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Van Life

Big Lap Essentials: 24 Things You Need To Crush Australian Van Life

by Rose Foster

Big Lap Life is incredible, especially if you’ve planned properly and have everything you need to absolutely crush Big Lap Life. This guide will show you everything you need to live life on the road and thrive! Welcome to the ultimate guide to Big Lap Essentials.

Your Set-Up

1. A Car That Suits Your Needs

This is perhaps one of the most essential of all the Big Lap essentials!

One of the most important things that you need is your ride. You need wheels that will get you from a to b and everywhere in between. It’s difficult to give advice on the ‘right’ car to do your Big Lap in because there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The better way to look at this is ensuring you have the right car to suit you and your family’s needs.

  • Where do you want to travel? Off-road? Main roads only?
  • Who is travelling with you? What size car do you need?
  • Do you want the peace of mind of having a new car? Can you afford a new car?
  • What are you towing? Will your car pull your van?
  • Do you need to kit out your car with all the accessories?
  • Do you want diesel or petrol – does it matter to you?
  • Do you want manual or auto?
  • Do you actually want a car – what about a campervan?

2. Accommodation That Suits Your Needs

Just as important as choosing your car is choosing your accommodation. The likelihood is that you’ll be spending a lot of time in your accommodation, whether it be a caravan, camper trailer or otherwise. Again, there is no right or wrong option when it comes to choosing your accommodation because it ultimately comes down to choosing an option that suits your individual needs and requirements.

  • How many people are travelling?
  • How much time do you want to spend setting up each time?
  • Do you want a new van? Can you afford one?
  • Do you need space to work or to teach the kids?
  • Do you need a bathroom? Washing machine?
  • How much storage do you need?
  • Do you need all the comforts of home?
  • Where are you taking your van? Do you need to go offroad?
  • Are you happy with single-axel or do you want the safety of dual-axel?

There are more questions that you’ll need to ask depending on your own personal circumstances. So, write a list of your must-haves, would-likes and not-necessaries before you start your search.

3. Your Outdoor Set Up

Your outdoor set-up doesn’t need to be as considered as your car and accommodation, but it does need to be considered nonetheless. During your Big Lap, you’ll spend so much time outside (especially if you’re chasing the Sun). In fact, many Big Lappers are surprised by how little time they actually spend inside.

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Camp chairs
  • Table (think about your storage space!)
  • Outdoor cooker or BBQ – many people choose WeberQs or standard camp cookers
  • Rug or matting – not absolutely necessary but nice if you are staying in a location without a concrete slab.
  • Outdoor lighting

Basic Needs

Being on the road doesn’t mean you can’t make your van feel homely, nor does it mean you have to make do without all the ‘mod-cons’ of living in a house. Here’s what you need to live a comfortable life whilst travelling Australia.

4. Fan, Heating, Air-Cons etc

If you’re affected by the heat or like to keep things cozy, then you need to think about your temperature controlling gear. If you don’t have an air-con installed in your van, then it’s not always practical to buy a portable one. Although you can get 12v air-conditioned, purchasing a good camping fan is a great solution.

The same goes for heating, depending on your van, your installed aircon may have a heating option, but 12v heaters are also readily available.

5. Power & Solar

Next, it’s important to think about your power supply. Most vans will run off 12v power and store a few days worth of electricity to allow you to power lights etc for a few days if you’re off-grid. As standard, this is the same situation with your car. Unlike your van though, you will likely have 1 x 12v battery which will run your car and not much else!

But, if you want to stay connected to power and not be hindered by watching what you turn on when you’re off the grid, there are some things you should consider.

  • Solar – if you want to stay off the grid in a National Park or one of Australia’s many free camps, then getting solar may be a worthwhile investment.
  • Inverter – while you can generally get 12v versions of most things, if you want to take electrical items which are designed for traditional 240v power outlets, you’ll need to install an inverter.
  • Dual battery system – if you want to run a fridge in your car or have something like a compressor installed, you can install a dual battery system in your car.

6. Lighting

One thing that many people take for granted is light! While most vans have a good supply of light inside, many don’t pack a punch in the outdoor illumination department. Ensure you have an adequate lighting solution outside, consider portable options and think about lighting options that you can use if you have no power.

7. Space-Saving & Organisational Gear

If you’ve not spent much time in a caravan, here’s a tip: properly organising your belongings and coming up with practical space-saving solutions is paramount! Here are some incredible space-saving and organisational items and tips:

8. Cleaning Gear

The beauty about vans is that they take no time at all to clean! But, as mentioned above, you do have limited space so you have to be conservative with the amount of cleaning gear you can bring with you will be limited.

Living Your Best Van Life

So, as well as the basics, there are a number of things that will enhance your life on the road. Depending on your travel style and your personal needs, you may want to consider the following:

9. Coffee Solutions

Coffee is life to Australians, and to many, the thought of having to resort to instant coffee while on their Big Lap is almost enough to put them off travelling altogether. Ok, not quite that drastic, but it is a real problem. Luckily, over the past few years, camping coffee solutions have stormed onto the market. Here are some of the best:

10. WiFi

If you just need wifi here and there for a quick Google search or social media check-in, then your mobile phone’s data may be enough to get by. But, let’s face it, most of us require a large amount of data and our phones just won’t cut it. What’s more, phone service in certain parts of Australia is patchy at best!

