A whole different way of camping

Up to now, camping has been a balancing act.

You balance the things you want and need against the space or carrying capacity available. I’ve backpacked; I don’t enjoy the weightlifting involved. I’ve camped with a bicycle and panniers, a motorbike and trailer, and with a car. In all these cases, you have to discard things because there’s no space for them, often things you later wish you had. It’s mostly a case of cramming things into every available corner.

laundry-bagsMiz Lizzie has changed all that. I have places for things, permanent places. One of the most refreshing changes is clothes and laundry. We have a wardrobe, and drawers, for goodness’ sake. When I realised this morning that dirty laundry no longer had to be hung outside the tent in a skimpy plastic bag till I could deal with it, I made us each (drum roll) a laundry bag! To hang inside the wardrobe door on a hook, and corral all the mis-matched socks, used underwear and sweaty shirts, so that Miz Lizzie stays tidy, clean and pleasant-smelling.

pocket-hangingAnd remember I said I’d tell you another time what I did with the pockets from the jeans I cut up for rug yarn? It’s another ‘stuff’-corralling item, some-where to put all those bits and pieces that otherwise get put down, forgotten and lost. It’ll hang inside by the door, or possible on the back of the door itself, so you can find the torch easily in the middle of the night when you have to go to the loo, or you need your car keys or sun-screen before you head out. It’s not especially beautiful or straight – old denim can be a bit baggy to work with – but it is useful, and made from a recycled pair of jeans and a fabric remnant for which I paid $3.

Our first outing is on Saturday. I’m in a frenzy of list-making now that I have space to play with. With the bike and trailer I knew what I had and could take. This is a whole new ball game – does anyone out there have any gems of good advice or experience I could benefit from?

But it’s still better to take too little than too much, wouldn’t you say?


47 thoughts on “A whole different way of camping

  1. tialys says:

    After years of trying to cram things into a cabin bag for flights in these days of economy airlines and security measures, my mantra is ‘don’t forget the credit card’. That way you can replace anything you’ve forgotten or didn’t have room for. With all your careful planning I’m sure you’ll be fine but there will always be something you’ll have forgotten or think would have been useful – you can use this first trip as a practice run.

    • katechiconi says:

      It was the same sort of thing with feet, bicycle and motorbike camping, but with a ‘van, you’re pretty much taking home with you. I’m unlikely to take too much, but I don’t really want to buy anything I already have three of!

  2. Have a lovely trip – I’m sure things will occur to you whilst you are away and you’ll think “why didn’t I consider that’? After the first time, it will be plain sailing 🙂

  3. nanacathy2 says:

    Agh, caravan packing can be a nightmare too, don’t forget nose weight! I got very cross that I had wonderful storage but couldn’t use it because of nose weight. Have a wondeful time and I love the wall tidy!

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s similar to packing the bike trailer: all the heaviest stuff over the axle! We’re taking only a smidge of water in the tanks, all the food will be in the fridge (over axle) or midline storage, and as it’s hot this time of year, we won’t need a lot of bedding. Minimal tools, deep cycle battery, etc, all over axle. We’re not away for long, so won’t need to take too much… I kind of love that wall tidy myself, I hate throwing out perfectly good stuff, and it’s something we needed anyway!

  4. The pockets hanger is a great idea. We saw quite a few vans with them hanging off the inside door. Good for privacy too. Less is more but things happen… Our most useful creations were a tie around the papertowel roll to keep it from unravelling, hooks & occy strap to keep the fridge shut, storage baskets & non-slip shelf liners. You’ll be able to tweak after your first trip.

    • katechiconi says:

      The fridge has a door clip, I already have the roll of non-slip matting and many, many storage boxes with lids, but I hadn’t considered the implications of a bumpy ride on the paper towel roll! Thank you for the tip! We’ve also bought some Velcro® type tape for fixing things to walls and surfaces temporarily, like power boards, 2-way charger, etc.

  5. Paperback books! I can’t travel without a few books in reserve. They’re lightweight and once you finish you can leave them somewhere for another reader to find.

  6. kathyreeves says:

    We only car/tent camp, so I would be just like you! Make sure you have a little notebook so that when you do think of something you can write it down? And maybe a rainy day activity you can invite your new friends to participate in, like cards or something

  7. claire93 says:

    this will be your trial trip – you certainly sound as if you’ve thought of most essentials.

    • katechiconi says:

      I just have visions of realising halfway through making dinner on the first night that I’ve forgotten the salt, or a wooden spoon… Never mind, I shall improvise if that happens!

