CMCA - Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia
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Life Hacks on the Road
A wonderful part of travelling is the opportunity to meet new people and garner information and tips on where to go, what to see and what to pack.
Words and Images by: CAROLYNE JASINSKI

Whether it's in a free camp or park, most nomads love a chat and to share their stories. It doesn't matter where you come from, what you do (or did) for a living or how much you earn, there is always room for a connection and the exchange of invaluable information that makes life on the road that much easier.

Here are some hot tips we gathered while on a half lap of Australia in our motorhome:

1. THINK MINIMALISM

Don’t take too much with you and remember the weight restrictions.

2. PACKING LIGHT

Again, don’t take too much. Remember the 3:1 tops-to-bottoms ratio. Pack hot and cold-weather clothes separately. They can be stored away when not needed. Pack clothes in green, reusable shopping bags — they fit perfectly into most RV cupboards and are easy to pull in and out.

3. IF YOU DON’T USE IT, LOSE IT

Place a coloured sticker on all those things you packed because you knew they would “come in handy”. As you use them, remove the sticker. If, after three months, the sticker is still there, leave this item home on your next trip.

4. ‘TO DO’ LIST

Have a check list for the necessary tasks before you take off, like close all the windows and skylights, put the antenna down, lock doors, drawers and the fridge, and detach from power and water — don’t laugh, I’ve seen people drive off while still hooked up.

Boil water once in the morning and store in a thermos

5. OFF TO THE SHOW!

Often showgrounds can offer a cheap place to stay — sometimes with power.

6. ONLY TAKE THINGS WITH TWO USES

You’ll see lots of examples in these tips — microfibre cloths, buckets, paper towels, Chux wipes, sarongs, take-away containers, cordial bottles, shopping bags, doggy doo bags …

7. WASHING CLOTHES

For washing clothes, grab a big bucket with a lid. Add water, wool wash and dirty clothes then put on the lid and drive. Agitation while driving washes clothes and because you’ve used wool wash, you don’t need to rinse.

8. RECYCLE CONTAINERS

Take-away containers fit perfectly in the tiny on-board fridges and the lids help keep them in place when stacking.

Microfibre cloths have multiple uses

9. TRASH & TREASURE

Op shops are perfect for when you break or lose something and need to replace it — think saucepans, casserole dishes, coffee cups, champagne glasses!

10. RUB-A-DUB DUB

For those with on-board showers, stand in one of those big flexible buckets (available from stores like Kmart and hardware shops). Save the water in the bucket to wash your feet later. Or, add dirty clothes to stand on and stomp while washing yourself, killing two dirty birds with one wash.

11. TEA TIME PREP

Boil water once in the morning and store in a thermos for use during the day. Saves gas and makes morning tea and lunch stops even easier.

12. ICE MAGIC

Two-litre cordial or milk containers full of ice make great blocks for the bottom of Eskys and save on the amount of ice you need to buy.

13. REDUCE AND RE-USE

Insulated shopping bags make the best toiletries bags. They are waterproof, so can stand on the ground, and are large enough to carry your toiletries, clean underwear and a towel. They also make great beach bags.

14. POSH FEET

Bathmats are a little bit of luxury and are so good when you get out of the shower and don’t want to try the balancing act on your thongs. Buy cheap and small ones from Ikea, $2 shops or op shops. Microfibre cloths can double as great mats and are easy to wash.

Freeze dinners and use as ice when you set out;

15. FUEL FOR THOUGHT

Always have a jerry can of spare fuel.

16. REFUELLING

Always top up wherever you can. Don’t wait until the tank is almost empty or you may get caught short in the middle of nowhere.

17. VACUUM SEAL MEAT

This will keep your meat/fish/vegies fresh for up to five times longer than when it’s not vacuum-sealed. You can buy your own machine for about $130 from places like Target. It’s really handy if you like (and catch) fish.

Lots of butchers will also vacuum seal meat for a small price if you ask, plus they love your business.

18. FROZEN MEALS

Freeze a few dinners in takeaway containers and use them as ice when you set out on your trip. This can also be done at each caravan park stop — take advantage of the camp kitchens.

19. LONG-LIFE MILK

Learn to love it as it doesn’t need refrigeration until it’s opened.

20. MENU PLANNING

Plan your meals and shop accordingly, then buy a few cupboard staples like baked beans or cans of soup for when you are caught short or just decide somewhere is so nice you want to stay longer.

Must haves include fly nets, First Aid kits, books and torches

21. BORDER PATROL

Be aware of quarantine and food restrictions when crossing state borders to avoid having to throw out valuable food. Fresh fruit, veggies and honey will be confiscated.

22. H2O ON THE GO

Always have plenty of spare water. We take 4 x 10L plastic containers and replace or refill them as we use them.

