Tips for Campervan & RV Travel
So you’ve been talking about taking this roadtrip for months, possibly years. Maybe you’re driving across Australia, New Zealand or North America. The allure of the outdoor beckons, so get ready for the adventure of your life!
Allowing yourself the freedom that travelling in a camper or RV has will enable you to have more control over your route, budget, time and comfort. However, there are some really simple life hacks that you can do to make your journey much, much more comfortable.
Timing your bed set up
I’ll start with the most important. Whether I was being eaten alive by bugs in the depths of the Australian Outback or freezing to death in a Canadian winter, making up the sleeping area after sundown was not fun.
It doesn’t matter how many torches you use inside the vehicle, the lighting is seldom good enough. Or perhaps you’re in a tiny space and there’s two of you trying to make the bed up.
Just make the bed while there’s still enough light to avoid making a hash of it. Simple.
After getting tired of walking around in sand, leaves, food crumbs or whatever else I’d managed to walk into my van, I decided to buy some cleaning items. Once crumbs and sand are in your van, you can bet that it won’t be long before they’re sharing your bed too.
First, I bought a cheap floor mat, cut it to size and used duct tape to stick it to the floor of the van. So after a day of playing on the beach I could wipe the sand off my flipflops before getting into the van. Second, for the crumbs that survived the floor mat, I’d sweep them up with a dustpan and brush every day or so.
The sweep can be helpful after cooking and eating in the van. Third, I kept a pack of cleaning wipes in the cabin to wipe down the steering wheel, dashboard, centre console and seats.
Once you start living/eating/sleeping in such a small space, it can get really icky, really fast.
Keeping cool at night
Not all campervans and RV’s come with mosquito guards on the windows, especially not the cheaper vans.
The Australian outback is unforgiving, even at night it can feel like you’re melting alive. I would start by leaving the windows open a little in order to get some ventilation. After waking up a human dot-to-dot masterpiece of mosquito bites, I decided to put my travel mosquito net to good use. No, not above the bed in the traditional way, but instead I would wrap it around the passenger door, open the window (as much or as little as I wanted) and closed the door with the mosquito net trapped in the door. This created a film of mosquito netting around the window and prevented mosquitoes from attacking me in the night.
Not sure how the mosquito would fair against a dingo or a pesky bear though.
If you’re going to be living in your campervan or RV long term (say over 2 weeks), it’s inevitable that you’re going to need to wash your clothes at some point. When I was travelling in the most remote areas laundrettes were not always readily accessible. I’d often hand wash my clothes and let them air dry. It’s legitimately acceptable to be a laundrette on wheels if you have to!
This is where my next tip comes in. Some campervans will provide washing lines that stretch across the ceiling space in the sleeping/living areas of the camper, while others don’t provide a washing line at all. In my case, in the absence of a washing line, I opted to buy magnetic pegs that would stick to interior walls of the campervan that were exposed metal. I could hang pretty much anything from them and they were even strong enough to hold my laundry while it was air drying as the van swerved up and down winding mountain roads.
Keeping your stuff steady
The countertops in campervans and RVs are the perfect place for you to store things that you don’t want to cram into a drawer, such as your toothbrush, moisturiser, a tissue box or spare coins that you forgot to put in your purse or wallet. They’re perfect until you’re driving and they immediately slide off. I found that buying rubber sticky mats and rubber ice trays are a great way to remedy this. I was able to leave bits and bobs on the countertop while I was driving and didn’t have to worry about them flying across the van when I turned a corner.
Fridge space saver
If you have a fridge in your campervan or RV, I’d bet it isn’t a very big one. I initially thought that I wouldn’t be using the fridge all that much, but the longer I lived in the campervan, the more I needed to cook myself in order to save money. This quickly resulted in an overstuffed fridge and I found myself not having enough space to keep my drinks cool. Instead I bought a cooler box and filled it with ice everyday to store my drinks inside, thus freeing up space in my fridge.
Pro Tip: The cooler box also made a great bucket for washing clothes and dishes.
If you’ve ever watched that Myth Busters episode where they abseil down a cliff using only duct tape, then you’ll know that it’s pretty much indestructible. With space in the living/sleeping area of the campervan being limited and the fishing rod I travelled with being enormous, I used duct tape to create hooks that enabled me to attach it to the roof. So the rod was suspended to the roof at all times, even while driving. I taped my headtorch to the ceiling and created a hanging ceiling light. I wonder what else I could have stuck to the ceiling?
Roadtripping is definitely one of the most freeing yet challenging methods of travel. I hope, on your trip, you’ll be met by spectacular scenery, fiery sunsets, endless coastlines, looming mountains, vibrant cities and the most wonderful people.