1. 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 makes the poles slide easier 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 and will make them difficult to use! Use a silicon spray or dry-lube stick instead.
2. 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!
3. Use a hand-held CB to give directions when reversing your van. Keep your arguments private and save your marriage!
4. Portable Toilet chemical substitute- We use homebrand napisan instead of expensive 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 harmful additives, The cheap stuff is actually more environmentally friendly because of this. Plus we keep H/B napisan for our clothes too so its not an EXTRA thing to make room for. A litre of water and a teaspoon of napisan in the bottom tank to start with, add another teaspoon after each no.2 or as required. you’ll be surprised but the lack of bad 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”.
5. 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!
6. 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 batteries are an important resource. 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 older globe installed just incase!
7. Basic tools such as a long handled shovel, an axe, a plastic rake and a hard bristled brush/broom. Take them with you- you will find a use for them for sure! Oh and never buy a cheap hammer for your tents pegs, buy a decent one to start with and save $$$ in the long run. We bought a few cheapies and they just fall apart after a while.
8. 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!
9. Create a list of 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 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!
10. 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.
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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