Packing for the Big Lap can be a challenge even for the most experienced of travellers but, in the end, the real skill is not in knowing what to take … it’s knowing what not to take.
Even after multiple extended trips in his 2013 Jayco Starcraft 20 footer, Phil C is the first to admit that he – like most grey nomads – is still learning. Having just completed a trip to Western Australia, from his Adelaide home, the self-confessed gizmo geek says he and wife Pam took more than they needed … yet again!
“Being an ex-electrician I had most of my tools in a tool box that was hardly opened,” he said. “I used the rattle gun on the pegs when we set the awning out and that’s about all.” He says that, as the rig is fully insured, a super well-stocked tool box was probably a heavy addition that he could have done without.
“I wonder how many blacktop breakdowns occur that we, ordinary non- mechanics can actually fix and get rolling again?” he said. “How the heck will our set of spanners, sockets and screwdrivers (which I carry as well) get us out of the deep noo noo?”
Then again, he ponders, maybe these tools might sometimes be able to handle the little issues, rather than big ones that are best left for a tow truck.
“I saw an interesting flow chart on Facebook a while back,” Phil said. “It asked the question ‘is it meant to move? If yes, use WD40, if no use gaffer tape’ … I carry them, as well!”
Nonetheless, there are some pieces of equipment the former sparkie admits he would never cross off his packing list.
“As far as emergency gear like the bottle jack, 12 volt compressor etc, don’t leave town without them,” he advises. “We had a flat tyre at Norseman and the compressor became my best friend. We used the levellers and other caravan comfort stuff. Again, don’t leave town without them.”
As for other packing mistakes in his latest adventure, Phil is quick to point the most damning finger of accusation at the extra toilet that came along the ride.
“We have a portable loo … waste of space!” he says. “With dump points at Border Village (two days from Penong) and three more on the WA side, our loo was well catered for … so the portable loo sat taking up space in the Ute tray.”
But there were other items that didn’t justify their ‘worth bringing just in case’ tag either.
“I didn’t use the shovel as we had no campfires this time,” he said. “And the box of shoes (just in case we go out) was hardly opened … I wore thongs and sand shoes most of the time.”
While Phil is pretty well travelled and has spent a lot of time camping in Western Australia, the last time he actually crossed the Nullarbor was back in 1975 when there was 256 miles of dirt from Eucla to Penong in South Australia!
“We decided to take 50 litres of water with us and all sorts of gear ‘just in case’,” he said.
Also in the rig for the long journey was a large Waeco freezer, a generator and a 12-volt pump for free camp showering … and a box or two of baby wipes for keeping clean on non-showering days.
As he pulls back in to his driveway after another happy and fulfilling adventure, Phil is more certain than ever that the secret to successful packing is research, research, and then a lot more research.
“Some crap is best left behind,” he concludes. “But we live and learn … or so I’m told.”