Sometimes, all it takes is a one-word prompt to get us writing. Today’s Daily Post writing prompt: TEN.

TEN. Ten? Ten what? I wasn’t sure when I read today’s writing prompt. There’s lots I could write about that there is ten of. So I settled on travel, the road trip, mostly because it is only a few weeks since my partner and I returned from one. It just sort-of popped into my head and as it was still quite fresh in my brain I sat down to write about it.

Background and context: We had not long ago returned from a road trip in Tasmania, a state where I used to live. We had family to see and my partner wanted to see more of the island. So Tasmania forms the geographic and climatic context to my suggestions that follow.

It might help make sense of some of my suggestions if I tell you that Tasmania has a cool, maritime, temperate climate that brings rapidly-changable weather. For those who might not know (though surely everyone knows), Tasmania is a large, triangular island separated from the south-east Australian mainland by the 200km width of Bass Strait. The southern coast points out into the Southern Ocean. The east coast fringes the Tasman Sea. The west coast is washed, rather roughly at times, by the Indian Ocean. The middle of the island is an extensive geological uplift forming the Central Plateau. It is edged by mountains.

We have road tripped in Tasmania before. And on mainland Australia in vans. My partner has seen most of the island accessible by motor vehicle other than the north-west sector around the Tarkine. She has seen some accessible by foot, too, on day walks on the coasts and in the mountains. I saw more that is foot-accessible on multi-day bushwalks when I lived here and I know there is still much more for her to explore.

The ten ideas

I’m going to make suggestions for what to pack for vehicle-based road trips spanning several days to a couple months in duration. While my specific reference will be Tasmania, much the same applies to road trips on the Australian mainland. My suggestions presume road trips in a van, in a minivan such as on our last journey, or, for the hardy, in a large-enough station wagon. An ordinary sedan car would do were it equipped with one of those pop-up rooftop tents or if road trippers were happy to erect a tent each night.

On tents, a bushwalking tent (if you plan to bushwalk on overnight walks then you will already be packing one) or a compact car camping tent can be a useful adjunct to your vehicle-based accommodation. Erecting a tent in a popular camping area while you drive your vehicle to the start of a walking track will deter other campers setting up in your camping space in the belief that it is vacant.

Be warned that I write for those who can live for weeks at a time with only the basics, and few of them at that. Acceptance of living in a small space, of cooking and spending time outside irrespective of weather, and those who can put up with a lack of amenities are other starting conditions for my recommendations.

A note

Just a brief note about our last journey. Tasmania is an island and although there is a daily, overnight or daytime vehicle ferry, getting to it from where we live on the east coast entails a 1000km drive each way. That’s why we made an early booking of a hire vehicle to collect at Hobart airport. Booking early meant we got the cheap rate as well.

The vehicle was like a large, higher than usual station wagon known as a minivan, a Kia Carnival. It offered just enough interior space to live in and a fold-down mattress for sleeping on, a kitchenette in the rear of the vehicle accessible through the rear lift-up hatch, a small refrigerator, a small, pop-up table and a luggage pod on the roof rack that we used only for stowing my partner’s empty pack. It offered us a comfortable minimalism in both warm and cold, windy weather. The kitchenette was far larger than we could use or that we would install in a minivan, or a full size van for that matter. The company supplied cooking and eating utensils though we ended up using our own most of the time.

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The minivan showing the pop-up table, my grubby shoes and the large duffel bag I could fit everything other than my camera and lenses in (I prefer to keep them in a daypack). The table dismantles so we could flip down the matress for sleeping on. It is stored behind the table as a seat during the day. Although lower than a full van, the minivan was high and spaceous enough for living in for several weeks. Large, sliding doors on both sides made the vehicle comfortable at campsites.
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Small, sure, but the minivan was large enough for a comfortable night’s sleep and as a lounging space during the day when the mattress folded into a rear seat.

Our few weeks on the road included time with family when we would sleep in the minivan in their driveway, time in informal bush campsites with no amenities and time in formal campgrounds. This we planned to punctuate with daywalks in the bush, so we brought daypacks large enough to accommodate clothing, camera and other bushwalking equipment suitable for walking in the mountains, and that could also serve for use in the city and for shopping for food.

