Caravanning Tips for Beginners

🚙 27 Caravanning Tips for Beginners!

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After caravanning full-time for four years, I can honestly say that in the beginning, we were complete noobs! It was inevitable that we would make mistakes and learn lessons along the way… and that’s okay.

Unfortunately, caravanning is not always as simple as hitching up and hitting the road. There are oodles of little things to learn along the way.

Here are just some of the considerations…

  • How much stuff do you really need to pack?
  • Should you travel with full or empty water tanks?
  • How do you find water and camps along the way?
  • And what the heck is an ‘anode?!’

While it may all feel pretty overwhelming in the beginning, rest assured that you will get comfortable with all that you need to know soon enough. 

In fact, before you know it, you’ll be an old hand and passing on caravanning tips and nuggets of advice to those who come along after you.

So, in the spirit of passing on knowledge and mistakes made, I’ve written the article that I wish I’d read before hitting the road. My hope is that it will save you the time and agony of learning the lessons the hard way (like I did!).

Here are my best caravanning tips for beginners, especially for those who want to live in a caravan full-time!

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Caravanning Tips for Beginners

Being Too Prepared

'stuff' in the Caravan

The first in our list of caravanning tips for beginners is that we were way over prepared! The first town we stopped in we legit offloaded about 10kg at the local Op Shop (that’s not even an exaggeration). 

Anyone need a spare extension lead or want to buy a socket set? Apparently, you don’t need 3 on the road. Tools going cheap!

I get it, you don’t want to find yourself stuck out in the middle of nowhere, wishing you’d brought that thingamajig along after all. Overpacking before you head out caravanning is the easiest thing in the world. Culling those items down to what you really only need is much harder – but it’s necessary.

Not only can over packing lead to your set up being overweight, but it also eats into your prime storage space. Trust me, you don’t want to have to move ten items out of the way, just to get to that one thing at the back of the cupboard every time. That gets old real quick.

There are plenty of shops along the way. Don’t bother storing things that can be bought as you need them. Even small Outback towns have All-in-one stores with zip ties, thongs and toilet paper.

20+ Tips for Cleaning the Caravan →

To Travel with FULL or EMPTY Water Tanks?

Some people like to travel with full caravan water tanks, while others prefer to travel with them empty. Here are a few considerations for each scenario, but you will have to figure out which is the best situation for you.

Get the full run-down of the pros and cons of towing with full water tanks.

FULL Water TanksEMPTY Water Tanks
• Always prepared for the next camp
• Water available in case of break down
• Handy if you spontaneously find a great camp
• Uses more fuel (heavier)
• Always searching for water before each camp
• Don’t need it for caravan parks
• No water in case of emergency
• Unable to use taps or toilet while travelling
• Uses less fuel (lighter)

Hot Water System Anode

Checking the Caravan Hot Water System Anode Rod

Speaking of water, the next on our list of caravanning tips for beginners is a super important one.

A lot of people don’t realise when first getting into caravanning, that some hot water systems have an anode that you need to change every 12 months or so. It’s not overly difficult, although it can be a bit tedious.

What is an Anode?

An ‘anode’ is a magnesium rod that sits inside the hot water system and purposely corrodes instead of your hot water tank corroding. The Suburban Hot Water System is the most commonly used in Australian vans, which requires the Anode to be replaced.

How often should the Anode be checked?

The experts suggest checking your Anode Rod every six months. To be honest, even if you’re using your caravan regularly, you’re not going to need to change the rod every six months, but it doesn’t hurt to check. They say that once the rod is 50% corroded, swap it out for a new one.

How to Change the Caravan’s Hot Water System Anode Rod →

Re-greasing the Wheel Bearings

It’s extremely important to stay on top of your caravan wheel bearings and re-grease them every 10,000 km or 12 months (whichever comes first). It’s ideal to always have a new set on hand because if you find that they’re pitted or worn, you’ll need to replace them.

Here’s a great step-by-step article on how to re-grease your caravan’s wheel bearings.

If you’re not sure on how to do this job yourself, you’ll have to book the van in for a service to get it done professionally. It’s not a job you want to stuff up!

Caravan Maintenance & Service Log

Caravan Maintenance & Service Log

Log and track all of your caravan maintenance and servicing requirements.

