If you’ve made it here and you’re planning your lap of Australia or a long road trip and you want to make sure you’ve got all the must-have gear – you’re in the right place!
We have provided a guide from our own experience for all the essentials for travelling Australia full-time. Plus some tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way to make life ‘easier’ while living in our camper trailer.
Before we get into it, let’s start off with some of the basic essential items for full-time travel. You will find our comprehensive list of essentials for travelling Australia full-time further down if you want to skip ahead, but first some very important tips:
The Basic Essential Items For Full-Time Travel In Australia
Some of these items might be expected, however, we wanted to provide a couple of the basics before we get into the bigger essential items. There is A LOT to research before embarking in full-time travel in Australia, so you may slip past some of these:
- A decent sunscreen (we won’t use anything else but this one as it feels more like a moisturiser over a greasy sunscreen)
- A wide-brimmed hat that fits well (there’s nothing worse than chasing your hat every 5 minutes – or being sunburnt every day)
- A comfortable chair (you will spend more time in your chair than you think – down days are essential for not experiencing burnout and sometimes the weather will decide you won’t be leaving camp for the day)
- Spare thongs – Nick’s already been through 4 pairs (all within 2 months) and I’m almost finished with my second pair. You’ll use these more often than you think and yes, we are talking shoes, not underwear.
- Insect repellant – this is 100% a part of the essential items to survive full-time travel. We originally used Bushman’s but don’t enjoy the strong smell and have recently been making our own using 1 part Dettol, baby oil and eucalyptus oil and IT WORKS!!
- An expectation that things will go wrong but it will be okay. In this lifestyle, you will have to adapt to change a lot
- Get ready to be the captain of your own ship – this adventure will keep you on your toes with the constant change of scenery and experiences that you will talk about for the rest of your life!
The Hard Parts Of Full Time Travel In Australia
Life on the road is a unique, incredible journey!
We have loved every moment and wouldn’t go back to our old lifestyle with any amount of money offered…but there are some downfalls to the lifestyle and having the right knowledge and gear can really assist with making this life more comfortable.
Let’s run through some of the harder adjustments we’ve encountered so far. This includes things out of our control and also things we have to be more conscious of during our travels:
- Strong winds make for difficult cooking even with a wind guard (all our cooking devices are outdoors), we have also experienced poles lifting on our awning and our tropical cover ripped off one corner in a strong wind event we experienced. Guy ropes are essential!
- 40 plus degree days are absolutely exhausting when you’re in an area without a swimming hole to cool down (we also don’t have air-conditioning except in our car, so this may not apply to everyone)
- Days of constant rain leave you pretty stuck at camp and NOTHING dries!
- Water is precious – you learn to be extremely conservative with what you have
- We constantly monitor our water gauge to ensure our 100L water tank is never empty. We are capable of going ‘off grid’ however we are required to head into town every couple of days to stock our water with our 50L water jugs
- Space is extremely limited in every aspect of this life – you have to consider storage for water, food, clothing and literally everything else
- Tetris packing art becomes a necessity. Everything has it’s own place, and don’t forget you have to put the item back where it belongs. A little tip – organise the gear so the everyday used items are easily accessed and less frequent gear is at the back of the drawer/bag
- A great deal we would have snagged at the grocery store when we lived in the house may not be achievable now due to fridge, freezer and pantry space
Enough Power: Chasing The Sun
- Following the sun with the solar panel – if you know you know.
- Ensuring you have enough power to keep your electrical devices charged is one of the most important tasks, one cloudy day or a day of no driving can really affect the batteries
- You quickly learn to only charge devices during the day or use the power-sapping devices during peak sun
Hygiene (Shower & Toilet Specific)
This simple task in a house isn’t quite as simple in a camper trailer.
For us we are required to set up our ensuite tent, fill the toilet flush and waste tank and set up the shower stand. When it comes to using the shower, our gas hot water system turns on to fill our canvas bag. We also preserve water by turning the bag on and off between washing and lathering the soap.
