This post is all about the items we packed and or have used, that have been lifesavers at times, and must needs in our eyes for this trip we are undertaking.
These items and this list is not only for our records and memory, but it is also a list for anyone interested in knowing what we think is a must for travelling in a car, especially around Australia.
We had only a little experience in camping on our own when we set off on this trip. Only drawing from my childhood experiences and then a few camping adventures Alex and I had undertaken together since meeting. So take these points as our personal successes and camping guide for ourselves. If it is helpful to others then and helps them pack better than we did when we started, then bonus!
So lets begin. First item that we could definitely not live without, and in fact an item we highly recommend, would be our:
Our decision to buy a rooftop tent started way before the planning of our drive around Australia, in fact it started even before we knew we wanted to make that trip!
In the beginning of Alex and I’s relationship we first spent a year flying back and forth between the Netherlands and Australia, doing long distance.
Alex was the first one to start our trips back and forth to each other, coming to Australia for the first time in November 2013.
Now there was some serious excitement and nerves in the lead up to this trip. After all we had only met for two weeks in China and then spent the last 4ish months Skyping every day and hanging out to see each other again finally. I went shopping soooo many times and on the day he was to fly in at 4pm I was up at 7am to get ready.
Now the reason there is this long introduction into why we love our rooftop tent, is because when Alex arrived in Perth, the day after he arrived I took him camping. I also just love to share how we met because life would not be the same without my wonderful Dutchman.
But we went camping. First we went down south to and then after a few days we made the long drive to Exmouth in the north of WA. It was there that on the site next to us was this amazing 4WD with a rooftop tent. Alex was taken with their set up and talked about it that week whilst in Exmouth and then on numerous occasions throughout our relationship.
So when it came to choosing our sleeping contraption for our trip, a rooftop tent was already in the depths of his thoughts. There was also that aspect of sleeping off the ground that appealed to Alex, after all we were going to visit the north of Australia where if you camped anywhere near water you coulddddd encounter crocodiles. And well being off the ground suited me also, get away from all those bugs!
Alex researched and researched different brands and concluded that a Darche rooftop was the best brand. It cost a little more than all the others, but it had a longer life span, it had way more cool functions and add on’s, and well it was just cooler!
So when the 2017 Caravan and Camping show came around early this year, Alex and I went with my dad, the camping guru.
There we visited the Darche display a number of times to test out their different tents. In the end as you can guess we brought one, big surprise!
And it has been the best purchase we could have made! It has in the end saved us so much money in regards to accommodation, it is extremely comfortable and it stops so many people at campgrounds who ask us about it. #wearecool.
Spices and Cutlery Box
Item number two on our list of essentials, is our cutlery and spices box.
Whilst preparing for our trip we were wondering how on earth we would keep our cutlery easily accessible, as well as all our spices. We are avid users of many spices in every meal and so they needed to be on hand for every eating occasion.
So whilst shopping for some items just before we departed, like bin bags and toilet paper, we walked down an isle in Woolworths with large containers. We saw this container that had a tray on top and space underneath, I thought it was perfect for spices and cutlery. And there you go that is the exciting story of our spice/cutlery box!
But seriously it is such a useful box, and we believe it is originally a sowing kit box. Who knew…
I am a little obsessed with drinking large amounts of water during the day, I had two bottles on my desk at work and would drink them twice throughout the day, equaling about 3-4ltrs. So when it came to ensuring I had a means of drinking enough water whilst we were on the road, I had to find a big enough bottle. Turns out there was a company that sold exactly that product, The Big Bottle Co.
I brought Alex and I a bottle each and they have come in seriously great use. We have had one die and go to bottle heaven due to Alex’s rage and a rock in the wrong place at the wrong moment. You can read all about that in one of our old posts whilst on the Gibb River Road. And the only fault we can find with these bottles is their size and where to place them in the car, but otherwise they have been essential to our trip. Keeping up at least some form of healthiness whilst in a car for large amounts of the day!