  • 7-page Planner (digital & printable)
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Invest in a Good Solar Set-up

Gumma Reserve, Macksville NSW
Off-grid camping at Gumma Reserve, Macksville NSW

This is one of those essential caravanning tips for longer-term travellers and for those who want to have many options.

Our solar set-up cost around $7,500 fitted professionally and I reckon it well and truly paid for itself within the first six months on the road.

We never needed to stop into a caravan park to ‘top up the batteries.’ Our choice of camps was limitless (free, low cost, bush, stations & farms, unpowered, side of the road…).

Having a great, unlimited and free supply of power (as long as we didn’t get a week’s worth of rain) really freed up our budget for other things and meant we could travel further before having to stop for work.

If you’re interested in making money on the road while travelling, check out this post with over 15 ideas!


Turn off Gas Hot Water

The next in our line-up of caravanning tips for beginners is all about saving on gas.

You’ll quickly realise that if you leave your gas hot water switched on permanently, you’ll forever be hearing that whooshing flame noise as the hot water is constantly being heated. Not only does the noise get a bit annoying after a while, but you’ll be wasting a lot of gas in the process.

SmartSense Gas Bottle Level Monitor
Wireless Gas Bottle Monitor →

So, what can you do to still take advantage of hot water while caravanning off-grid? Switch the hot water back on about 10 minutes before shower time. That will give the tank enough time to heat up for you. If you’re needing to do some dishes, heat up a few cups of water in the kettle – it’s much quicker and uses less gas!

Remember, when you’re plugged into power, your van will be heating the water using 240v, not gas. So, this caravanning tip only applies for when you’re camping off-grid.

40 Off-grid Camping Hacks →

Phone Coverage

If you think you’re going to any kind of phone coverage with anyone but Telstra while travelling Australia… I’m here to tell you that you’re dreaming!

I know many people claim that Optus is good in some areas and various other providers work in different areas, but unfortunately they just don’t cut the mustard.

We had one phone with Telstra and another phone with Aldi (which runs off Telstra towers). As we travelled west from the Queensland coast, the Aldi phone lost service around Longreach. We went further into the Outback, then headed back towards the coast across the top and the Aldi service didn’t kick back in until the Atherton Tablelands.

Satellite Phone
Satellite Phone (eBay) →

Once you get into the Outback, even with Telstra, you’ll only have coverage in the towns, not in between. So, getting yourself a Satellite phone might be worth considering if you’ll be off the beaten track for long periods of time.

Oh and don’t get too excited when caravan parks offer ‘Free WiFi.’ Unless you want to sit on top of the reception desk and wait 10 minutes for the dial-up to load a page, I wouldn’t even bother.


Offline Maps

Following on from the last point…

Australia is one vast continent and you certainly don’t want to rely on data service or phone reception to keep your maps going. You simply won’t be able to once you leave the towns and cities.

If you’re using WikiCamps, you’ll be able to download offline maps when you’ve got service.

The same goes for Google Maps. When you’re in a map and have service, you’ll have the option to download it for offline use.

There are also extra map services, such as Hema Maps and TomTom Maps, which you can purchase for permanent offline use.

It’s also wise to have some good old paper maps on hand. If all else fails, you won’t be stranded in the middle of nowhere without direction if you’ve got a hard copy map with you.

HEMA Outback Queensland Map
HEMA Cairns to Broome Map
HEMA Australia Map
Australian HEMA Maps →
Travel Apps Planner

Travel Apps Planner

The Planner will take you through over 70 of the most commonly used Australian travel apps.

  • 31 pages
  • 70+ Aussie Travel Apps (13 categories)
  • Select your own Apps
  • Notes sections to help you plan
  • Tick off your choices as you download them
  • DIGITAL & PRINTABLE

WikiCamps

Speaking of WikiCamps – you must download it before you hit the road. This should actually be right up the top as number one in our caravanning tips.

The App will cost you about $7.99 outright, but you’ll have access to so much information that you’ll be using daily.

WikiCamps Features:

  • Maps
  • Campgrounds (with features, facilities, pricing & reviews)
  • Caravan Parks (with features, facilities, pricing & reviews)
  • Photos to help you see if it’s suitable for your van
  • Dump Points
  • Potable Water Taps
  • Visitor Information Centre
  • Points of Interest
  • Trip Planner

WikiCamps will be your absolute bible while caravanning and camping in Australia

Full Guide on Using WikiCamps →

HEMA ‘Where to Camp Guide’

For a hardcopy book loaded up with camps and information, consider getting the HEMA ‘Where to Camp Guide.’