Here are some of the best mobile wifi solutions:

  • CelFi
  • Nighthawk
  • RV Wifi

This guide will help you better understand how to stay connected when travelling Australia

11. Entertainment

While Australia’s great outdoors will be your entertainment for a large portion of your trip, don’t underestimate the amount of downtime you’ll actually want when you’re travelling. As with everything, the entertainment options you’ll want will be entirely down to your personal preference, but here are some ideas:

  • 12v Smart TV – your van may have a TV but a Smart TV will give you access to streaming services.
  • Kindle – want to read during your Big Lap? Buying a kindle means you don’t have to carry around bulky books (also, did you know you can download the kindle app on your smartphone!?)..
  • Headphones – invest in some good headphones so you can listen to music, play podcasts or listen to audiobooks.
  • Travel Games – mini-versions of some of the world’s most popular games are a great idea.
  • Journal – why not pass the time away writing about your experiences? It will make for a great memento of your Big Lap.

12. Gym Membership

If you’re someone who loves the gym, you don’t have to give it up while you’re travelling Australia. In fact, there are some chains whereby you can get a monthly membership and access all locations. Anytime Fitness is one such example and has over 300 branches Australiawide

Getting The Most From Your Lap

Your Big Lap is all about exploring, finding the best places and enjoying the best that Australia has to offer. But don’t just leave it to chance, these things will help you get the most from your Big Lap.

13. Get The Apps You Need

Remember the saying, ‘there’s an app for that’? Well, this is especially true when it comes to travelling Australia. From apps that help you find the best camps to fuel finder apps, smartphones are your best friend when you’re on your big aussie road trip.

Here are the top 5 apps you should download onto your phone before you set off.

  1. WikiCamps: one of the most popular apps to help find awesome camping spots.
  2. TrackMyTour: track where you’ve been and create a picture map of memories.
  3. HemaMaps: great if you’re heading off road.
  4. TrailWallet: a great expense tracker
  5. Public Toilet Map: for obvious reasons!

This guide will give you a deeper look into the apps you should download for your Big Lap.

14. Facebook Groups

The Lapping community in Australia is vast, and joining Facebook groups like Aussie Big Lappers can be a lifeline, a source of entertainment, a brains trust and a Big Lap advisory. Fellow Big Lappers are more than happy to share their stories, offer advice and answer any questions you may have.

15. Follow Big Lap Bible

The purpose of Big Lap Bible is to provide inspiration to people travelling Australia and enhance their trips. By sharing the stories of other travellers and incredible photos from around the country, we give Lappers a daily dose of #inspo!

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

Life Admin

Unfortunately, sometimes you just can’t get away from the mundane side of regular life! When you’re on the road, there are still some typically responsible things that you’ll need to think about.

16. Mailing Address

Most people heading out on the road will not generally keep their home – even if you’re not planning on selling your home, you’ll probably rent it out. Essentially, this means that your home address is no longer your home address so you will need to consider where your mail will be sent during your trip away.

If you don’t have a friend or family member you can send your mail to, you’ll need to set up a PO Box with Australia Post. If you’re planning to go back to the same address, you can simply arrange a redirect with the Post Office for the time you’re away. If not, then you should change everything into your PO Box address before you leave.

Many companies offer the option to choose email correspondence so check with your bank etc to minimise the amount of mail you’ll actually receive while on the road anyway. These days, even the motor vehicle registry in your state offers communication via email.

17. Insurance

While travelling Australia reduces a number of expenses that you have when living in a home, it does add some additional expenses in addition to the day-to-day travel costs. Insurance is one such thing: you’ll need to insure your van and you may need to increase your cover level on your car too.

Emergencies

Emergency situations can occur any time when on the road so you need to be prepared for these eventualities.

18. Breakdown Cover

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of emergency planning is getting adequate breakdown cover. If you’re planning on going off-road, then you’d be wise to ensure your breakdown cover will recover you if you get stuck off the beaten track.

19. Emergency Fund

There’s nothing worse than running into an emergency and not being able to afford the solution, or even worse, having it cut your trip short. From car troubles to needing to fly home urgently, there are so many scenarios that may need you to fork out cash unexpectedly. So, expect the unexpected!

20. Emergency Plan

Having an emergency plan is also essential, especially if you have children. You can’t plan for every eventuality, but you can have a family plan so your kids know what to do if they get lost or if something happens to you, for example.

21. Tool Kit

Having a basic toolkit in your car will help get you out of a bind in a multitude of situations… if you know how to use the tools that is!

22. First Aid Kit

Another essential thing to have in your car is a first aid kit. You never know when you’ll need it, and when you do, you’ll want it to be close to hand.

23. For The Kids

If you’ve got kids, you know their ‘stuff’ can slowly take over the house. So, while you need a few Big Lap things for your little ones, you don’t need to go overboard!

Here are a few things you’ll need:

  • Their school space set-up
  • Travel journal
  • Bikes or scooters
  • Their own camping gear

24. For The Pets

Travelling with pets comes with its own special set of challenges. Set yourself up with the gear that will make their trip as awesome as yours.

  • A place to sleep
  • A tether
  • collapsable water and food bowls.

So, what have we missed? Comment below with your suggestions…

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