- Once our toilet waste is full, this has to be emptied at the local dump point – this is never a fun experience but it’s now a part of our life
- One thing we miss (if you don’t have a camper with a decent shower and a large water capacity) is having the ability to shower every day
Washing Our Clothes
We have a couple of money-saving goals while on the road. One of them is we don’t want to pay to have our clothes laundered. This means we purchased a manual washing machine.
- If we’re low on water, we can’t wash our clothes
- If we’ve been in a pretty dusty/dirty area we basically have to double-wash everything
- Our manual washing machine only washes a small amount of clothing at a time, which means it takes a long time to do a normal washing machine load
- If it’s raining for an extended period of time, you need to hit up a laundromat (we’ve only done this once)
All in all, some of those things just require a little bit more forward-thinking, so really not a drama once you’ve settled into a routine.
However, some of those things can make for a bad day such as the intense weather. Or if you’re a bit tired or heat-stroked, those little things can defeat you for the moment.
The Essentials For Travelling Australia Full-Time
With all the harder parts of this lifestyle in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our essentials for travelling Australia full-time that assist us with being as comfortable as we can without being overweight in our set-up.
The essential items for a big lap of Australia range from storage hacks to everyday items you may not have thought of.
Some of these might not seem essential to you, and that’s perfectly okay – everyone has different needs and wants and every traveller’s set up will be different.
Lets get into our essentials for travelling Australia full-time:
To explain this one simply, it is basically a slow cooker without power. We have only tried wet/liquid meals with this one (curries, corned beef, honey mustard chicken etc) but it has been a game changer.
When we know we have a big day planned, we pop all the ingredients into the large pot, boil for up to 30 minutes on the gas stove and insert the pot into the thermal sleeve. The meal will continue cooking all day and be perfectly cooked at dinner time.
There has been some moments when we are in cool or windy areas, the meal is on the cooler side by the end of the day, in these moments we just reheat on the gas stove. Either way, this means we can have a decent meal after a big day exploring an area and not feel the need to eat out.
An additional bonus, the pots supplied in the thermopot double as our cooking pots (another handy tip – you’ll learn to double purpose A LOT!)
2. Aeropress (Coffee)
That first coffee in the morning.
If this is important to you, finding the right device comparable to a coffee machine is pretty important. Prior to heading off on our lap we experimented with 3 devices and the Aeropress was the winner by far!
We love this device and it makes coffee reasonable quickly. We also find the device removes a lot of bitterness from coffee, allowing us to buy cheaper grinds.
Check out our coffee trial and error here to learn more about why it’s our favourite.
3. Jet Boil
This is another add-on for coffee making as this is our fast-boil “kettle”. We do have a kettle for the gas stove, however, it is slower. The jet boil has your water ready promptly with measurements along the side so you can boil the exact amount required.
4. 12V Vacuum
From experience, it’s impossible to keep inside tidy as you’re constantly bringing in sand, dirt or whatever ground you are standing on (even with mats). The vacuum gives you the freedom to tidy up regularly as it only takes a couple of minutes to vacuum our inside space.
We have the Makita Stick Vacuum and it’s been perfect for keeping the trailer and car clean. We haven’t had to pay for a vacuum at a car washing facility with this handy little device.
Added bonus, all our tools (drill, driver, leaf blower, radio) are Makita so we already had the batteries packed and ready to go.
If you are taking a different tool brand with you, check to see if they also make a vacuum.
5. Rechargeable Lanterns
Yes, we do have a 12v bar light system however we also have rechargeable lanterns.
For short stays, we don’t set up the 12v system and just opt for these lanterns. They throw just enough light to cook dinner or do the dishes. Plus you don’t have to use the trailers batteries at night!
6. Fishing Rod Storage
This was a hard decision, we did a lot of research. We found the perfect solution for us was in the car. We have our 2 fishing rods strapped on the passenger side of the car straight to the holy crap/grab bars.
This means we can access our rods within a couple of minutes, we did also look at a PVC pipes but due to the size of the reel..this would mean separating the rods in sections. We thought about this long and hard and decided we probably wouldn’t fish much with the added effort.
We also kept the fishing rod holder on our bull bar for when we’re beach camping so the rods are even easier to access!