Here’s what’s included:

  • Over 5,500 sites across 75 regions
  • Site information and facilities
  • 180 pages of maps with site locations
  • Over 1,000 free and budget sites
  • Free dump points
  • Camping and travel tips
HEMA Where to Camp Guide
HEMA Where to Camp Guide →

Allocate Jobs

The next in our caravanning tips for beginners is all about allocating out the travel and household jobs.

There are a variety of tasks that are involved with caravanning. Between reversing, hitching and unhitching, packing down, emptying the toilet and filling up the tanks, there are quite a few things to be done to keep your travels rolling like clockwork.

To give you an idea, here is how the task allocation looked in our van…

EMMA’S JOBS:
• Empty toilet cassette
• Lock in all doors, drawers & cupboards inside van
• Pack away all ‘missiles’ inside van
• Put bunk ladder on bottom bunk
• Make the bed
• Close all roof hatches
• Close windows & open blinds
• Wind down TV aerial
• Wash, dry & pack away dishes
• Stow kettle in the sink
• Slide entry step away
• Prepare snacks, drinks, lunches etc.
PARTNER’S JOBS:
• Drives & tows
• Navigates
• Pulls awning in & out
• Stabilises van
• Sets up BBQ & BBQARM
• Un/hitches van
• Packs tunnel boot
• Sorts out utilities (water hoses, gas, power etc.)
• Gets outdoor matting & kids toys out
• Gets kayak on/ off car roof
• Puts bikes on/ off bike rack
SHARED JOBS:
• Levelling caravan
• Locking outdoor cupboards & fold-down table
• Filling water tanks
• Setting up outdoor furniture
• Laying outdoor matting
KIDS JOBS:
• Outdoor matting (laying it out & packing it up)
• Outdoor furniture
• Getting their beds and bunks travel-ready
• Putting bunk ladder away
• Getting their water & snacks for the car
• Drying up the dishes
• Putting stabilisers down

The point is, play to your strengths to keep the show running smoothly!


People are Going to Watch

Humans are curious creatures and let’s be honest, they like to watch (and judge). As you pull into a camp you will feel yourself being observed every step of the way. As you’re circling, looking for the sweet spot, as you’re reversing in and even as you’re pulling down the stabilisers and setting up the outdoor furniture.

Our best advice is to practice maneuvering and reversing your van at home (or wherever you’re comfortable) before hitting the road to increase your confidence.

Even the most experienced caravanners have bad days where they just can’t get the van level or straight.

It often comes down to your mood, if it’s been a stressful travel day, whether it’s pissing down with rain or blowing a gale and what the conditions of the campground are.

Calliope River Rest Area, River Ranch QLD
Even the kids like to sticky-beak

I clearly remember trying to set up camp in the Croydon Showgrounds and we just could not get it right for some reason. Not only were we snapping at each other, but the neighbours literally dragged out their camp chairs to gawk. I may or may not have said in a rather loud voice, “why don’t you take a picture, it’ll last longer!”

Anyways, my point is that people will watch, so you might as well get used to it. Hopefully, you can find the humour in the moment to laugh about it… but that won’t always be the case. Forgive yourselves and each other, then move on with your day.


Don’t Chat While Packing Up

People have good intentions, but we’ve learned the hard way that chatting while packing up as you’re about the hit the road is a big no-no.

Take the below photo as an example. A family member was talking to us as the awning was being put away before travel and even ‘helped’ by locking in the other end for us.

Fast forward to a few hours later. Here we are, cruising down the highway when a car catches up alongside us and gives us a really wide berth. We thought it was weird and looked over to see the driver pointing furiously at our caravan.

A quick glance in the passenger mirror clearly showed that the awning had popped out and was flapping around. Time to pull over!

As it turns out, that person hadn’t actually locked the arm in properly and due to distractions, we forgot to go around and do the regular checks, which is where the discrepancy would usually have been picked up.

Loose awning
Taped up the awning arm until we made it to camp

Let me tell you, trying to reach up and secure the arm back in place (with tape), while it’s blowing a gale on the side of the highway isn’t fun!

One of the most important caravanning tips (for beginners and experts alike!) is to politely decline distractions and chit-chat while packing down your caravan for travel day.

