Let’s talk about mods. It’s easy to start thinking about getting bigger, better new camping equipment or a modification to our pride and joy like a new roof rack, or shock absorbers. But a lot of the time this also equates to breaking the piggy bank open and scrounging around for some extra dollary-doos. And for many of us, that’s something we don’t simply have.
As Shaun Whale says too many people think they need to drop an open cheque book off at their local 4WD shop and that really doesn’t have to be the case.
We spoke to a few of our friends who have come up with some 15 nifty ‘travel hacks’ that will take your camping set-up from tired and needing some TLC to a first-class super tourer in no time. Best of all, these instant modifications are simple and inexpensive to implement straight away.
1. Few things change life on the road like an organised system. Mike Collister, from Adventure Curated, says they use tote bags to separate items; coffee kit, lunch kit, and dinner snacks. For longer trips, they stack them two high. Their top draw stores all their camera and electronic gear, and has 240v from a 700-watt inverter to keep everything charged. Their bottom draw has recovery gear, first aid, tools and a 150-watt solar blanket all within easy reach. “Everything lives in the car, which makes morning pack up a breeze”, he says.
Your set-up may be different, but the biggest tip is to make everything within easy reach.
2. If you’re going bush and have a solar shower fill it up before you leave so you don’t have to use your drinking water storage to fill it later.
3. Take a 20L bucket with a sealable lid. So many uses. Chuck your clothes, some water and wool wash in there and go for a drive. When you arrive, your washing is done! You can also use it as a bin with a lid to keep the bugs/furry campsite raiders out.
It can serve as extra storage for grey water, collecting rainwater and even as a seat or table as a roadside stop. Now that’s multi-purposing!
4. Bread in a jar. At home create bread dough like you normally would (or banana or herb bread) and place it in a can such as a tomato jar. Store the jars in the fridge and use them for an easy brekkie or entrée by placing the bread in the campfire.
5. Burning some sage makes a great insect repellent but one other user recommends “Natures Botanical.”It’s an oil based crème with Rosemary and Cedarwood oil. Given its oil based, you only need a very small amount. “It reminds me of Vicks vapour rub and funnily enough is found in shops selling horse equipment. Apparently, it was first developed for horses to keep flies away from their eyes”, says Mike McCall.
6. Use cotton balls covered in wax or Vaseline as a fire starter.
7. Use some shade cloth under your swag to stop the sand and dirt collecting on the base. And if it ever rains, it will just run through the mesh. You can also wipe your feet on it before hopping in the swag.
8. Scott Montgomery, our WA Area Sales Manager and a seasoned camping veteran, had this to say:
“I always set the swag up under cover, either the fox wing or a tarp, to stop the rain or moisture settling on the swag. If it gets wet the moisture can seep through the canvas making the bedding wet. If it does get wet, lay the dry tarp in the swag before you roll it up to stop the moisture getting on the bedding.”
9. Cut up pool noodle pieces to go on the guy ropes of the fox wing (or tent) so you don’t trip over the ropes (it probably has happened to you one too many times).
10.A remote control for LED lights. You can get one for $5 and add it to almost any strip light. When it’s time for bed, press the remote for lights out. It even has a dimmer to set the mood.
11. Grab a rubber backed picnic rug. It’s not only good for picnics but works a treat as a throw rug on your camper floor and as insulation under the bed on those real frosty nights.
12. Grate 1/8th of a bar of soap and add to 2 cups of boiling water. Stir until the soap has dissolved. Pour into a 2-litre bottle and top up with cold water. You can also add a few drops of essential oils for a nice scent if desired. Cheap and goes a long way.
You’ll get multiple uses out of it like washing clothes and dishes.
13. Use clothes pegs to seal opened packets to keep fresh
14. Instead of taking whole eggs and risking breakages, crack a dozen into one or two large plastic jars or bottles (must have a wide neck opening) and use as required. Great for scrambled eggs and you can mark on the side of the bottle every two eggs put in, to give you an idea of usage.
15. For those who can’t do without the movie experience while camping, here is a tip for a quick easy projector screen. With the availability of a small pocket projector, fold a king size white sheet in half and slide in a tent pole to weigh it down and hang from a car side awning or camper trailer with bulldog clips. It’ll just be like going to a drive-in cinema only better.
We would like to say thanks to Mike from Adventure Curated, Nathan Helms from The Great Escape Australia, Scott Montgomery, Danny Bosch from Danny's 4WD adventures, Mick McCall and Mark Evans for their contributions to this blog.