Camping in the outback

PLANNING TO HIT THE ROAD FOR THE LONG TERM: FREE CAMPING

If you have thought about leaving it all behind, you should know that you are not the only one. RVing is increasing in popularity across the world and around Australia. Just about anyone who owns an RV has a dream of hitting the road for an extended period of time, if not full-time.

Camping over the longer term or camping full-time is known as “free camping” (and not simply camping for free). In Australia, free campers are more numerous than you might think. Just as with the USA, more retirees are hooking up their trailer and leaving everything, and everyone, behind.

That’s not surprising considering Australia offers no shortage of inspiration to get away and explore.

While your decision to go may have been made up by now, it is still worth putting a little bit of effort into planning out the first year. That’s right, looking at this from a yearly perspective will help you get it right.

CALENDAR PLANNING

Before getting started, the best way to plan is by using a calendar. I suggest using a calendar where you can see the whole year in front of you. While you might not like anything that gets in the way of your great escape, I suggest getting a marker out to note any dates, events or constraints that you may need to meet. Unfortunately, there might be some special occasions you just can’t avoid.

By looking ahead you will be able to work out ways to weave any necessary events into your expedition. For example, you will save a lot of money by booking flights back from a convenient airport on the other side of Australia well in advance. Simple adjustments to a planned touring route offer easy solutions that don’t cost much when you plan ahead.

LOCKING UP YOUR POINT OF RETURN (OR NO RETURN)

Now, if you are planning on coming back, you will have a home to take care of. Whatever the case, it is always best to have a permanent address as a point of contact. If you are only going for a few months to most of a year, you will need to think about who is going to look after your house. An alarm system is a great idea but houses that run like clockwork are still a target. If you are getting away for much longer, then having someone stay in your house, renting or putting it up for sale, are all options worth considering.

Another early planning consideration is what to do with all your mail. The easiest solution is to put it all online and have all your statements sent to you electronically. You can always have your mail forwarded for anything that is left.

PLAN YOUR ROUTE

The best long trips are planned while keeping a balance between structure and flexibility. You will have plenty of time and opportunity to discuss this and get ideas from others you meet on the road. And trust me, you will and they will all have an opinion. And that’s important to know too. As you gather experience, you will probably make more than one change to your plan. Let’s not forget that you haven’t been to many of the places you are going to and there is a good chance that you will really like somewhere and want to stay or even go back to it.

I choose to have a rough idea of dates and destinations. I only book anything in advance if I am travelling in peak seasons or I am expecting to arrive on particular dates, including public holidays or I am planning to head to a particular location. Broome is the perfect example. It’s very hard to get somewhere to hook up to power unless you have booked well in advance over Christmas and around the New Year.

KEEPING CONNECTED

Thankfully, most of the time on the road or where you choose to rest will have network coverage. That doesn’t mean that you will always have coverage. I suggest having another tool to communicate with just in case of an emergency. The easiest solution for most people is a CB/UHF radio.

A decent smartphone and a tablet are much easier to handle and stay in touch with who you want to than a laptop. Look for a tablet that has SIM card capability so that it can go online too. They will both double as cameras for your trip because we all want the photos, right?

Apps like Skype, WhatsApp and Messenger are great for low-to-no-cost conversations. If you don’t have Facebook and Instagram, it’s time to get accounts. You can keep a history (your story) while having somewhere to keep all those photos over a timeline. You don’t have to bother with backing them up or worry about losing them as soon as they are on your account.

KEEPING YOUR VEHICLE STRONG ON THE ROAD

Many of us will be very cautious about getting the right vehicle and making sure it is serviced well before we leave but many people forget their vehicle will need a service at least every 10,000 kilometres. That’s for normal driving. I certainly suggest having your vehicle checked more often. To that end, it’s a good idea to know where you can have this done en route.

That’s my strategy for planning free camping. The best thing about planning is that it’s a lot of fun. Enjoy.

 


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Suzy T
suzyt@dinga.com.au

From camping to fishing, to trekking and touring around Australia for lengthy periods of time, Suzy lives it. She also has a passion for pets. Now she is sharing her experiences.