We were lucky it was only one awning arm that came undone and that we caught it in time. I’d hate to think of the outcome if you didn’t hitch up properly because you were simply distracted at the time.

Awning Accessories:



Laundry While Caravanning

All is right in my world when there are clean clothes hanging on the line, because I never really know when I’ll next get the opportunity to do a load of washing.

There are a range of ways you can keep on top of the washing while travelling. Here are the main methods people use while caravanning.

Onboard Washing Machine

If you’re lucky enough to have a built-in washing machine in your caravan, then I’d be using this option for sure! It’s by far the most convenient method, provided you’ve got enough water supply.

We were able to run our washing machine through the 350 watt inverter only using 22L of water. The trick is to skip the extra two ‘rinse’ cycles when you’re free camping and need to be conservative.


Portable Washing Machine

Portable washing machines can be a great option if you don’t have one onboard your caravan.

The downside is that they only take a small amount of clothing, so you can find yourself having full ‘wash days’ just trying to keep on top of it all. Plus, you’ll need to find somewhere to store the washing machine when you’re not using it.

Caravan Washing Machine
Portable Washing Machine (eBay) →

But, portable washing machines will save you having to pay for loads of washing at a Laundromat, so they may be worth thinking about.

Don’t forget, you’ll need plenty of water to run one, plus a 240 volt power supply. So, they’re really only useful for when you’re staying in caravan parks.


Laundromats & Caravan Parks

If you don’t want to have to worry about carting around a washing machine or stressing about the water consumption, then using the machines in Caravan Parks and local Laundromats are the way to go.

You’ll need to keep a stash of $1 coins handy at all times for ‘washing days.’

Also remember that if you’re using Laundromats, you’ll have to stick around and wait for the load/s to finish. If you’re using the Caravan Park machines, set a timer for when the load will be done. Other patrons do not look too kindly on those who hog the machines!

Washing Bucket

Bucket & Lid

One of the simplest methods for washing clothes while caravanning is the old ‘bucket & lid’ trick.

You throw some water, a bit of detergent and your clothes into the bucket, put on a secure lid and agitate. If you want, you can even throw the bucket in the back of the car and let the vehicle’s movement do the agitating while you’re travelling to your next destination.

The downside to the bucket method is that it can become quite laborious if you’re agitating the bucket yourself by rolling it back and forth on the ground.

You’ll quickly begin to sympathise with women back in the earlier days who had to hand-wring the water out of each item.


Scrubba Wash Bag

The Scrubba Wash Bag has become such a popular invention in the caravanning world.

These guys are really only good for small loads, but they roll away to nothing and only take a tiny amount of water, especially compared with buckets and machines.

Scrubba Wash Bag
Scrubba Wash Bag →

Inside the bag is a ‘washboard’ for easy agitation of your clothing.

A great perk is that these wash bags can be used in addition to a washing machine as an easy ‘hand washing’ option between full loads.

15 Caravan Washing Machine Options →

Caravan Washing Lines

Awning Clothes line
Permanent Awning Clothesline

We started out with one of those camping clotheslines (like a mini Hills Hoist) but found it way too bulky to store. Here are a few other caravan washing lines that we’ve used and loved while caravanning.

Awning Clothesline

My favourite and most compact washing line solution is the permanent line attached to the awning. It’s super easy to install yourself with less than $20 worth of supplies from Bunnings.

Check out the guide I’ve put together with step-by-step instructions on installing your own awning washing line.


Washing Bang Bang Rest Area
Rope & springs washing line at Bang Bang Rest Area, QLD

Rope & Springs

In addition to the awning clothesline, we used a length of rope with springs on each end. That way we could easily string up extra line space between the awning and the back of the van, from the awning to the car or between trees.


Pegless Clothesline

The Slide ‘n’ Dry Pegless Clothesline is a handy little fold-up item that is great to have on your caravanning or camping list.

It’s made from UV protected plastic, which means it won’t go brittle or fade. This little guy is designed to hold wet jeans, towels and other wet and heavy items.

The 12 slides click together, so you can make it to any length you need, no pegs required.

  • 12 slides – 24 slide points
  • 2 bungee cords (holds up to 40kg)
  • Recyclable plastic
  • Zip-lock storage bag
  • 2 metres long
Pegless Clothesline
Pegless Clothesline

Pegless Clothesline →


Smalls Hanger

The other great addition to your clothesline repertoire is a little airer for your socks and undies. These guys are great as you can move them around and chase the sun or even hang it inside the van if need be.