Readers should remember that we all have different needs and that the ideas here on what to pack are only those of my partner and myself. We are somewhat minimalist in our needs on the road. Equipment, where possible, we prefer to be multifunctional. Think carefully about what you want to do on your road trip. Do you want to go mountain biking? Canoeing? Surfing? Photographing? Multi-day bushwalking? Those will require additional equipment and, for some, a means of attaching the equipment to the vehicle.

So, now that I have set the context of what I am to write about, here’s ten ideas stemming from our most recent Tasmanian journey and earlier road trips.

1. TAKE ONLY ESSENTIALS

If you plan to road trip in a van or minivan, and especially if you plan to travel by station wagon or sedan, there is no space for anything other than essentials.

By essentials I mean an absolute minimum of clothing chosen for the expected weather conditions you could encounter, a means of carrying food and cooking and eating it where you camp, sleeping bags, small first aid kit, a minimum of specialised equipment for what you want to indulge in on the road such as bushwalking kit, camera and lenses etc, mobile phone with a map app downloaded and a wash kit to keep you clean.

As on other road trips, my partner carried her stuff in a pack of around 60 litres capacity, a lightweight top-loader made by Australian company, One Planet, a company known for their tough equipment. I thought a zip-open panel-type pack designed for travel would have been more convenient, however she said her top loader worked just fine. She also had a daypack that served as cabin luggage on the flights, for food shopping and daywalks in the bush.

I packed all of my kit in an old, zip-opening duffel bag that I have used for years. Being soft sided I can cram it into tight spaces and the zip opening gives convenient access to the inside. I don’t know its capacity but I would guess it at somewhere around 70-80 litres. There was still room inside even when fully packed. Were I looking for something similar today I would probably go for Patagonia’s 60 or 90 litre duffel bag, most likely the latter on account of its being able to store most of your stuff. It has a U-shaped zipper on the top panel, giving better access than my old bag. It is also made of very tough material. I have used a 40 or so litre panel-opening travel pack at times and found it convenient, its handle, shoulder strap and pack straps making it easy to carry and its panel opening making it easy to live out of. Travel packs like this are appropriate for vehicle-based travel.

I took my LowPro camera bag as a daypack. I have used this for years and the reason I like it is because it has a side-opening, padded camera compartment in the bottom. You need only unsling one strap and the pack swings off your left shoulder where you can easily access your camera in the padded side access compartment. I think it has made its last road trip, though, because the nylon on one of the straps is fraying.

On returning home I took advantage of the considerable discount at an end-of-year sale at a bushwalking store to acquire an Osprey Stratos 34 litre, front-opening day pack. The pack has side compression straps and attachment points which photographers know are useful for attaching camera equipment pouches. It also has a well-ventilated mesh back panel, which Australian bushwalkers know keeps your back cooler and just that little less sweaty on hot summer bushwalks.

The pack is large enough to serve as an overnight travel pack or for several days lightweight travel, without bushwalking equipement of course, and with the bare minimum of clothing. It also serves as cabin luggage on flights. As for my micro-two-thirds format camera, I found on our day walks that slinging it in a small padded bag diagonally across my shoulder provided convenient access in all but rainy weather.

2. SET A VECTOR RATHER THAN A FIRM DESTINATION AND TIMETABLE

We don’t make bookings at serviced campsites and we bush camp in free, informal camping areas. Because of this we can set a vector — a rough direction of travel — rather than a fixed destination necessitating a timetable.

This allows spontaneity. If we like a place we can decide to overnight there if camping is allowed. If we find what looks like an interesting bushwalk we can do it and find some hidden nook to camp in overnight. If we like the look of a town or decide to stop for food or a coffee we are free to linger and camp at a layover or at a formal campsite.

Without bookings there’s the risk of campsites being full. That is only in peak holiday times — January in Tasmania when mainlanders come over — though we have not had difficulty in finding a space in a formal campsite at that time of year. The risk turns out to be a small price for the freedom of loosly-structured travel that allows for whim-of-the-moment deviations.

