2. Road Trip Around Australia: 2. Packing the Camper Van
You can sit on a suitcase to shut it, you can't sit on a van
The same basic rule applies to packing the van as it does when preparing to take a yacht on a sea voyage:
A place for everything and everything in its place
The problem for us is to figure out how we can find a "place for everything". The formula we have to work with is something like this:
'Two big people plus lots of clothes plus special toys plus changeable spring weather multiplied by at least six weeks on the road divided by one small transit van'
Neither Sheila nor I are, at this early stage of the trip, prepared to compromise when it comes to what we each take. She has what I regard as way too many clothes which she insists she'll need because:
a. The weather is changeable and she needs to be prepared.
b. She is a 'lady' and therefore needs to have 'options'
c. Try to stop her!
I admit to being a hypocrite and am taking more clothing than I will need too, plus musical instruments, a laptop, and other 'bits and pieces' that only a bloke could need. We also have quite a few books and then there is all the equipment, which I have convinced her is essential. Despite the apparent impossibility of the task ahead of us, we are determined to succeed.
Our van has been serviced and the daunting task of packing for the long road trip is our next task. Every available nook and cranny in the Toyota will be crammed with essential kit including clothing, duvets (called doonas in Australia), pillows, pots, pans, cutlery and kitchen utensils. We hit the local K-mart, which sells just about everything you could ever want at very cheap prices, to stock up with the essentials, including an Italian coffee pot, a boogie board, a pair of paraffin hurricane lanterns, a tomahawk for chopping firewood and, like kids in a candy shop, lots of other camping knickknacks such as spare rope, tent pegs, guy ropes, a broom, a bucket, a spare water container, insect repellent (the ubiquitous Aerogard) and a few packs of large citronella incense sticks to fend of mozzies, an actual mosquito net and some yards of spare netting. We even buy a small electric fan for the expected hot weather to come.
After K-mart we hit a large camping shop in the appropriately named inner city suburb of Camperdown. Our purchases here include a folding table and a pair of camp chairs; a couple of large, sturdy tarpaulines and three tent poles. My plan is to erect a large awning off the side of the van so we can sit in sheltered comfort, whatever the weather.
Everything has to find a home within the tight confines of the little van. As well as all the aforementioned stuff we have a spare petrol can, a set of tools and a first aid kit. Then there are our toys and our books (lots of novels, a and a Lonely PlanetRough Guide). Our laptop is secreted under a seat and my precious guitar gets pride of place on the back seat, cushioned amongst the blankets, pillows and towels. For travel tunes, essential on any road trip we are using an Apple maciPod with an iTrip transmitter so we can play our entire music collection through the van's FM radio (saving space on CDs). Last minute things include topping up the freshwater tank and loading our food into the cupboards and fridge.
Somehow I manage to get everything loaded in the small space. Possibly this is a great skill that I possess because not only is the van packed, but everything (mostly) is accessible in the order that we may need it when on the road. Everything has a designated place but the trick will be to ensure that everything returns to said place after use. I have a horrible suspicion that i am going to spend a lot of time either nagging Sheila to put things away, or wearily doing it myself - time will tell.
Have I any practical hints that the prospective road tripper can take on board and learn from?Yes - don't take so much bloody stuff!
What clothes to take on an Aussie Road Trip
Looking back, we would definitely pack differently next time.
Clothing for one person:
Tough jeans or combat trousers (1pr)
Good trousers or jeans (1pr)
Shorts (combat style with lots of pockets
T-Shirts (2 pr)
Sweatshirt or Hoody
Warm Jacket or Waterproof wind cheater
Trainers or city shoes
Flip Flops (Thongs in Oz)
Hat & Sunglasses
Underwear and socks
Couple of skirts (or dresses or frocks) if you are a girl.
Wetsuit (if you're a surfer or snorkeller)
Resist the temptation to take all your favourite clothes. Stick to tough, durable, lightweight.
A couple of handy hints
Take as little in the way of clothing as you can, you need the storage space for things you may buy or collect on the way, and, the more room you have the more comfortable you will be.
It is worth noting that almost every Australian town has at least one "Op Shop" (Opportunity Shop, also known as Charity Shop or Second Hand Shop). In these establishments you can always find great deals on items such as Jeans, warm jackets and sweatshirts. Also blankets and cookware can be found. The beauty of shopping in Op Shops as you go along is that things are inexpensive and when the weather changes you can always recycle them back to another shop somewhere else and never be out of pocket by too much.
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