7. Collapsible Bucket, Laundry Tub & Dish Drainer
This means the items all slip into small areas rather than taking up a large amount of space.
8. Silicone Collapsible Containers, Zip Lock Bags & Spice Bags
I was a tupperware queen when living in our house BUT our space doesn’t allow for the storage of these containers. To prepare for the trip, we purchased this range of different sized silicone collapsible containers and we use them ALL THE TIME.
The next essential item in this category is spice jars. To minimise space we found these brilliant bags on Amazon. When I converted our jars to bags, we saved almost 2kgs. Not only did we save space and weight with our spices, we also use them for sugar, nuts, etc.
We very rarely used zip lock bags while living in the house, I think a pack lasted us 2-3 years.. although we are still on the packs we purchased while at the house, we do unfortunately use these a lot now to assist with storing our fridge items with minimal space used.
We have a handful of reusable silicone zip lock bags and eventually aim to have enough silicone zip lock bags to avoid the added waste in the environment.
9. Car Net
A simple net that attaches to the 4 grab handles (the holy crap bars).
For us, this net stores our picnic rug, swimming towels, some jumpers and our pool noodles. It is a fantastic way to store some lightweight gear to avoid them taking up space elsewhere in the vehicle.
Plus when you need those items, they are in eye sight so no need to rummage through everything.
10. Dirty Bags
If you don’t know what we’re referring to it’s the bag you often see attached to the spare tyre on a 4WD or caravan. Believe it or not we have 4 dirty bags, each with their own purpose.
Honestly, if one of them broke we’d probably replace it straight away as they really assist with storing dirtier items. This is how we use ours:
- Rubbish bin & transport the toilet waste canister
- Dirty washing
- Sand and ground mats
- Fossicking gear (sieves, picks etc) and our gum boots
11. Recovery Gear & Air Compressor
Bogged, flat tyre or travelling on the beach highway. These are pretty essential items to have on hand. From experience most of the beach camping areas are secluded with no reception so you may be left to your own devices to get out of a pickle.
We have a digital PSI tyre gauge, automatic tyre deflators, air compressor, snatch strap, 3 recovery tracks (we lost one while bogged at Kinkuna), long handled shovel and spare shackles to get us through.
Some more serious 4WD travellers will opt for an electric winch, however at this stage we didn’t find it necessary – plus it’s a lot of extra weight.
At a bare minimum we think the PSI gauge, air compressor, recovery tracks and shovel is a must have.
12. 12v Ceiling Fan
When it’s hot, it’s hot. “Frank the Fan” really helps us with cooling down the camper trailer (mostly at night, we kinda just deal with it during the day). He is loud, like really loud. But he is also very much worth it.
We have now experienced up to 50 degree days and we wouldn’t have been able to sleep without this amazing device whirring away.
Added bonus (as we live in canvas) when we’ve experienced severe rain we pop the fan on to avoid the canvas staying wet for long periods of time no one wants mould, right!
13. Inline Filter for the 100L Water Tank
A simple device that clicks onto the hose when filling the water tanks or jugs.
By using an inline filter when filling our water tanks, we preserve our pump to our sink by not running any grit through it. This also ensures we don’t suck any ‘nasties’ into our tank.
We also travel with all the tap connectors as some taps have no attachments. We can click on ours and attach our hose to make using the filter easier.
14. Water Filter Jug (For Drinking Water)
Before heading off on our lap, we had a water filter for years, and for this reason I became a bit fussy with tap water. We decided to purchase the water filter to top up our water bottles as a precaution with all the different water we’ll be drinking.
We’ve already experienced extremely treated water and bore water that we couldn’t drink without the water filter (some we had to filter multiple times to even consider drinking) – so definitely a must have for our lap of Australia.
If you’ll be purchasing bottled drinking water, this one won’t be important for you.
15. Manual Washing Machine
As mentioned earlier, we didn’t want to constantly spend money on laundry. So we opted for this manual washing machine.
The washing machine does only hold a small amount of clothes and takes a solid few minutes between adding water, wool wash, clothes and the spin and dry cycle.
To hang our washing we add ropes to trees to create a line for the larger items and use one of these foldable drying racks for the small items such as socks and jocks. This has worked a treat for us so far to avoid carting a bulky collapsible washing line.