3. SET TRAVEL TIME TO ACCOMMODATE YOUR INTERESTS

Like photography? Bushwalking? Mountain biking? Canoeing? Botanising? Surfing? Snorkelling? Lounging on the beach? Indulging your interest in history, ecology, geology or geography? Best, then, to plan to accommodate these as you travel.

How do you do this? You might have locations you plan to stop off at for which you have already allocated time, but then there are those you encounter on the way. Start the day early, make breakfast and a strong coffee to stimulate the brain chemistry, and leave early. Doing that builds into your day the ‘spare’ time that permits stopping and doing those things. There is less opportunity for this sort of spontaniety if you have a booking at a campsite or motel that evening.

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Early starts made time available to stop and spend time at places we liked, such as this beach at the Bay of Fires. We were careful not to overplan our road trip. If anything, we severely underplanned it so we could be more spontaneous with places to go and how much time to spend there.

4. COOK WHERE YOU CAMP

Eating at cafes soon adds up to cut into your budget. Cooking where you camp avoids that. Why not take a small cooker, a pot or two, eating utensils and some food and cook where evening finds you? Keep the restaurant or cafe meals as a treat or for when you are so tired after a full day on the road that cooking simply isn’t an option.

So, what’s the minimum you need? That depends on whether it is just you, a solo traveller, whether you travel as a couple, as a family or group of friends. Add utensils and food quantity accordingly.

Here’s the kit we took on our Tasmanian road trip…

Cooking: The minvan was supplied with a small two-burner butane stove and spare cartridges. Were I buying something like this I would go for the single-burner butane cartridge stove because of its compactness, although the two-burner makes it possible to cook with two pots at once, something, perhaps, for the more elaborate meal. I understand there’s about two hours of fuel in the cartridge used by the single-burner type. I would find some way of opening the empty cartridge to release and remaining pressure so it could go into the metals recycling stream.

Double or single burner, refillable LP gas stoves avoid the waste of empty gas cartridges. The Swedish Trangia cooksets that burn methylated spirits (known in some countries as white gas or ethanol) are popular among bushwalkers. Metho burns cooler than LP and butane gas. You will need a spillproof bottle for carrying the metho if taking the Trangia bushwalking. The cooksets come with an adjustable output brass burner, a couple cookpots and a pot lifter; a frypan doubles as a pot lid (other utensils are available).

We brought our bushwalking cooker with us — a compact Jetboil, the burner of which fits into the 800ml pot and that is known for its thermal efficiency. That means you use less fuel for cooking. It is light and compact for overnight bushwalks and even for making a trailside coffee or hot packet soup on daywalks (we find miso soup or a vegetable soup powder warms us up during lunchtime stops). Easiest to make is cowboy coffee. You boil a pot of water then toss the right amount of ground coffee in, and let it boil briefly before turning off the heat and allowing the coffee to infuse. Alternatively, there are coffee bags though I find a single bag a little on the weak side. Might be better to use two. It depends on how strong you like your coffee. Tea is prepared in the same way.

We used the Jetboil on a road trip in Tasmania a year ago when were were travelling in a small car and tenting at night, and found its simplicity of use and compactness a virtue of the device.

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We used our compact Jetboil cooker more than the stove supplied with the minivan. The Jetboil is very efficient and lightweight and small enough to toss in a daypack for a brew-up on a bushwalk.

Utensils: A bowl and a cup each, a knife/fork/spoon each (or a knife and spork), a flat enamel or stainless steel (easy to clean) plate to serve food from, a small bowl for mixing salad/pasta and serving from etc, a small polypropylene cutting board, a longer spoon to stir whatever you are cooking, a small breadknife, a small paring knife suitable for slicing veges and other foods, a small kitchen tongs for lifting food, can and bottle opener and one or two of those collapsible, mesh toasters is all we find we need. The toasters make palatable bread starting to go stale. A jaffle iron would be another useful kitchen tool as you can easily make a nutritionally balanced meal quickly. Add to this a plastic bowl for washing up (and for holding water to wash yourself in camp), a dish brush, small bottle of biodegradable dishwashing liquid and a drying cloth. This is what our travel cook kit has been reduced to following vehicle camping in Tasmania and on the mainland.