Stainless Smalls Hanger Clothes Airer
Stainless Clothes Airer →
12 Caravan Clothesline Ideas →

Clothing & Linen

Firstly, pack dark coloured clothing, sheets and towels, especially with kids. The fabric will inevitably end up with marks and stains, so you might as well disguise them!

Secondly, pack items that will dry a bit faster. A pair of jeans or denim shorts are good for getting multiple wears, but you don’t want to have a wardrobe full of thick fabrics that just never dry in time.

Tesalate towels are great for drying quickly or even a few microfibre towels off eBay will do the trick.

Thirdly, pack light. A week’s worth of clothing will be enough, which allows for washing to get done in between. Plus, a warm jacket, beanie and gloves, swimmers, hat, some hiking shoes and a pair of thongs.

Download our full PACKING CHECKLIST below to make sure you’re always on top of your ‘stuff!’

Caravan Packing List

Caravan Packing List

Never forget a thing with the ULTIMATE Caravan Packing List!

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  • Download once, use it over-and-over

Spare Fridge/ Freezer

I cannot recommend enough this next item on our list of caravanning tips for beginners. Invest in a spare fridge/ freezer (ebay) for the back of your car.

Your biggest decision is deciding whether you want to set it at ‘fridge’ temperature or ‘freezer’ temperature. We chose to use ours as a freezer.

There are so many bonuses with having one!

Spare FRIDGE BenefitsSpare FREEZER Benefits
• Store lunch in the car for travel days & outings
• Keep it as the ‘drinks’ fridge to free up space in the caravan fridge
• Extra food storage
• Freeze up extra meals
• Store leftovers
• Stock up on quality meat at lower prices from butchers
• Stock up on food from the big supermarkets
• Saves money
• Less temptation to eat out

To Plan or Not to Plan?

Having a rigid travel plan while caravanning sounds like a positive, super organised thing to do. But… it’s not always the best way to go.

Sometimes you pull into a camp, intending on spending a week there, but wanting to leave after 24 hours. It’s no different with planning to spend a night or two at another location, only to find yourself still there a week later!

We would plan our general route as well as the next camp, but we’d always have a few back-up camp locations in mind as well. It’s quite common to see a great looking Free Camp on WikiCamps, only to arrive and not get a good feel for the place or find that it’s full or not suitable.

Collarenebri Free Camping NSW

When it comes to booking caravan parks in advance, it is wise to do so if you know school holidays are coming up or you know for sure that you’ll be in a certain place at a certain time.

As for planning out your navigational route, this is a must unless you fancy finding yourself heading down a mountainous logging trail by accident… yep, we’ve actually been there! Or you could easily end up winding your way through tight city roads, not designed with caravanners in mind.

So, our best advice is to plan camps and time frames loosely, while remaining attentive to the travel details, such as road/ weather conditions, school holidays and so on.


Take Other People’s Directions with a Pinch of Salt

There was this one time, when we were in Normanton in the Gulf of Queensland and we were keen as beans to spot some crocodiles.

As advised by the guy at the local Visitor Information Centre, we hung out on the town bridge every afternoon to see if we could glimpse one swimming by in the river below. Apparently that was the best (and safest) place to see them.

We failed though and didn’t see a single croc.

Crocodile Warning Sign, Normanton QLD

Alas, we were chatting to another man on the bridge who told us to head up the road to the wetlands where you can drive through and there will often be crocs in there sunbaking.

The next day, as we left town to make our way north, we decided to go and check out these wetlands and find a nice spot to have some lunch while we were at it. I was a bit dubious about taking the van in with us, but Allan didn’t want to unhitch, so in we went.

As we were winding our way around the wetland landscape, we were following a clear track. But it wasn’t long before the track began to narrow. Long story short, we ended up having to really drag the van through and what started out as one track soon became many tracks with no clear direction.

Normanton Wetlands QLD

We were in a place where we clearly shouldn’t have been with a 24 ft van in tow and yep, she got a bit damaged in the process of trying to find our way out. A short 20 minute detour turned into an hour long expedition.

For the next in our list of caravanning tips, my sound advice would be to take other people’s directions with a grain of salt! As it turns out, the wetlands area that we should have been in was just up the road to the right, which is purpose made for tourists. Where we were was more of a local fire trail.

