Saving some money while travelling is always welcome and free camps are the best ways to do it. With such a fantastic choice, it’s impossible not to stay at least a night while on your Big Lap.
Free camps are often picturesque, secluded spots with not many amenities. To have the best time while staying for free, you need to get prepared. Even if you don’t plan on using free camps as your primary stay, it’s always a good idea to be self-contained.
Take a look at our honourable mentions and spot what you’re missing. Don’t cut yourself short – you don’t need some special skills to use free camps. Come prepared, and you’ll have a perfect time.
Water is one of the essentials that determine the length of your stay at a place. Since free camps don’t always feature access to water, you need to bring some with you. RVs, caravans, or motorhomes have a freshwater tank capacity from 75 to 380 litres. Depending on the size of your tanks and your travel group, you might need some extra water storage
2. Water Bladders
Water bladders are versatile and convenient for your personal drinking water. They can fit anywhere in your car or caravan and can store 3, 5 or more litres. When empty, they’re flat and don’t take up any space.
3. Collapsible Water Containers
Plastic water bottles are a real hassle and not a safe option for a repetitive fill-up. Collapsible water containers are a better choice. They’re handy when you need to store some extra water, easy to carry in hand, and easy to pack in your backpack for transporting water from outside the camp.
4. Drinking Water Hose
Be aware that you can’t use your green garden hose for drinking water. Look for a PVC-free hose made from polyurethane or natural rubber. Hoses explicitly designed for drinking water don’t contain any toxic material and prevent the transfer of bacteria.
5. Water Pump
Water pumps are handy when you’re staying near a natural water source that’s good for drinking or general use, and fill up is allowed. The pump will extract water from the river to your tank, saving you time and money.
6. 4 Way Tap Handle
Due to vandalism and overall irresponsible campers, sometimes water taps are removed. To have access to water at all places, purchase a 4-way tap handle for less than $20. You can then turn on any faucet – with or without a tap and fill up!
7. Solar Panels or Blankets
Power is another essential you’ll need to secure before staying at a free camp. Free camps rarely have power outlets, and you have to have your own power source. Solar panels are a good source of power that gets mounted on the roof of your caravan. But some camps don’t have enough sunny spots, and when parked under shade, your panels can’t provide enough power. Here’s where solar blankets can come in handy. They’re mobile, can be spread anywhere where there’s sun, even metres from your RV.
Batteries are becoming a popular choice of power for camping. AGM Deep Cycle batteries are the traditional choice since they’re common and cheap. However, lithium batteries are more lightweight, and you can use more of the stored energy. If you choose batteries, you’d also need a battery charger and a battery management system.
Generators are the standard noise-producing device in free camps. Camps often have limited hours when you’re allowed to run your generator to keep others undisturbed. Generators are a good option for portable power, but they run on fuel. So if you’re relying on the generator for power, you need to have a full canister at all times.
10. On-Board Toilet Cassette
Most free camps require you to be self-contained, meaning you need to have a toilet on board. If your camper doesn’t come with a bathroom, you can install a cassette toilet. It’s a tiny self-contained plastic toilet with no pipes coming in or out. It has a bowl, seat, and lid just like any other toilet, but it can be harder to empty.
11. Portable Toilet
While the cassette toilet is permanently attached to your camper, a portable toilet is more versatile. You can move the porta-potty anywhere, into another RV, or even onto your boat. But, again, the similarity lies in the storage – both toilets have a removable dump tank.
12. Grey Water Tank
Don’t confuse it with the black water tank – your toilet tank. Grey water is any water coming from washing dishes or showering. Unfortunately, most camps don’t allow you to dispose of grey water on the spot, so you need to have a grey water tank attached to your camper.
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13. Rear Wheel Bin
Free camps don’t always provide trash cans. However, we hope you’re keen on not leaving a trace behind, so a rear-wheel bin will come in handy. Then, instead of keeping your trash inside the camper or filling up your trunk, you just put the bags in the container attached to your rear wheel. Once you get the chance, you empty it and are ready for another round!
14. Large Rubbish Bags
Large rubbish bags are something you must have on hand at any time during your travels. In free camps especially, you’re faced with no trash cans, and you’ll have no place to store your rubbish for a few days if you don’t bring at least bin bags.
15. Equipped Camp Kitchen
The term equipped can be versatile; what’s well equipped for some can be too much for others. For comfortable free camping, make sure to have all essential appliances and enough cookware. Also, don’t forget to consider low water supplies and variable power sources.
16. Outdoor Cooking Gear
Free camps have one major perk – free barbeques! They’re probably the most helpful camp content when it comes to cooking. But there are also fire pits and campfires which can help you prepare a delicious camp dinner. To make use of them, get outdoor-safe cookware like a cast iron skillet and fish basket for grilling your fresh catch.
When hitting free camps for an extended time, you’ll have to stock up on groceries. A larger fridge is a must if you don’t want your food going bad or worse – drinking warm beer! There are a variety of sizes for all types of caravans and RVs.
Nothing says camp nights like a nice fire pit, and free camps have plenty of them. You can usually gather dead wood, and knowing your way around a chainsaw and axe can help you tremendously. A shovel is another tool you must pack; you’ll probably need it to bury some trash.
19. Wheel Clamps, Hitches & Security Chains
While there aren’t many reasons you shouldn’t feel safe in a free camp, you need to take a couple of safety measures. Especially if you plan on unhooking your caravan and hitting the local attractions for the day, get wheel clamps and hitches. Also, it might be best to avoid staying at a camp that’s empty at the end of the day.
20. Alarm System & Tracking Device
Staying at free camps comes with some doubt, and experienced campers know that. Make sure to check with your insurance about their policy on staying at free camps. They might require some extra precautions like an alarm system and a GPS tracker.
21. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is a must for all campers, but staying at a free camp means limited access to fast medical service. So pack enough first aid supplies to cover any minor inconvenience in case there’s no one around to assist you.
Free camping comes with limited amenities, and a fully lighted up camping area is not always available. You might need to light up your way to the toilets. Bring rechargeable torches for each member of your travel group so everyone can manage on their own around the camp.
23. Insect Repellent
Picking a free camp during the day might come with some trouble later. Mozzies and sandflies are most active after dark, and you don’t want to meet them unprepared. Choose a strong repellent and bring a few extra bottles.
24. Tent & Swag
Rooftop tents are relatively safer than sleeping on the ground, not to mention the view they can provide. They’re also easy to fold and pack, so bringing one might come in handy. Swags are another great way to spend the night under the stars, especially if you’re staying at a free walk-in mountain camp.
25. Camping Chairs
Even though most free camps have picnic tables with benches, nothing replaces the comfort of your own camping chair. Choose durable chairs with built-in footrests to enjoy your beer at the end of the day.
26. Cash for Donations
Show your gratitude towards the communities and volunteers that maintain the free camps. Shop locally while staying at a particular free camp and carry some cash to leave in their donation box.
27. Free Camps Locator
So what’s the next step? If you’re all set for free camping, search through our free camp guides for each region and mark your favourites! We’ve picked the best ones, listed the facilities you can expect and the time you can spend without paying a cent.