This item is and has been a lifesaver! It is not ours, in fact we have in on loan from my wonderful dad, and without it we feel we would be just that little bit stuck at times in regards to food, and fresh food at that. The Gibb River Road was by far the part of our trip the fridge got the most use. We packed enough food in there to last us 12 days, and that included fresh and delicious veggies with each meal. In the end we did forget to use some items and they had to be thrown away, as the fridge does not act quite like a fridge at home. But it is a bloody legend of an appliance!
We run the fridge off a second battery that our Prado already had when we brought it, a function we are so thankful to have. Having this fridge has definitely made a significant different to our trip and to the food choices we have made, even more so to our budget.
Of course all meals we have made along the way would have been possible with an esky and some ice but we would have shopped more frequently and would have had to buy ice ever second day or so. That costs a lot, especially when you are in the middle of nowhere and its over 25 degrees outside.
No we definitely could not be doing this trip without your fridge dad, and we are forever grateful for its use and the money it has saved us! Thank you!!
IKEA Food Clips
Now you are wondering what the hell IKEA food clips might bed right? Well they are these genius thingymabobs:
We use them to seal open packs essentially. And believe it or not they are so cheap, so handy when you need to seal something quickly, and they come in super pretty colour combinations. That last point is important to me!
I hate the amount of plastic we use every day and the amount products we buy come in. So using these clips has not only reduced our use of cling wrap, zip lock bags, plastic bags and a bit of our personal plastic imprint, but it has also saved on waste from products expiring or going off.
Go get yourself some of these, for a trip or for at home! We think they are amazing #IKEAlife.
Hot Water Bottles
Would you think that hot water bottles would come in handy whilst on a trip around Australia? We didn’t think so at first either. But after a few days spent in Karijini National Park with temperatures getting down to .04, they were on the top of our shopping list!
And these cheap as bottles have come in so much use since those freezing nights. Whether it was a little fresh when the sun down, it rained or we just wanted a little warming up after a cold swim, they have come in handy. They were worth the $10 each spend and we will be taking them with us in our bags over to New Zealand in a few weeks just in case!
Bob and Leonne, Alex’s borther and sister in-law gave us a shower bag quite some time ago, just when the idea of this trip was beginning to form. This was a seriously well thought of gift and we are very grateful to have it guys! We have used this on so many occasions now we cant even count them on one hand. We have taken bush showers with freezing cold water in Karijini, and taken warmish showers, by warming the water on the bonnet or in the sun, somewhere in the north of Western Australia and in the Northern Territory. Every shower has been amazing, even if we had the bag hanging from a tree or the roofrack, with one of us guiding the water whilst the other scrubbed clean. We never had a shelter like some fancy people, but in ur bathers we have always been able to get clean if need be.
If your going bush and like showers then this is a nifty little item to have in the car.
If you are without a shower bag then have no fear, you can get clean with baby wipes! It is a sad fact to admit, but we have gone through way too many packets of baby wipes on our trip thus far. They come in handy so often, just have some in your car.
Chris and Annette gave Alex and I two microfiber towels in preparation for our trip. As many would know they roll up to nothing, dry super fast and for us have been great for those trips to the beach, those roadside bush showers I was mentioning above, and for those days where we leave early and or it’s raining and we had no time to dry anything. These towels have replaced the other normal towels we brought on this trip, which are only brought out when at a caravan park and we have time to dry them. Super handy item to have on this trip!
Butane Gas Cooker
A ‘cooka’ as I pronunce it, is another item my dad has leant us for this trip. We have an amazing BBQ we brought for this trip which has been used on a number of occasions, however the butane gas cooker is just that little bit better. You see it not only compacts into a tiny box, but it cools down quickly and is super easy in the mornings when we cook breakfast and then want to get on the road right away.
Another item from dad’s camping supplies that we don’t want to travel without!