We have definitely saved a lot of money with this device! In total we have only spent $12 for 3 loads of washing in the 4 months of our lap of Australia, when the rain just wouldn’t let up.
But just for some insight on how quickly the price could add up, when leaving our first 2 week camp site with sand in everything we checked a laundromat to get all the sheets and clothes cleaned and found it would cost $13 a load. No thanks.
16. Sectioned Toiletry Bag
We have a 3 section toiletry bag to hold our every day toiletry items.
The sections are different sizes. The first smaller one holds things like cotton tips, tweezers, etc. The second holds our tooth brushing items and the third is for face moisturisers, deodarants, etc. You might organise yours differently, but this works for us.
This toiletry bag is usually hung up on the camper trailer near our kitchen sink for easy access.
17. Dry Bags
You know the dry bags you get usually for boating to store your more precious devices? We had a couple of those from when we had our kayak.
They are fantastic when you’re staying at a campsite with facilities. Just pop all your toiletries in (you can even fit your clothes in some) and head off for a shower with your towel in hand.
18. Backseat Organisers
While on the topic of toiletry items, another storage element we have a few of are these backseat organisers.
2 hold a large portion of showering toiletry items such as shampoo, conditioner, razors etc. The last one holds the smaller tools and utility items such as straps.
As it’s just the two of us (no children), we have one on each rear window and one on the back of the front seat. This gives us so much extra storage space.
An added bonus, having small things like these for storage makes it easier to know where everything is.
19. Back Car Door Fold Down Table
Nick is really crafty and designed and built this for our car. It’s the perfect addition to pull up and make a quick lunch (our fridge is also in the car for this reason).
A quick clip system that makes it super easy to use, plus there’s just enough of a gap to fit in a small chopping board, a knife with a cover, wraps and plates.
20. Food Vacuum Sealer
Thankfully you can purchase vacuum sealers in 12v so we were able to add this to our gear.
By vacuum sealing all our meat, we can fit a large amount of food into our freezer – which means less trips to the butcher. Plus the fridge/freezer doesn’t work as hard when it’s completely full as all the items stored assist with keeping the temperature just right.
We tend to buy our meat at butchers, so we usually have a “vacuum seal day” where we separate the meat into meal portions and seal during the day while the sun is beaming!
A little tip – if you write the food item with permanent marker you’ll avoid getting out the wrong piece of meat (been there, done that).
21. Ice Tray For Drinks
This might sound a bit crazy but we attempted using a small fridge as a bulk meat/drinks fridge.
Our electrical system couldn’t handle the second fridge and we found a better solution. (The small fridge was power-sapping much more than our large fridge, which we thought was pretty crazy considering it was 1/4 of the size).
We keep our drinks hot in a tub. When you’re feeling a cheeky afternoon beverage, we grab some ice cubes and voila – you have a cold drink.
We do keep 2 silicone zip lock bags filled with ice at all times, so this is a bit of a chore as sometimes we use the ice in our water bottles as well… but it saves on storage, weight and our electrical system!
Side note – make sure to purchase an ice tray with a lid to avoid spills when driving.
22. Battery Bank
Ours specifically is a car jump starter, but it’s mostly used as a battery bank to charge our devices.
If you make sure this device is charged during the day, you don’t have to sap any of the trailers batteries to charge your phone or a lantern.
23. Pool Noodles
Prior to setting off on our lap, we always had floaties for our hundreds of water-located camping trips.
When evaluating our space, we opted for pool noodles as there is no set up required plus they slide right in our roof net, making them easy to access when we find the perfect spot for a swim.
24. Insulated Water Bottles & Tumblers
As mentioned earlier, I was the Tupperware Queen which included the plastic water bottles. If you’ve owned one and live in a hot part of the country you know if it’s hot, your water is hot.
By purchasing insulated water bottles and tumblers, you can guarantee the liquid going in will stay the same temperature.. and if the water is hot, you can add some ice cubes and the water will stay cool for hours.
Plus living this lifestyle is a little more rough, you’re going to knock your water bottle over onto the ground a lot. Plastic will break, whereas the insulated items can stand the knocks with limited damage.