We never did see any crocs, but to say I’m grateful is an understatement!


Avoid Travelling at Dawn, Dusk & Night Time

Many of our unique Australian wildlife species are most active during the dusk and dawn hours of the day. One of the most common ones is the kangaroo, which you’ll see by the hundred alongside the road if you’re travelling during those times.

Kangaroos in particular are very skittish and unpredictable when they’re feeling under threat as a noisy vehicle rumbles towards them. In a split second they have to choose either ‘flight’ or ‘fright’ towards this looming predator with the bright headlights (which are blinding to them).

Between Jericho & Barcaldine QLD
Travelling between Jericho & Barcaldine, QLD

Amongst all of the caravanning tips for beginners, this one revolves around safety for yourself, your set-up and our fellow Aussie creatures.

When driving during the dusky and dark hours, you risk hitting an animal, which will not only injure or kill them, but could result in a high-speed accident involving yourself, your family and others on the road.

It’s just not worth it if you can at all avoid it.


Travel with the Seasons

Mann River Campground, Old Grafton Rd, NSW (after bushfires 2019)
Mann River Campground after bush fires & water bombing, Old Grafton Road NSW

You’ll notice in mid-winter in Queensland, the country roads and free camps are teaming with Victorians. It’s actually an annual retiree migration, which we didn’t even know about until we’d hit the road.

But there is a method behind the madness. Every region on the map of Australia has a ‘best time to visit.’

For instance, you don’t want to be stuck across the Top End in the middle of the Wet Season (Nov – Apr). And visiting the Red Centre during the extremely hot and cold months is not a good idea. You’re better off heading out that way in Spring (Sept – Nov) or Autumn (Mar – May).

Tasmania is bitterly cold in winter, making it more popular to visit from September to March.

The point is, researching ahead of time the best season to travel through each area as you are planning is super important. Travelling through certain regions in the wrong season can actually be very dangerous with extreme weather and temperature conditions at play.

Do your research before you arrive.


Get a UHF Radio

The best way to be able to communicate with others on the road, particularly truckies, is with a UHF Radio. This is a ‘must’ in our caravanning tips for beginners list as I wouldn’t travel without one.

Sometimes you need to get off the road if there’s a Road Train or Oversized Load coming. Or, there might be an issue with your van that you’re not aware of, but the person behind you can let you know over the UHF.

UHF Radio
UHF Radio (eBay) →

It’s also super handy to have a Handheld UHF as well for when you’re reversing into caravan parks. The passenger can be round the back of the van communicating, while the driver is maneuvering and listening inside the car. We call them ‘marriage savers!’

Handheld UHF
Handheld UHF (eBay) →
UHF Channels & Benefits for Travelling →

Keep an Eye on the Budget

Okay, so I know not everyone likes to budget and actually enjoys making spreadsheets like me. But, it’s still important to know what your budget is for your trip and at the very least have a loose allocation of funds per week.

Obviously week-by-week budgets are going to vary depending on the types of paid experiences you’re planning, how quickly you’ll be travelling and what your time frame is, among other variables.

You can have a read of our 12 month travel costs below to give you an idea of what one example looks like. But bear in mind that no two travel budgets will be the same. You really don’t know exactly what yours will look like until you get going and slip into your own travel style.

12 Month Travel Budget Example →

The best advice I can give is to download our Big Lap Budget Spreadsheet and play around with the figures. That will give you a good base budget to hit the road with, plus don’t forget to allow extra for those unplanned events that inevitably happen.

BIG LAP Budget Spreadsheet

BIG LAP Budget Spreadsheet

Easily calculate how much money you’ll need to get set up for travel, plus fund your trip.

  • Plan your travel budget
  • Plan your set-up costs
  • 7 Calculators
  • Summary & pie chart overviews

Is it a Lifestyle or a Holiday?

The next item on our caravanning tips for beginners list is one that long-term travellers know well.

For the first few weeks of a lengthy trip, you can’t escape that blissful, holiday feeling. Bakery stops for lunch and Happy Hour drinks every arvo around the campfire. Life is good!

But before you know it, you’re spending way too much of the budget on booze, exercising less and doing every fancy attraction in every town you pass through.

