Must have’s

This is a post of things that you simply must remember to take with you when you’re travelling. Car, camper, cooking utensils, etc. are all a given. This is about the eclectic collection of bits and pieces that make life a bit easier and more comfortable while you’re away from the home base where things are taken for granted. Well, let’s get the show on the road.

Nappy wipes or baby wipes or whatever you call them. Two packs of eighty – one for the car and one for the camper/caravan. My wife keeps a packet on the passenger side floor under the seat. Dirty hands from coupling up in the morning ? Nappy wipe. Crumby, greasy hands from eating crisps ? No showers and can’t be bothered getting the hot water service out and connected ? Cleaning bugs off the windshield ? Nappy wipes. There’s a thousand and one uses for them. Keep plenty of them handy.

Cable ties. A packet of a hundred in various sizes. The uses are endless. I’ve used them to hold wiring up out of the way when the originals have broken. They’re good for stopping you from losing the “D” shackles on the camper suspension limit chains. They can also be used to hold plugs and sockets together.

Duct tape. That grey stretchy stuff about five centimetres wide. Again, the uses are almost endless. One great use is taping up doors and vents to stop red dust from getting into your camper / caravan. We forgot once on the Oodnadatta Track when it was dry and it’s safe to say we’ll never forget that again. Use it to tape a bit of 3-ply over your rear window to stop it from getting broken by rocks and stones ricocheting off you camper/caravan. We’ve even used it, and a couple of ring/open end spanners, to splint a broken hoop pole in the camper after it was broken by a severe wind gust at Yalara.

A camera or two or three. We take a Fuji pocket camera, a small Olympus pocket camera and an Olympus SLR camera. Of course we have our phones too. Make sure that you have plenty of memory cards too – you just can’t have too much storage. Seeing as we both take Windows tablets with us we also take a couple of 1TB SSD drives with us so we can put all of our photos on them so we never run out of memory cards.

Chargers for phones and laptops and cameras, etc. I started looking around for 12V chargers for everything and it soon became apparent that it was going to cost a fortune. I ended up getting a 150W pure sine wave inverter and a six socket power board so that we could just use our existing 240V chargers.

Batteries. Check to see what sort of batteries things use. You’ll be surprised at the number of types that you’ll need. We use 9V square, AA, AAA, 21700, 18650, D cells, C cells and probably others. If some of them are rechargeable you’ll need to take chargers too. As above just take your 240V chargers. Cameras, torches, e-cigarettes, alarm clock, whatever, make sure you have them all covered.

Of course you’ll need a few car spares and a set of spanners and sockets. No need to carry an entire spares department or a mechanics toolbox with you. I’d suggest a set of hoses and hose clamps as well as a serpentine belt as a minimum. Most modern engines only have few real show stoppers. A burst hose, broken serpentine belt, a dead electric fuel pump and the crank position sensor. Learn how to change them and you should be right. Check out your local dealership and ask if they can put a hose kit, a fuel pump and a sensor in a box for you and only charge you for what isn’t in pristine condition when it’s returned. Even if you have no mechanical or diagnostic abilities a fellow traveller may be able to assist if you have the required parts.

Some sort of roadside insurance. If you do end up with a show stopper you’ll need to recover the camper/caravan or vehicle to a place of repair. When we lost a camper wheel we needed to get the camper recovered to Hawker (SA) for repairs. Our insurance policy for the camper stated that we had roadside assist and recovery to the nearest place of repair but buried in the fine print there was the ability for the insurance company to wriggle out of it. Check you insurance policy to make sure it actually covers what you think it covers. Ours didn’t and we paid for it.

All of the above should be covered in a checklist that you make up. Put all of it on the list. When you’re packing to go away drag out your trusty list. It goes without saying (almost) that the list is getting updated constantly with things that you didn’t have but needed as well as crossing off things that you took and didn’t need.

And last but far from least. Probably the most important. A healthy attitude. Accept that things won’t go to plan and that there will be breakdowns and other stuff-ups either of your own making or by things that you can’t control. Don’t travel just hoping for the best or fearing the worst. Just accept that, as an old boss of mine used to say, “it is what it is”.  If it all goes decidedly bad then you have a few great stories for family and friends. If it all goes well you’ll have a few good stories for family and friends. Use the trip to add to your life experience and make the most of it.

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