Part of this road tripping kitchen kit is made up of our bushwalking cooking kit: a plastic keepit cup for my partner (the cup seals for carrying hot coffee), a collapsible silicon cup for me; a small nylon bowl that comes with a lid that is also a flat plate (useful for slicing vegetables on) for my partner, a titanium bowl for me (lightweight and strong but expensive unless you keep your eye open for sales, which we do); a titanium knife, fork, spoon set for each of us (see note in brackets for titanium bowl). The lightness of titanium you will appreciate when carrying a full pack on overnight walks but only if you have lightweight types of the three heaviest and bulkiest equipment items — sleeping bag, tent, pack — to reduce your overall pack weight and bulk.

The minivan we hired came with cooking and eating utensils, far more than we would ever take. We used the supplied two-burner butane stove at times, however we used our own Jetboil more often. It was more convenient to set up and more efficient.

5. LIGHT

Even when you set up your vehicle to stay at a powered campsite (what Americans call a ‘trailer park’ but Australians call a ‘caravan park’) you might find you still need light inside your vehicle and for cooking outside.

I always pack a small Fenix light as well as a Black Diamond headlamp. The Fenix runs off a single AAA battery, the Black Diamond three of them. Both put out up to 150 lumens of light intensity, however you will find a low setting more useable around camp. The full power is more useful for track walking at night. Turn the headlamp a little towards the ground unless you want dazzle your partner when you look at her. The advantage of the headlamp, which is part of our bushwalking kit, is that it leaves your hands free and illuminates wherever you look.

For illumination inside the vehicle or around your table and folding chairs where you cook, a battery pack and couple small, LED lights are very useful. Goal Zero and Biolite are established brands. We have a Biolite lamp that is compact, offers two light output settings (110 lumens at full power), comes with a USB plug so you can recharge your mobile phone from it. Two small lights with enough cable to hook through your vehicle plug into it. This we recharge either from mains power or from Biolite’s small photovoltaic panel that sits in front of the steering wheel or that we place on the vehicle roof or on a table when we stop at the end of the day when the sun is still up.

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Our Biolite minilantern proved useful throughout the road trip. We charged its battery via the Biolite solar panel in the photo. The yellow strip on the panel is also a battery. Capable or running at half or full power, the battery in the lamp produced enough light at half power to illuminate the inside of the minivan. It connects to a couple small, cable connected LED lights that can be hung from the ceiling of the vehicle or strung outside if eating at the folding table. Its USB outlet on the lamp allowed us to recharge our iPhones on the road.

6. POWER

A small battery to recharge your mobile phone or tablet is worth the expense if you camp away from an electrical connection. Something like an iPad (we travel with an iPhone and iPad each) or an equivalent Android device will require a larger battery than your phone, however a battery around 7500 to 20,000 millamps will recharge both devices.

A laptop will require an inverter and the appropriate plug to change your vehicle’s 12 volt output into (for Australia and New Zealand) 240 volts. You can run the inverter  from your vehicle’s power output jack.

Popular, too, are Goal Zero systems that include a larger capacity battery and inverter in one device. They are expensive, however they are well made and will last for years and also provide back-up power at home during blackouts. The larger have a power outlet suitable for recharging laptop and camera batteries as well as a couple USB outlets. Several sizes are available ranging from the backpackable to the caravan size. There are other brands with which I am not familiar.

7. FOOD

Yes, you need to eat on the road. You can replicate the same balanced diet as you have at home.

The key to successful campsite cooking is basic, fast-cooking foods that are easy to prepare. Fast-cooking means less fuel use. Basic implies you can combine different ingredients, or, if not, add herbs and spices so that the same meal you had last night tastes different tonight.

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Basic foods that keep well are best for road tripping.

We have meusli for breakfast and it provides the carbohydrates to sustain us through the day. Add fresh fruit that you buy along the way, as well as milk (powdered if you have no refrigeration in the minivan or fresh milk stored in a cool box) or fruit juice. Lunch might be bread that you buy in towns you pass through or crispbread biscuits with cheese, peanut butter, honey or, for Australians and conoisseurs of fine food everywhere, Vegemite. The latter three require no refrigeration and also make good bushwalking fare (Vegemite can also be stirred into hot water to make a tasty soup). Dinner could be fast-cooking basmati rice, the smaller (faster cooking) pasta or noodles with vegetebles (if fresh are unavailable, try dried).

