burn dressings, antiseptic and burn creams. Also include useful items such as scissors, tweezers, tape and disposable gloves.
You never know when an incident will occur. Our group was camping at the caravan park at Gem Tree when a camper from another group cut her hand quite badly. Fortunately, our paramedic Steve was travelling with us on that trip and was able to supply enough first aid to stop the bleeding and bandage the wound. The woman was taken by her companions into Alice Springs (150 kilometres away) for a more complete stitching and bandaging.
Have your first aid kit handy where you can get to it quickly as you never can tell when you might need it.
A UHF radio is used for vehicle to vehicle communications over a relatively short distance. This is especially useful if you are travelling with other vehicles.
When alone, the radio can be used to talk to other vehicles such as trucks or other caravanners for advice on road conditions etc. Caravan travellers usually choose channel 18.
With a UHF radio you will need a good antenna as well.
Tools, spares and equipment
It’s a good idea to carry some basic spares even if you don’t know how to fit them. There will usually be someone nearby who can help out.
We usually travel with shock absorbers with rubber bushes (serviceable ones from a previous set), hoses and belts, fuel filter, an air filter (depending on where we are headed), wheel studs and nuts (see what happened to the Tanami trailer), fuses, epoxy putty for leaking fuel tanks (see leaking fuel tank thank you), electrical tape, cable ties, araldite glue, some tie wire and cooling system stop leak product (Sealwel).
Depending how far you travel off the bitumen, it would be wise to have some tools with you. A good tool kit should include a range of metric spanners and sockets, pliers, screw drivers and a shifter.
Add to these a hammer (if only for hammering in tent pegs and awnings) and some pointy-nosed pliers as well.
Make sure all the equipment needed for changing a flat tyre is in the car, including the wheel brace and the jack. You could take an extra jack, e.g. a small trolley jack, as a backup for the caravan.
You should also use wheel chocks when changing tyres – if these aren’t available check the area nearby for suitable rocks.
Sometimes a flat tyre can be plugged. In this case a tyre repair kit is very useful. There was one time in the Great Victoria Desert when we had a flat on our vehicle. The team swung into action, located the hole, plugged the tyre and pumped it up again all without taking the tyre off the vehicle. Which reminds me of another useful item of equipment –
This is very useful, particularly for putting more air in the tyres when coming back onto the bitumen. It is always recommended to lower tyre pressures when driving off road on gravel, dirt or sand. The lower tyre pressure enables a larger footprint and better traction and also a more comfortable ride for the occupants of the vehicle.
are very handy – if not for your own setup, there will often be a near neighbour with a flat battery who doesn’t have jumper leads with him.
If you are travelling with others, this list of tools, spares and equipment can be shared between all in the group.
Some other really useful items
These include a fridge slider, cargo barrier, solar panels and an extra spare wheel.
as the name suggests, is a sliding tray to place the fridge on. This slides in and out of the vehicle for easy access to the fridge and its contents.
If you travel like we do, with a mountain of gear, bags and extra spare wheel in the back of the car, then a cargo barrier is essential for the safety of the occupants in the event of a rollover. Our cargo barrier sits behind the front row of seats, which is not that convenient for access to the back seats from the front, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
are another useful piece of camping equipment for when you plan to camp unpowered for a few days. The car batteries are usually charged when driving, but a few days relaxing beside a river somewhere with no driving can cause the dreaded flat battery.
We have a camper trailer which has its own battery to run the lights and the radio that is charged via the car. A solar panel is mounted on the roof to support the battery in a long stop situation. Solar RVs is one supplier of high quality solar panels designed especially for travellers.
Extra spare wheel
You already have a spare wheel on the car and one or two for your tow vehicle. Why would you need another spare wheel? You probably won’t, but you should expect the unexpected.
If the stud pattern of the tow vehicle matches that of the car than the spares on each can be used on either. The stud pattern of our car doesn’t match the camper, so we don’t like to take chances.
We had the experience a long time ago, when we lost 2 tyres at the same time and had only one spare. Fortunately, we were travelling with another vehicle which did have a matching stud pattern so we were able to use their spare. It was straight back to the nearest town for both of us.
Caravan and Camping Show
That’s a lot of information all at once, but fortunately there will be a caravan and camping show near you soon. In Melbourne the Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow is on from 21-26 February at the Showgrounds. You can see everything there I’ve talked about and a whole lot more as well.