  8. dayphoto says:

    So much fun ahead for you! YAY!

  9. Always have your medications, and always have hand sanitizer and a roll of toilet paper. It’s nice to have a toothbrush, too, but if you forget, no one will die because of it. 😉 We try to travel light, so if it were me, I’d take as little as possible this first time and adjust up, rather than take too much and adjust down.

  10. ladyredspecs says:

    We were winter grey nomads for a number of years, heading into remote areas to explore. On returning after these trips I always removed the things from the van I didn’t use, just in space takes space. A rubber band will keep the paper towel rolled. Old sock and stubby holders are great for protecting glass bottles and jars, and be careful what you pack aluminium cans with. It doesn’t take much vibration for a hole to wear through. Insect repellant, fly spray and mozzie coils are essentials

    • katechiconi says:

      The beer will travel in the car fridge to keep weight down, I have a Velcro strip for the paper towel, I won’t be taking any aluminium cans, and we have the insect spray stuff on the list. I’m doing better than I feared with this list! Thanks for your help 🙂

  11. magpiesue says:

    I can offer no new suggestions, only my best wishes for a good trip!

  12. Lynda says:

    Kate, you do know that I am taking notes and storing them up for our adventures when we get to go. What a clever use for your old pockets! Nothing goes to waste. 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      I have one more jeans leg to cut up and then I’m calling it a day on the denim mat – it’s very hard on the hands… Do you want my ‘van packing list, too? Happy to email it!

      • Lynda says:

        Yes, please!

        I rather imagined that the mat making would be hard on the hands. That’s why I am excited about the peg loom!

      • katechiconi says:

        I want to make us an outdoor mat using plarn. Trouble is, I don’t have nearly enough plastic bags any more, as we always go shopping with re-usable bags these days. I only get plastic on the rare occasions when what I’ve bought is too big for my own bags…

      • Lynda says:

        Ask your neighbors for theirs? I would! 😉

      • katechiconi says:

        I can try, but one’s an older lady who gets things delivered in boxes, and the other is a single man and dog, and I don’t see him with many bags… I may have to ask the family.

  13. I have no helpful tips on this subject! Love the matching laundry bags – is there a His and Hers on them? 🙂
    Oh, just a thought – backgammon?

    • katechiconi says:

      No, they’re the same. That way I don’t have to make sure I put the right empty bag in the right cupboard! Neither of us knows how to play backgammon, either…. I think we’ll stick to books and cards.

  14. Chris S in Canada says:

    Oh this is so exciting! We are still at the tent camping stage, but I think that will need to change soon. I have a couple boxes on a basement shelf of the things I don’t want to have to pack every time we go.

    If you’re worried about forgetting the salt or wooden spoon or something you could try this. As you make your next few meals in the kitchen, look at the things you use every day. If you have an extra one, pop it in a box. If you don’t, put it on the shopping list (along with a container if it needs one) and put those things in the box once you’ve got them. Then take the box out to Miz Lizzie and put everything away in your 2nd kitchen. This helped me with the essentials. And you can do the same thing in the bathroom – look at what you use every day and duplicate it in a pretty little carry bag that can stay in the van for the daily trip to the bathroom block.

    When the time comes, I hope we’re able to find as lovely a camper as you have. I look forward to making it homey and comfortable for our adventures.

    Chris S in Canada

    • katechiconi says:

      Hello, and what a lovely comment! I have an extensive packing list and have spent the last two days slowly working my way through it. We actually have MORE storage than we need for the basics; where I’m going to be short of space is for fresh food, as I cook everything from scratch and the fridge is pretty small. We’ve learned loads in the last few days – watch this space!

  15. I love your denim pocket hanger! Too cute and practical to boot. At my age, camping is a hotel without room service but I did my share of camping when my kids were young. It was fun and we learned to makeshift the things we needed. You will have so much fun with your camper it will be hard to contain your joy. Looking forward to hearing all about it.

  16. rutigt says:

    I always take too much!

  17. You are far braver than I am. The closest to camping I plan to do in future is motels!
    Great use of the jeans pockets.

    • katechiconi says:

      Well, as we lolled around on our comfortable beds, with good reading lights, aircon and cold drinks in the fridge, catching up with the latest blog posts on tablet and laptop, I’d say we had a bit of an advantage over a motel. Our own pillows, a ready supply of snacks, and no neighbours taking a shower and crashing around at unearthly hours of the morning.

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