If your minivan has a small refrigerator (35 litres is all you probably need unless there are a lot of you) then your choice of fresh foods is greater. Our hired minivan came with a fridge of that capacity that ran off the vehicle’s power outlet while driving and that, at night, retained the coolth to keep the veges, fruit juice and milk cool. We lifted it into the front passenger’s seat at night so we could unfold the mattress.

For successful cuminary adventures while travelling by minivan I recommend fast-cooking basic foods (less hassle to prepare in cold, windy weather and they use less fuel in preparation), a folding table and couple folding chairs, and a tarp as an awning. Our minivan had the advantage of a small table that could be set up inside though we used the folding table outside more often.

If you travel in a van then you might be able to cook inside with the door and windows open to vent carbon monoxide. The minivan we hired came with an easy-to-unfurl tarp that sheletered the side of the vehicle, the folding table and chairs. The kitchenette behind the tailgate had a flip-out table as a workbench. A side or rear tarp is a worthwhile investment and can be jury-rigged with a couple telescoping tent poles and some rope and a little imagination.

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The minivan was equipped with a kitchenette far larger than we usually need, and with utensils far more numerous than we usually take. A kitchenette like this in not needed at all. Carrying your cooking kit in a plastic storage box and food in another is a basic though functional solution that we have used on other road trips. The drop-down door proved useful for food preparation, however, although a folding table would provide the same usefullness. The space taken by the kitchenette could be used for other purposes.

8. CLOTHING

Clothing is selected according to the climate you will travel in, the season and the weather you anticipate. Obviously, in the cooler months what you pack will differ to the warmer months. Think of clothing as something to keep you warm, something to block the wind, something to keep you comfortable in hot weather, something to keep you dry.

Living out of a van or minivan is not the time for nice fashionable clothing. That’s for the city, if at all. What you need is hardy outdoor clothes such as you might wear travelling or bushwalking. This should include:

  • several changes of underwear
  • several Tshirts (I always include a couple merino wool Tshirts that are also suitable for walking in the Tasmanian mountains where cold, rainy weather can come in suddenly; unlike some synthetics, merino can be worn for days on end because it doesn’t retain odour as much as synthetics; you can also buy merino undies)
  • one, maybe two synthetic, long sleeve shirts that roll up small for packing and that dry quickly after washing
  • three pair of long, synthetic, traveller’s trousers ( a pair of shorts is useful in warmer months, too; if you are going surfing your board shorts will do)
  • swimmers
  • a lightweight wool or fleece pullover or fleece jacket
  • a lightweight windproof jacket
  • waterproof jacket and, especially for bushwalking in the mountians, a pair of waterproof overtrousers
  • a cap or hat as well as a beanie in case of cold weather
  • shoes and sandals
  • a bandana as sweatrag while walking, as an emerency wound dressing or as a general purpose cloth.
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Utilitarian clothing designed for the outdoors or bushwalking will prove versatile and comfortable for road tripping.

Here’s what we take as a standard kit for travel on the south-eastern mainland and in Tasmania:

