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Tips & Hints

Everyone has their tips, tricks and ideas for making a camping trip or life on the road easier- we have ours too and we want to share some of them with you.

  • Forget the expensive mozzie and sand-fly repellants- make your own and save $$$. To a 1 litre spray bottle add 300mls of Metho, 200 mls of baby oil, 100 mls of Dettol and a few drops of citronella oil- mix well. It may seem expensive to purchase the ingredients initially but it makes heaps! The baby oil makes the spray stick to your skin, the Dettol is used to soothe your skin and protect any existing bites you may have, and the citronella helps deter the mozzies and sand-flies. The Metho is simply to help mix the solution and make it go further and thins it out to make it possible to spray it. I’ve heard of people adding sunscreen, lavender oil and skin lotion but that’s a personal preference. I’m allergic to sand-flies and they absolutely love me. This is the only effective solution I have found that works for more than just 5 minutes!

mozzie spray

  • Never be tempted to use WD40 or similar sprays on your adjustable tent poles. It may seem like a great idea to begin with and may make the poles slide easier to slide but after a short while the WD40 will attract dirt, dust and sand and drag it all inside the poles when you use them making them gritty, and worst of all the dirt will stick in the thread of the thumb tightening screws or twist-lock mechanism and will make them difficult to use! Use a silicon spray or dry-lube stick instead.

camping tips

  • Use a hand-held CB to give directions when reversing your van. Keep your arguments private and save your marriage. But these are also great for safety on bushwalks or when your older kids go for a walk. Give them one to use and keep one back at camp.

camping tips

  • Portable Toilet chemical substitute- We use homebrand nappy soaker instead of the expensive ‘proper’ toilet chemicals. Homebrand napisan has the same active ingredient as the bottled chemicals but without the fancy scented perfumes (which I personally think makes it smell worse). DONT use the branded napisan either, it actually has less active ingredient and more useless additives, the cheaper stuff is actually more environmentally friendly because it does not contain the extra additives. We keep H/B napisan to soak our clothes too so its not an EXTRA thing to make room for. A litre of warm water and a teaspoon of H/B napisan in the bottom tank to start with, add another teaspoon after each no.2 or as required. you’ll be surprised by the absence of smells- once you try it you’ll be sold on this method! Another tip is a small squirt of bio-degradeable dish washing liquid in the top tank and a quick flush before you use the loo, this helps “lubricate” the bowl (makes it easier to clean) and the dishwashing liquid helps break down the “fats” quickly in the bottom tank for less “smells”.

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  • Ropes, Ropes and more Ropes!!! You can never have enough ropes! Especially if you plan on camping near the beach or just in case the weather turns bad! They are a great insurance policy. A must have for tent and camper trailer camping. Always great for a makeshift clothesline too!

camping tips

  • LED lighting. Many vans (particularly older vans) have standard incandescent lighting throughout their interior. Some modern vans now use LED globes as standard. LED lighting provides a much whiter light almost comparable to a flurorescent light. The best thing is they only use 1/10th of the power the older style globes use. So you end up getting more light for only a fraction of your battery power- perfect for bush camping when your battery power is an important commodity. LED globes are very cheap now and the internet is flooded with different types to suit your light fittings. LED strip lighting is popular for tents and camper trailers and LED lanterns make a great choice for portable lighting. They make a great solution for when you are looking at making your rig as power-efficient as possible. however, we personally find an incandescent light better for reading under because its a more natural, yellower light so perhaps keep at least one incandescent globe installed just incase!

interior lights

  • Basic tools such as a long handled shovel, an axe, a plastic rake and a hard bristled brush/broom come in very handy. Take them with you- you will find a use for them for sure! Oh and never buy a cheap rubber hammer for your tents pegs, buy a decent steel mallet to start with and save $$$ in the long run. We bought a few cheapies and they just fall apart after a while.

camping tips

  • Invest in a $30 trailer lock. The type that attaches to your tow hitch with a padlock that stops a tow-ball being hooked up. Its cheap insurance and a great deterrent!

camping tips

  • Create a list of consumable part numbers for your vehicle and keep it handy. Such as Air, Oil and Fuel filter numbers, brake pad numbers, your engine model and vehicle make/model etc. This info can be handy if you ever need to order parts if you break down and you don’t have the luxury of having a mechanic handy. And take some spare filters/hoses/oil with you just in case too!

camping tips

  • A few star pickets cut down in size make great tent pegs for beach camping or to secure annexes in heavy winds. Take a few with you next time just in case. Cut them to around 30cm and put a point on one end to make it easier to get in the ground. This might seem starange but often we have found commercially bought sand pegs just don’t cut it!

camping tips

  • Teflon Tape and Hose fittings!! A dripping or squirting tap is just plain annoying not to mention it being a perfect way to waste water. As we travel from campsite to campsite and hook our camper up to mains water taps, its hit and miss whether or not we are going to get a dodgy tap with a dodgy thread. No matter how good your fitting is our how new your washer is, if you cant screw it on snuggly it wont make a seal. A cheap and simple solution is to carry a spool of Teflon Tape or Plumbers Tape in your kit. Wrap a few turns of tape around the taps thread (clockwise) before you screw on your fitting- that should fix the drips and only costs a few $$ from Bunnings! Just remember to take your tape off out of courtesy for the next person. Another tip is make sure you use good quality tap fittings. With all the hooking up and disconnecting of the fittings, cheap plastic ones wear out and begin to pop-off the taps or from the van- Brass fittings are great but be careful they don’t get pinched or that you leave them behind. If you can, use hose fittings with a stop-valve (indicated by the word STOP on the fitting). Use that fitting where it connects to the van- if it pops off, water wont go everywhere!

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  •  We reckon vacuum sealing food is a great way to keep food fresh especially meat & fish. Many butchers will cryovac your meat for you when you buy it. We take along our own machine, that way we can divide into meal sized portions and pack into the freezer. We love buying in bulk to save $$ so having one of these machines makes it easy to keep food for longer. Vacuum sealed food is particularly great for when we head to more remote areas and don’t have the luxury of fresh food shops- we stock up before we leave. We also cut our fresh veges up and put in a sealed bag- we can then just drop the bag into boiling water to cook/steam. The water stays clean and can be used for washing dishes after dinner!

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  • Using shadecloth material for your annexe flooring is so much better than using a tarp/PVC floor. Firstly, water doesn’t pool (form puddles) when it rains, dirt falls straight through the holes making it easier to keep tidy, its non-slip, easy to clean when packing up, it doesn’t kill the grass underneath and can be used on many different surfaces. You can buy shadecloth from places like Bunnings but you will need to sew/hem the edges to prevent fraying. OR its easier to buy ready-made annexe matting from a camping shop.  Check out OZtrail’s Annexe matting (what we use)

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Some of these tips may seem like common sense or even seem a bit frugal but sometimes the simple tips are the ones taken for granted the most.

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