Hacks for travelling in a campervan

Enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Shopping

When hiring a campervan, the first thing you will notice is that everyone stops at the closest supermarket.  It might sound ridiculous, but if you can, try and spend the first night in the van before hitting the shops. You will be surprised how many items you need to buy when you don’t have them at hand. It also prevents you from over-spending and cluttering the little storage space you have. 

Spend the first night unpacking and make a shopping list of the essentials including hand wash, toilet paper, dishwashing detergent, bin bags, torch, sunscreen, cleaning wipes, coffee, milk and bread. Be strategic. You might also notice if something is broken or batteries need to be replaced, which can give you a chance to fix it before starting your long road trip.

Where to stay

The beauty of holidaying in a campervan is that it is literally a house on wheels. Depending on the size of van you get, there’s usually a double bed, kitchen, toilet, shower, lounge area and kitchen table on board. The only problem is you can only be self-contained for a few days before you need to plug the van into a power station and replenish your fresh water and empty your waste.

That’s why it’s highly recommended that every few days you stay in a holiday park to use the facilities. In Australia, Big4 Holiday Parks are a great option and, if you become a member, you can benefit from a lot of great discounts. New Zealand has the same on offer with their Top 10 Holiday Parks. The holiday parks can be a real lifesaver on a long road trip as they offer a great range of facilities including:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Laundry
  • Dump stations
  • Fresh water
  • Powered and unpowered sites
  • Camping
  • Cabins
  • Rubbish bins.

Camper etiquette

  • Arrive at a reasonable hour so you do not disturb fellow campers.
  • Allow a good space between yourself and other campers.
  • Don’t leave any rubbish behind.

Freedom camping

Just because your vehicle is self-contained it doesn’t mean you can pull over anywhere you like and stay the night. In fact, some councils may fine you for not staying in a designated ‘freedom camping’ site. Make sure you obey local signage and regulations and ask the local information centre if you are not sure.

Dump stations

Unfortunately, there is no way to sugar-coat this part of the holiday – using the local dump station facilities is a necessity. The good news is all holiday parks provide an area for you to empty your waste and it is clearly labelled for first time campervanners. There are also plenty of apps available to help you find the closest dump point.

Safety

Rather than camping in a remote area, it is recommended that you stay at a holiday park or camp ground. While the freedom of living in a campervan is exciting, it’s important to have your wits about you when travelling. Here are some helpful tips to keep you safe on your next adventure.

  • Always remember to lock both the front and body of the campervan when you leave to avoid your valuables being stolen and never leave items visible in the front seat.
  • Remember to obey the road rules in the area you are driving and don’t exceed the speed limit. There should be a sticker on your windscreen indicating the maximum speed allowed for the motorhome or campervan.
  • Know the height and weight of the motorhome before going under or over any bridges.
  • Always wear your seatbelt when driving and never move around inside the van while it is in motion.
  • Allow traffic to pass you in overtaking lanes when you can.
  • Take regular breaks on a long road trip to avoid fatigue.
  • Make sure all drawers and cupboards are locked before driving.

Parking

Don’t park your van anywhere where it may cause an obstruction. Many councils place restrictions on how long a caravan can be stationary for in residential areas or marked parking bays.
For more tips on road trips, listen to Episode 4 of the RACQ Living Podcast. RACQ members get 10% discount on Apollo Motorhomes, so you can explore Australia and New Zealand for less.