  • cotton (three) and merino wool (two) Tshirts
  • two long sleeve nylon shirts; my partner wears a white shirt in hot weather as it reflects sunlight and, she claims, is cooler than a dark colour, plus a medium blue shirt; I wear medium blue or a dark colour as those colours show dirt less than lighter colours; roll up the sleeves in hot weather; the shirts can also double as a windproof top; roll the sleeves down to avoid sunburn
  • three pair of long, synthetic trousers; choose grey, a darker khaki or brown or black as those colours show dirt less than lighter colours
  • a pair of shorts (boardshorts will serve and are also useful for surfing or snorkeling)
  • swimmers (there’s nothing like the refreshing and reinvigorating feeling of a dip in the surf or in a lake at the end of a hot, sweaty day of driving or as a substitute for a shower or sponge bath)
  • a thin merino wool pullover
  • a fleece pullover
  • for other than bushwalking, for city of gereral wear, I take a Patagonia nano-air jacket which, if needed, can also be worn on cold bushwalks though it is more for putting on when you stop than for wearing on the move when it can be too warm; the jacket is designed as activewear and is not a windproof as it is designed to ventilate; you could add a lightweight windshell like the Patagonia Houdini over the top to fend off strong, bitey winds
  • for cool season travel, especially in the mountains, a lightweight down or synthetic fill puff jacket will keep you toasty at cold campsites or in cold cities; consider a model with a hood as it is through your head that much heat is lost; for milder conditions consider a down or synthetic fill vest
  • a superlight, supercompact (packs into its own pocket) windproof that we each take is the Patagonia Houdini nylon jacket with a hood; this is good over a Tshirt for mild but windy days in town or on the road
  • for wet weather, a waterproof (and breathable, though there are limits to the breathability of waterproof fabrics) Patagonia Totternshell jacket and, especially for mountain walking in cold, wet weather, a pair of waterproof overtrousers
  • one pair of sturdy walking shoes (or lightweight boots) suitable for rough bush tracks, one pair lightweight running shoes or sneakers for wearing while driving, in town or around camp, one pair sandals known to Australians as thongs, to the Brisish as flip-flops and New Zealanders as jandals; these are fine for serviced campsites during warm weather (add warm socks when it gets chilly) and for where there are no biting ants, mosquitoes or blood-sucking leeches; they are also good to wear in showers where the sanitation might be a bit dodgy
  • a cap, a hat with wider brim for sunny weather and a fleece (or wool) beanie
  • a pair of wool or fleece gloves in case cold weather comes in.

9. WATER

As well as a 600ml to one litre size water bottle that you can pack for bushwalks and use in the vehicle, you will need a minimim 10, preferable 20 litres of water for cooking and washing.

Carry it in a plastic jerrycan or in two, ten litre containers. Insulated water containers, both large and small, are available at camping goods stores and some come with a tap. Top up wherever you find the opportunity.

10. MISCELLANEOUS

Include a small but comprehensive first aid kit (make up your own). Make this up with bandaids, wound dressings, a medium width bandage, sterile cleaning pads to clean out wounds, blister dressings, iburprofen (also reduces inflammation) or other pain killers, Imodium or similar capsules to stabilise an upset stomach and treat diarrhoea, tweezers to remove splinters and particles from wounds, a broad compression bandage for dressing large wounds/splinting/treating snake or spider bite. Add spare prescription medications if you take them.

I get all of this into a small waterproof, zip-closed bag. On our last Tasmanian journey it came in handy, first when I was slicing tomatoes and mistook my finger for one, second for my partner when she did much the same and when she needed to reduce the inflammation and pain of an injured hip.

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Setting up at an unserviced bush campsite on Tasmania’s north east coast. The awning came in handy thanks to the occasional showers and, elsewhere, as shelter from the sun. The folding table and seats stowed conveniently in the rear cargo space. The pop-up inside table (seen leaning against the tent pole at left) has been removed to flip out the mattress.

If you are outfitting your own van, minivan or camping car, a modest set of tools could prove useful. As a minimum: a set of screw drivers, pliers, small or medium shifting spanner, hammer (bashes in tent pegs too), small folding pruning saw, small hatchet, small pry bar, short spade and jumper leads to start a vehicle with a flat battery. A length of tow rope might be useful. If you are travelling and hiring a vehicle, consider taking a multitool with knife blade, pliers, can and bottle opener, file, awl, flat and phillips head screwdriver and, maybe, a saw blade. They are expensive but they are long-lived and useful in everyday life too.

Depending where you are there are options for personal hygiene. It is true that you do not need to shower every day. You can go several days between showers depending on how grotty you get. That will happen more in summer than the cooler months when you sweat less and body odour accumulates at a slower pace.

Caravan parks offer hot showers and washing machines. It is worthwhile spending the money weekly or fortnightly to appreciate the luxury of these facilities and to wash your clothes. Formal campsites usually have a camp kitchen equipped with refrigerator, stove, washing up facilities and tables and chairs. You will find these differ in size, equipment and comfort. The caravan park camp kitchen at Snug, south of Hobart, for example, is a large, well-equipped hexagonal structure that keeps out the wind and rain coming in from the sea. The camp kirchen at the caravan park at Launceston, Tasmania’s second city, is small, minimally equipped and open sided, though quite adequate for cooking and sitting to eat a meal. Caravan parks offer a change from cooking in the van or minivan.

At a bush campsite you can warm some water (no need to boil it), pour it into your washing up dish and have a sponge bath. A pleasant alternative in all but winter is to take a dip in the ocean or a lake or river you camp by. Watch for strong currents and have your partner, if you travel with one, watch out for you. This is especially important if travelling with children.

You will need a small personal hygiene or bathroom kit. As well as a towel (we take one of those fast drying travellers’ microfibre towels of medum or large size) pack a bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss. Contact lens wearers will need their container for the lenses to securely store them overnight. If you wear a denture pack a container to keep it in overnight. I find a tube of aloevera paste soothing of sunburn and dry skin. All of this, other than the towel, fits into a small bag that you can take along on overnight bushwalks. I stuff the towel into a small mesh-topped bag from which moisture can evaporate. When driving, spread your towel somewhere in the vehicle so that it dries and airs. Wash it occasionally.

Don’t forget a water bottle each, sun cream and insect repellent and toilet paper. You might find a roll of paper kitchen towels useful for cleaning up.

A groundsheet is a very useful thing to stow in the minivan. The woven plastic type comes in various sizes and colours and has eyelets for attaching lines. It can be used for sitting on wet ground or rigged from the vehicle roofrack or between trees as a sunshade or rain shelter.

I keep an additional lightweight nylon groundsheet in my bushwalking pack as an emergency shelter if we are forced to overnight while on a bushwalk. Take some metres of cord to string from the corner eyelets to branches or other tie-off points. You can tie and leave the cord on the groundsheet.

THE TEN POINTS

The travel kit I have discussed here should work for most of us on road trips spanning days to months. If you plan to live permanently from your van, as many are doing, you would need a more comprehensive kit, though not all that more comprehensive.

The ten points summarise what we have found useful for travel by full-size van and minivan where those vehicles also serve to get us to trailheads for bushwalking. As mentioned at the start of this article, the recommendations would also serve those using a larger station wagon or a sedan and rooftop or car camping or hiking tent as their means of travel and accommodation. Think carefully about your own needs. What do you plan to do on your road trip? Pack equipment for that. What do you like eating and how can you find compact quick-to-cook ingredients that you can cook on a small stove at a bush campsite or in a caravan park?

Don’t overplan and create strict deadlines or spend too much time driving. Allow time to stop somewhere nice and relax, and chill out. Be spontaneous. There is much to be said for unplanned days at a pleasant campsite spent taking life easy, talking, reading, cooking and eating, enjoying a good wine… being idle. You don’t have to do anything in particular other than just be and let the day sort itself out. You will come to welcome these occasional layover days.

Finally, can I add an extra point — point 11. You already have the equipment for this. It is called your brain, specifically, your attitude. Set forth on your minivan or vehicle adventure with the attitude that you are living life as an adventure. You are living differently to how you normally live in the city. Priorities are different. Expectations are different. Comfort levels are different. You might be stepping out of your comfort zone, but be reassured that no matter how chancy this feels, it is here that new discoveries (including those about yourself) and new horizons await.

Plan, pack, go. What are you waiting for?

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The advantage of travelling self-contained is the opportunity to make a lunch stop wherever you like, such as this lake in the hill country in the foothills of the Western Tiers.
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Somewhere below the Western Tiers on the road to the Meander forest, we make a roadside stop. In the forest a number of walking tracks take you on long day walks to Meander Falls and into the mountainous rainforest country behind. There are also informal bush campsites nearby where you can overnight.
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3 thoughts on “Ten

    1. The table was already installed in the minivan. A fitting in the floor accepted the metal leg which the table top fitted to. Came apart to roll out the matress at night. The company also supplied a folging table for use outside the minivan.

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