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How to prepare and save power when travelling

Updated on September 13, 2013

Solar panels

Conserve your power when Travelling

Whether you are going on holiday in a tent, camper van or a tent you will need to conserve your power.  It is part of being a human I suppose but we all tend to walk into a room and turn the light on then walk out and leave it on.

I could blame the kids, but I think we are all guilty of this at one time or another.  Although when on holidays, if you do not have a good power supply this can end up being disastrous.

Expensive does not mean prepared

Time and time again we have seen people leaving their inside lights on and sitting outside with the outside one on as well. In the morning, someone goes to start the car and guess what….Now please shut your ears as a few choice words go back and forth while the occupants play the blame game. Whose fault was it?

People spend hundreds of dollars on the tug, or tow vehicle. Then they spend thousands more on a caravan. That is where the judgment stops. Because they are the best and the latest it should work, no matter what, seems to be their logic.

They could not be more wrong! I hope to explain this more as we go. First we need to do some preparation.

Preparing for trip

Doing this is very important

  • Have your vehicle serviced and make sure your vehicle and caravan brakes are working properly.
  • Check your batteries, and always carry jumper leads
  • If you can afford it pack an extra battery for lights or the bushman fridge.
  • Check the torch batteries are fully charged and carry a charger.
  • Pack a couple of candles but never leave burning in a caravan or tent when unattended, blow it out before leaving.
  • Do not overload any vehicle or your will not be insured.
  • Take a first aid kit, you never know when it will be needed

Important things to do when you stop, if you have fridge running in your caravan

  • Disconnect the trailer plug before you have a beer, or your battery will be flat in the morning.
  • Light the gas for your fridge to keep the beer cold.
  • Before you leave your camp site, make sure you turn the gas off at the gas bottles.
  • Never travel with fridge lit on gas. Yes people do that, and if you have ever seen a caravan blow up then I would advise you not to do it. It is deadly, no second chances, as they burn in seconds. I know I have seen it happen.
  • Always walk around the van and make sure everything is shut, windows locked and if in a caravan park, disconnect the power cord and water hose. I would love a dollar for every time I have seen people drive off with these still connected.

Types of power source

If you are staying on power in a caravan park then you will not have a problem unless the power fails. Pack that torch just in case.

If you want to go free camping on your travels (great fun) because you meet more people, as you are more relaxed you will find others much more sociable.

If this is your choice then you need to choose to pack a generator or go solar. Solar power is brilliant. Generators (in my opinion they are a pain in the b..t. Which you have is your choice.

Actually we have both and have only used the generator to solder wires back together when they broke on our fridge.

Advantages of Generators

These are terrific if you want to use your TV, laptop. If you want it to run your microwave you would need to have at least a 1.5kva as they chew up the power. Smaller ones would not run a microwave, although you could have a low microwave that could work.

Disadvantages of Generators

They are very noisy especially if a light sleeper; many times we have parked miles away from everyone and then someone parks right next to us and starts up a genny. And I can’t sleep with the noise. We don’t mind if they put them on to cook tea but leaving it going till midnight or sometimes later is so wrong.

The fumes are bad. Many people do not realise this and they open their window with the genny running under it. That works similar to putting an exhaust into the caravan.

Always sit the genny well away from van so no fumes can enter. And never put it near anyone else’s van either.

Advantages of SOLAR power

Silence is golden. The sun charges up your batteries while you are driving or parked in the sun. They will still charge on overcast days.

You will need a spare battery in your van for the solar to charge and run your power.

No more lifting out the genny nor fuelling it up and no more fumes. How good is that?

Solar garden lights

These are brilliant to use outside at night and do not attract the mosquitos and moths as much as normal lights. To recharge leave in sunny spot in car while travelling or stand in sun when you stop.

Disadvantages of SOLAR power

Cooking with the microwave is not an option unless you have an inverter, but it will still need a big solar panel.

You cannot run the air con either.


Use fester globes in your caravan as they do not use as much power.

LED lighting is the best, although much more expensive.

An example from experience

We have camped out for three weeks in our destiny off road pop top caravan. It has an 80w solar panel on the roof and runs all our lighting, TV and computer.

Our tug or 4x4 Nissan has a battery which runs the vehicle, plus a spare battery under the bonnet that is recharged from an 80w solar panel on roof of vehicle, and a battery in the back (charged from the solar) which runs our freezer.

We have an inverter in the vehicle, which charges up our mobile phone, the laptop, camera batteries, torch batteries, all this while travelling or when needed in short bursts. Never run any batteries flat.

With the Jumper leads, we can always start our car by using leads from one of the other batteries. So we are pretty independent. Things do go wrong sometimes, like cars hogging the centre of the road. This happened to us so we had to go off and we broke a spring on the caravan.

As the caravan is a dual axle, we didn’t need to do anything until 4000 k’s later when we got home. It just held in place.

All in all we have had a good time travelling; preparation is the key to any successful travelling trip.

Be courtious and considerate to others on the road.


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    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      5 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      thanks Jatinder, Hope this helps you to prepare for your trips whenever you decide to take to the road traveling.

    • Jatinder Joshi profile image

      Jatinder Joshi 

      5 years ago from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

      A very interesting article on how to save/ conserve your power sources while travelling.

      Very informative. Thank you for sharing.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Ethel, thanks yes hope to go away again soon too. No good sitting here procrastinating all the time eh.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      As you have travelled so much you have a wealth of information to share.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Support med, you are so right like I just said in comment above we do it with just a days notice. Decide on the spot to do something and off we go. Its great fun

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Beats me, No way, we just have the van packed ready and just add the food. That way we just load food and take off. We did a trip last week for seven days around our wheatbelt areas. And this week we did another 3 day trip. So what Iam saying once you are organised you can take off at any time and go wherever you want.

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      Eileen, although I don't do this kind of travelling, your article is very well written and educational. I know there are many people who take the road like this and will find your article very informative. Good one.

    • BeatsMe profile image


      8 years ago

      Your list above are the very reason many people don't enjoy camping. :) Some do, though. I wonder why. But the trouble and the preparation just to go for a vacation outweighs the fun, I guess. :)

      Nice tips.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Duchess, yes we love taking off and camping in the bush much more fun with the camp oven and camp fire.

      Thanks for reading

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      8 years ago

      I always enjoyed the camping trips we took when the kids were small - I mean real camping. No TV, No phones, No computers, No microwaves. I did always wish we had the air conditioner though.

      What you are describing sounds like a very well prepared vacation. Good intel on the solar panels.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      jannyc, Yes its home from home these days no mor roughing it. thanks for stopping by

      Lctodd1947, Its good fun linda you should try it so relaxing out in the bush.

    • lctodd1947 profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      This is sound information for those who camp and travel a lot. We don't but I have some family who does. Thanks for sharing some of your experiences. Linda

    • JannyC profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow Camping has gotten all high tech. This was very informative.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      valeriebelew, Dont think about it and leave it too late get started on your travels now you will not be dissappointed. We should have done our trip 10 years ago and still be travelling now

    • valeriebelew profile image


      8 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      This hub made me want to take to the road and see some sights. It has been years since I've had an adventurous travel experience. Also, sound advice about power while traveling. I prefer solar because it is environmentally friendly, and saves energy, but have never had the pleasure of owning either.


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