Additional tip – opt for an easy to clean device as you no longer have a dishwasher. For example, I was gifted a yeti water bottle which is a dream to clean. We purchased a second cheap bottle that has a few more hard to get to grooves.
25. Fuel Doctor Additive For The Car
A fuel app will become a pretty important part to keeping the budget down (we use Petrol Spy). Even if you don’t opt for the cheapest fuel, you still run the risk of picking up some nasty fuel.
For preventative maintenance we always pop in fuel doctor to ensure we don’t run into any problems. This recommendation came from a mechanic when we started blowing a little bit of smoke. One run of the fuel doctor and the smoke was gone.
We still add the fuel doctor to our tank as we cruise through this country, just in case.
26. Water Jerry Cans
We started with a 10L and this definitely was not close to enough. We ended up getting rid of our fuel jerry can as our fuel tank holds 180L of diesel and instead have two 20L water cans to cart water.
This definitely helps as water is our highest use, especially when staying somewhere without a shower or when doing some washing.
27. Rainy Day Activities
This can be whatever you fancy – UNO, playing cards, board games, a Kindle eReader (or just use the app), colouring books, or a musical instrument.
My latest favourites are colouring books and paint by numbers (you can pick them up pretty cheap at dollar stores).
You may not use them all the time but you’ll be sure glad you have them when you’re faced with a few days rain and can’t leave camp or you’re too exhausted to head off on a physical adventure.
Throw Throw Burrito is a game we love – cards mashed with dodgeball!
28. Folding Table
We took off on our lap without an extra table and boy did we struggle with our tiny table that came in the camper trailer. We picked one up pretty early in our journey and we use it EVERYDAY.
This table is used for storage, food preparation, games, washing our laundry and everything in between. 10/10 we wouldn’t leave for our lap of Australia again without one!
We also opted for one that folds at the legs and not the middle of the table for complete sturdiness.
A Couple Extra For The List
- Rope and straps of all different kinds (occy straps, tie down straps) have been essential items for our lifestyle. We use them to hang things in the car when travelling, to fix things that break, etc
- Baby wipes – I know they’re not good for the environment but when you are low on water they can assist with a quick wipe down of feet, bits & pits or the table
- Ground mats; we have a sand mat for beach camping and a recycled plastic mat for when we a grassy ground. They really help with keeping our area tidy and just having a space for clean feet.
- Quick dry towels. We have normal towels for showering but a couple quick dry towels for swimming. Sometimes we’re in the water every couple of hours or have to hang the towels in the car while heading back to our next destination.
- Hammock – some people won’t agree with this but we LOVE our hammock..especially at a beautiful beach location to relax in the breeze.
- Beach Wagon/Cart – you may not use it that often but when you’re planning a day of fishing or hanging on the beach it sure does come in handy! We purchased ours from Bunnings, however if you’re looking for something with a roof (especially with little ones) this one might be more up your alley!
That about sums up our essentials for travelling Australia full-time. As we’re only 4 months into our lap of Australia, we’re definitely still learning.. and who knows maybe the essential list will change as we reach different states and experience different seasons.
With all that in mind, I can safely say there are a few on the list I know for sure, will be there for good!
PS – don’t forget, there are shops in most towns (especially cities and a lot of the coastal towns) so pack what you think are the essential items and if you need something along the way, go buy it.
Final Thoughts on Full Time Travel in Australia
Australia is a beautiful country that we are so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to explore.
Yes there will be bad days, or bad moments but I wouldn’t trade this journey to go back to my old life. I don’t even want to think about eventually settling back down into a routine with the same backyard everyday.
I have always been a bit of a routine person and this experience has been incredible for me to get out of my own head and just live. If you’re thinking about taking up full time travel, just do it. After all, if you don’t like it, you can always just pack up and go back home.
If you’ve made it to the end, thank you for taking the time to read our tips, tricks and essentials for travelling Australia full-time. We hope we’ve assisted you through planning your lap of Australia!
If you have something different in mind that we haven’t mentioned, let us know below in the comments.
More tips for your big lap: