Get Drive Thru Sites And Double Space Life Hacks and Entertaining Tips for On the Road
Life Hacks and Entertaining Tips for On the Road
The beauty of travel blogs has meant that we’ve been able to learn a lot from those who’ve already set off on adventure. Let’s look at some life hacks that can make the caravanning experience easier for you:
Fill an old plastic milk jug with water and attach a headlamp around it with the light facing inwards. Now you have an inexpensive power source that gives off ample lighting for your toilet or bedroom.
Hang a shoe rack on the back of doors to store cleaning supplies and other small items in the limited space you have.
Tic-Tac spice rack
Different sized rounded bottles take up too much space, so try adding your favourite spices to old Tic-Tac containers, which are easily stacked and take up barely any room.
DIY washing machine
If you don’t have an onboard washing machine, make one using a 18.9 litre bucket (with cover). Fill with water and detergent, add your dirty clothes, and wash using a plunger that has had several holes cut out of it – this is to prevent the clothes from becoming too sudsy.
Instead of having to clean the BBQ every time you use it, try cooking on a sheet of baking paper. Once you’ve finished cooking, simply throw the paper away, and save on time and water.
Awning strut covers
Want to save your toes from hitting awning struts? Simply slice a kid’s pool noodle down on one side and slip over the top to provide padding.
Gear tie locks
Gear ties are great for keeping unlockable cupboard doors closed when travelling.
If you’re worried about your favourite nonstick pans getting scratched up and damaged during transit, simply place a paper plate between them.
Caravan and camping apps
From Australian Road Maps and Camp In, to Fires Near Me, Yelp, and Weather Zone Plus, the world of travel apps has made life on the road a whole lot easier. You can learn everything from the best 4WD routes and favourite campgrounds to how to spot birds and photography tips. For the ultimate road trip app, check out WikiCamps Australia.
Instead of taking your entire toiletry bag with you to the shower, simply place a lanyard around your neck with your most used items attached.
Now that your trip is made smoother with the life hacks, here are some tips to keep you entertained during those long drives.
Name that tune
Play a series of songs and have everyone in the car try to guess the artist and song title as quickly as they can.
The Alphabet Game
Choose a theme and take turns to go through the alphabet, one item at a time. Themes include animals, countries, food, and famous people.
The Rhyming Game
Say a word and see who can find one that rhymes. Score a point for every rhyming word found.
Everyone loves a joke, even the bad ones. In fact, sometimes the worst ones can be the best!
Listen to books on tape
Many popular books come in an audible version, so if reading in the car makes you feel ill, listen to the words instead.
Every child loves a good game of I Spy, and it’s also a great way to see the country. By looking carefully, you really take in your surroundings properly.
Choose a colour and count the number of cars of that colour as they go past. If playing against others, set a time, and the person with the most number of cars when the time is up wins.
Where am I?
Recount some of the places you’ve been on your travels by naming some of the things you did there. See if the other person can guess where you are without you saying the name of the town.
Would you rather?
Would you rather spend a whole day naked or wear the same clothes for a year? Would you rather be rich and ugly or poor and beautiful? Would you rather own a surf camp or a ski lodge? The ‘would you rather’ game is a great way to get some good insight into your fellow passengers.
Write messages using dry erase markers
Write a message using a dry erase marker on the window and see if anyone takes note. Message ideas include ‘nod your head three times’ or ‘poke out your tongue if you like chocolate’.
Preparing for the worst
No matter how much preparation you do before your trip, there’s still a chance that something could go wrong out on the road. Careful planning and regular safety checks will limit your chances of disaster significantly, but you should still prepare yourself in case of an emergency.
Before you leave, make sure you double check the essentials on your vehicle, even if you just checked them the day before. Things to check include:
- Fluid levels (brake, coolant, oil, clutch, automatic transmission, power steering, water);
- Lights (headlights, high-beams, reverse, indicators, brake);
- Windscreen wipers;
- Fan belt;
- Coolant hoses; and
- Tow bar and connections.
You’ll also need to check the essentials on your rig:
- Tow fittings, couplings, and safety chains are correctly fastened;
- Number plate and registration is visible;
- Loads are evenly distributed;
- Electrical connections are secure and lights are working; and
- Trailer brakes.
Even after years of experience, you can still miss a thing or two when hooking and unhooking a caravan or trailer. In creating a checklist you limit the risk of something important being overlooked. Your pre-hookup checklist should include ensuring that:
- Awning is locked;
- Aerial stowed;
- Clothesline stowed;
- Windows closed;
- Top vents closed;
- Inside doors are closed;
- Loose items stored;
- Water pump off;
- Power cord disconnected;
- Water hose disconnected;
- Waste hose disconnected;
- Fridge turned off;
- Hot water system off;
- Support legs removed;
- Step raised; and
- Front door locked.