23. FLY NETS

Worth their weight (and more) in gold — especially if you’re heading to the Outback. The further inland you go, the more expensive they get. Not only do they keep the pesky flies at bay, the nets also act as a sunshade for your face.

24. SHED SOME LIGHT

Everyone has their own special torch. Some like a tiny torch attached to their keys, or one with a magnet.

I like my head torch with rechargeable batteries. It’s on your head so you don’t have to hold it and, apart from looking a bit geeky, comes in very handy for midnight walks to the loo or nights out fishing on the jetty.

25. ZIP IT

Zip lock bags have so many uses — they save space in fridges and cupboards for leftovers or half-used open packets of biscuits (that never happens with me).

They offer a waterproof container when carrying bits and pieces — even mobile phones — in backpacks next to water bottles. They can also be washed out and re-used again. They may also be used for smelly bait or fishing rigs, weights etc if you don’t want to carry a tackle box.

26. PAPER TOWELS

Another best friend on the road are paper towels. Save water and use them to wipe plates instead of rinsing them or to wipe off most dirt before a wash. Can be used to dry dishes as well or wipe up spills. Then use them as a fire starter.

27. WIPING SPILLS

Some people don’t like using paper and choose Chux wipes instead. They do the same trick, but you can wash and reuse them.

28. WET WIPES

Heard of a “pommy bath”? Wet wipes are brilliant when you have no or limited water. Start with your face and work your way down! Just don’t throw them into the toilet — even if they say flushable, they are not.

29. SPARE PARTS

Specs; batteries; screws; nuts; and hose fittings (for when you leave yours attached to the caravan park taps).

30. GOLD COINS

Start collecting (and hiding them) for use in caravan park washing machines.

31. REPAIR KIT

Selection of glues, tapes, cable ties, ropes, sharp knife, lighter or matches and a Leatherman or multi-tool.

32. FIRST AID KIT

Don’t leave home without this. Basics like bandaids, pain killers and antihistamines can make life comfortable and bandages and knowledge can save lives — do a first aid course.

33. DUCT TAPE

Great to fix leaks, cracks, broken bits and pieces and can trip-proof many a hazard like cords running across the ground.

34. TOILET PAPER

Always take a bit extra - just in case.

35. BOOKS

Take books, books and more books (maybe on a Kindle to save room), puzzles, playing cards and crosswords, plus pen and paper.

36. WALKIE TALKIES

These have saved many a partnership on the road. Telling the driver to go left or right and back up just a smidge more is much nicer than yelling at them and hoping they hear you. They can also help keep track of the kids.

37. HOOKS

Buy an over-the-door hook to take to the shower block — there are never enough hooks or shelves.

38. SOLAR LIGHTS

Reduce tripping hazards at night by placing some of these cheap lights around tent ropes and awning struts. Pool noodles cut in half and wrapped around ropes also stop many a hazard.

39. SNACK PACKS

Hardware stores sell screw packs that make great snack packs. You’ll eat more healthy options and save cash as well.

40. TALCUM POWDER

Spread talcum powder around any structure that touches the ground (like tyres or awning struts) to stop ants climbing up inside your RV.

41. MIDGE BITES

So many tips on how to prevent and then how to deal with midge bites. Take Vitamin B Tablets to prevent being bitten.

Antihistamines can help stop itching.

Tea tree oil dabbed on open sores helps heal them and ease itching. Dipping a teaspoon in boiling water then dabbing bite marks gently and quickly until you can hold it down for longer helps ease pain. Some people swear by squeezing the bite and releasing the toxins.

42. BACKPACK

Have one of these packed and ready to use with all the essentials — water, sunblock, fly nets, insect spray, bandaids and hats.

43. SARONGS

Sarongs work in so many ways. Handy to wear to the beach or to the shower, extra shade hanging from awnings, handy curtain and can double as a temporary sheet.

44. PAPER PLATES

If you have to use them, they also come in handy as fire starters.

Have a backpack ready with all the essentials

45. DOGGY POO BAGS

You can buy whole rolls of these biodegradable bags and, apart from their obvious use, they make great rubbish bags.

46. SUPPORT THE LOCALS

This can come in various forms. Buying petrol is a necessity, but maybe also hit the local bakery, buy meat from the local butcher (who may even vacuum seal it for you), eat out one night at the local pub or cafe.

47. SECURITY

Never leave your vehicle unlocked — even if you’re just ducking to the loo. Don’t tempt thieves by leaving valuables in sight. Don’t leave anything of value near the door — it’s very easy and quick for them to reach in and steal your keys or handbag or camera.

Take a journal to record all the fun

48. TALK TO PEOPLE

It’s the best way to learn the ropes and pick up new tips on places to go, things to see and more handy hints for on the road.

49. JOURNAL

If you’re like me, you’ll need a journal or two to record all the fabulous times you are having.

50. ENJOY every day as if it’s your last.

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Category: Features
Written: Fri 01 May 2020
Printed: May, 2020
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