It doesn’t take long for all of these extravagances to hit the waist and the hip pockets. It’s really important to view your trip (if it’s longer than a few weeks) as a ‘lifestyle,’ rather than a ‘holiday.’ Trust me, that mindset will have you making wiser and healthier decisions for the long term.

So, is your trip going to be an RV lifestyle or a holiday?

Protect your Caravan from Theft (13 Tips) →

You Can’t See Everything, So Quit Trying

The best of the caravanning tips for beginners that we ever received was that you can’t possibly see everything, so why stress yourself with trying to?

Australia is huge. People have been zig-zagging across it for for decades and still haven’t seen it all, so it’s crazy to think that you can do it all in one trip.

Create a bucket list of your family’s ‘must see’ items in each town that you’ll be stopping in and just focus on ticking those off.


Slow Down

If time permits, a good caravanning tip is to simply slow down. Our travel style was definitely not about whizzing through each town and doing the top two touristy things in 24 hours, then moving on to the next place.

As time was irrelevant for us, we usually arrived at a camp or town with a flexible time frame in mind based on our research. But, we also liked to go to the Information Centres and ask locals about what they recommended we do while in the area.

We figured that we may never be in that neck of the woods again, so why not make sure we’d experienced everything that we fancied while we were there.

After all, life is all about the journey, not the destination.


Plan for Down Days

Let’s be honest, all of those social media influencers make travel look like it’s the most relaxing thing in the world. Sorry to burst the bubble, but it’s not.

Caravanning is exhausting, especially if you’re travelling for any significant length of time.

In between sight-seeing you’ve still got to get the groceries and cleaning done, top up the water tanks, empty the toilet, map out the next leg of the trip, find the next camp (and hope it’s suitable), set up camp, pack up camp, with lots of driving in between. It’s exhausting!

For your sanity and the sanity of the whole tribe, you will need plenty of down days to allow everyone to recharge for the next stint.


Expectations vs. Reality

Magnetic Island, Townsville QLD
Magnetic Island, Townsville QLD

The last in our run down of caravanning tips for beginners is to try and not peg your expectations of a destination based on the opinion of others.

When we got to Townsville everybody said that we must go to Magnetic Island, it’s just amazing. Looking at the pricing of taking the car over on the ferry for the day to fully explore the island was going to be over $200. We really weren’t sure if it was going to be worth it.

We decided to bite the bullet and go because we felt we couldn’t leave Townsville without ticking it off the list. Well, to say we were disappointed is an understatement! We’d done the whole island by morning tea (we did arrive at 7.30am) and felt that we’d wasted our money.

The point here is that your experience of a place is dependent on so many things – budget, weather, company, personal experience and even the mood you’re in on that day.

Go with your gut feeling, what interests you and what you want to tick off your bucket list. But, try not to be too disappointed if someone else’s epic adventure was nothing but a crappy day for you (and vice versa).


I hope this collection of caravan tips and tricks will help to give you confidence on the road for your own caravanning adventures!

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22 thoughts on “🚙 27 Caravanning Tips for Beginners!”

  1. Congratulations on living the dream and thanks for sharing. I love slow travel as it makes you enjoy the place you are visiting and of course, there is time to relax in between. How many days are you planning to spend on each state?

  2. I chuckled at your being ‘over prepared’ – I think I would be exactly the same if I tried this out! Very interesting tips. I like the additional wisdom added to them based on your experience. Wishing you great travels ahead!

  3. I love your post and your learned life lessons are spot on and exactly what I have found. One thing that is important for me “going slow” is good and makes you enjoy the moment and the destination, but being curious and setting goals is what keeps me going.

  4. I am an avid traveller and wish to live in an RV for a year. I had no idea about the wikicamps, thank you for the suggestion. Living off on $35 a week with kids sounds so unreal. Kudos to you and family.

  5. Wow! So different indeed! And much to adjust to. I have not done a road trip like this and not sure if I ever will. Reading your blog has certainly given me points to be aware of and to consider should I ever embark along this road.

  6. This is so cool. This is my first time to read a blog about the nomadic lifestyle transition. I loved reading the improvements and discoveries that you made. Looking forward to the next transition year blog post!

  7. Hey,

    Only carry a little water between van parks and work out where to fill tanks once you get into an area.

    Here is a big one for you because you’re heading north. Get a dual water filter system, you will not be sorry and will help that hot water system and pump.

    Dave

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