Your post-hookup checklist should include making sure that:
- Drawbar is securely clipped to tow ball;
- Safety chains are connected;
- Jockey wheel removed;
- Housing retightened;
- Van handbrake off;
- Weight distribution hitch connected;
- Electric brake emergency breakaway cable is connected;
- Wheel chocks are removed; and
- Mirrors connected.
Preparing for your conditions
If heading to a remote location, it’s important to pack these essential items:
- First aid kit;
- Tool kit (jack, winder, wheel brace, spanners, screwdrivers, spare fan belt, hoses, and fuses);
- Tow rope;
- Water, at least 35L;
- Fire extinguisher;
- Shovel, in case of bogging;
- Maps in case the GPS stops working;
- Communication equipment for when you’re out of range;
- High lift jack;
- Snatch straps; and
Preparing for sudden disaster
Knowing how to quickly react to a situation can prevent a major problem from arising. Be sure you know what to do if you suffer from the following:
- Tyre blow out;
- Foot brake failure;
- Shattered windscreen;
- Car stalling; and
Driving at night
Driving at night requires more skill and concentration than at daytime due to your restricted vision. Make sure you’re well rested, and leave a bigger gap between you and the car in front of you to allow for a delayed reaction time.
Generally your caravan or trailer is covered by your car insurance (providing it’s within the legal limit), but this doesn’t always include roadside assistance. If you need towing (especially from out in the sticks), you’ll likely need a premium cover roadside assistance package. If you’re worried you might be ‘oversized’, taking out insurance with the Campervan and Motorhome Group of Australia (CMCA) will ensure that you get towed when and where you need it.
When a caravan begins to sway (technically known as ‘yawing’) due to a gust of wind or sudden movement, it’s usually stabilised with the van’s yaw inertia. If you have an electronic stability control system fitted, even better. But sometimes the sway can be too big to overcome, and that’s when driving skill comes in. Knowing how to react in circumstances like this is vital. Professional caravan driving skills are invaluable on the open road.
Soft, unstable ground isn’t always apparent until you’re stuck in it, and it’s easy to lose traction. If you react the wrong way, your tyres will spin you into further trouble, and you’ll quickly find yourself bogged. Should this happen:
- Resist the urge to panic;
- Apply the handbrake, put the vehicle in park, turn off the engine, and get out of the car to gauge the situation;
- If in sand or loose soil, partially deflate your tyres to help them gain grip before gently trying to drive out;
- If not successful, lower the jockey wheel, unhitch the caravan, and try again;
- If there’s still no movement, collect sticks, rocks, and foliage and dig the earth around the bogged tyres;
- Place a board under the lift jack to raise the tyre and fill the gap with foliage and sticks to help create a solid foundation;
- Once your tow vehicle is clear, use a winch to pull the caravan to safe ground.
It’s important to load your rig correctly to ensure it tows well. Be sure to:
- Keep the centre of gravity low by putting heavy items near the floor and, where possible, over the axle/s;
- Keep the weight within Aggregate Trailer Mass/Gross Vehicle Mass and ball load limits;
- Balance out heavy loads;
- Reduce weight as much as possible;
- Install rubber matting or foam on shelves to stop items from sliding; and
- Carry safety tools in an easy-to-reach spot.
The more research you do, the better your trip will be, so start hitting up forums and designated caravanning sites to learn some handy tips. To get you started, here are a few of our favourite final travel tips:
- Download and read the eBook Driving Around Australia: The Ultimate Guide by Car and Caravan;
- Visit the Grey Nomads website;
- Enrol in a tow-safety driving course;
- Install roof racks to remove some of the weight from your camper;
- Pack lots of rope – you can never have too much rope;
- Consider converting your 12v lighting to LED lighting, which is brighter and more economical;
- Consider joining a caravan club to meet people with similar interests and experience;
- Take time when purchasing your rig;
- Familiarise yourself with some great ‘on the road’ recipes;
- Create a checklist for everything;
- Make use of travel apps;
- Stick to your budget;
- Share the wheel and take a break every few hours;
- Don’t drive more than 400 km in a day;
- Don’t be too rigid with your schedule, spontaneity is half the fun; and
- Ask other campers about free camping spots and any recommendations.
Have fun and enjoy exploring our beautiful country!
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