What was at the time of purchase and excessive spend, has on this trip turned out to be an amazing investment.
I was travelling into the city one afternoon after work back in Perth, to meet Alex and some friends for dinner when my phone died on the train. I panicked a little too much, went into the first shop I saw and brought a very powerful powerbank than had charge and could of course charge my phone instantly. After that I used this charger a lot during my last semester at university, travelling straight from work there. It came in a lot of use and was a staple item in my handbag. When our trip departure approached we thought about means of charging, not only for our phones but our cameras and iPads. So Alex brought another one and we have used them every day of this trip! They charge our phones three times over and we think an essential item we could not trip without. After all we take a lot of pictures on our phones.
A Waka Waka is a solar charger and light, a gift from Alex’s parents.
We place it in the front window whilst we drive, it charges away and then at night we have an awesome light with varying strengths. It also charges a phone at least once and all just from charging it in the sun. We are in Australia after all, where even on an overcast day the sun does shine through and charge this beauty of an item.
At the Caravan and Camping show we came across this brand of collapsible cooking items for camping. It included pots, pans, kettles, containers, boxes and all sizes of sinks.
I checked them out quite a bit and as we were leaving Alex and I brought one. My dad at that time was somewhere else so we called him and said we were ready to go if he was. We told him about our purchase, which he replied with a laugh. He had just brought us one of the sinks also. My dad had in fact gotten the sink for a cheaper price than we had, so we returned ours and accepted the cool sink from my dad.
We use this sink of course to wash dishes, but also to carry all our food items from the car to our camper kitchen or table. It folds down almost flat and stores easily in the car. No idea how we would wash dishes without this contraption, so again thank you dad!
Free Camp Book
We mentioned this briefly in our post about items we could have gone without. This item specifically we cannot live without but it got a mention as an item we decided to keep when spring cleaning our car. We received this book from my nan. It contains the latest information on free camping spots, as well as paid spots around Ausralia. It comes with details maps and a bit of information on each spot so you can determine whether its worth visiting beforehand. We use this book every day and rely on it to locate free places to stay. After all we cannot spend 7-8 months travelling Australia without working and always stay in caravan parks! We rely on free camps, but we have also had some of the best stays at them. Our favourite free camp thus far, without a doubt was just south of Tenterfield, NSW. It had a shelter with an open fire pit and a big wooden picnic bench to sit at. We intended on only staying one night at this location, but in fact stayed 4 nights. Not only was this free camp amazing, but the town nearby was also a pretty cool place to spend 5 days.
This book is amazing, thank you nan! You need this in your life if your going camping in Australia. Free camping can be amazing fun! Getting back to nature and the essentials is just what we need sometimes.
A last item on our list of essentials is our Spotify playlist. Alex has a Spotify Premium account where we can download the songs without adds and play them all offline. There are a number of music apps these days but we have been so thankful to have great music during the long hours we spend in the car thanks to Spotify. Any playlists you think we would enjoy please comment them below, we would love some new songs!
This item might be self-explanatory but we still want to explain why for us this item has been a lifesaver!
We recently stayed a night in the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney. That blog will come and detail all the excitement of our stay, trust me it will be a funny story to re-tell. But for the sake of justifying the rope, it saved our tent during a very crazy storm, and without it our tent and us possibly would not be in the same state we are today! You want to read about that nights stay now don’t you?!
A secondary reason why a rope is a great item to pack for a trip like ours is, it comes in handy when Chris, Alex’s dad comes up with an awesome camping invention. We have discussed it before but without his idea we would be without light on many occasions.
This item again has a story behind it that will come in full in it’s own post, but lets just say that it involves super glue, toilet paper, a mattress and surprisingly a good nights sleep.
Stay tuned to read about this story.
In summary, we hope our list of things to take camping is a fun read! At the end of the day, everyone has their essential items and these are just the main handful of ours. The less you have in fact ensures you get back to the basics and really enjoy where you are and who you are with!