By Road & Track
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By Road & Track

On the road…

10 points on touring in a minivan

This article was originally published in 2017.

On the way to Great Lake on the Central Plateau, a minivan on Tasmania’s Western Tiers.

THE EDITOR gave me an assignment. Write ten pertinent points about something.

Ten points? About what? I thought for a minute, then it came to me. Why not ten points about travel in a minivan? We toured in one in Tasmania and I was mulling over thoughts about it in my head. Maybe, I thought, writing ten points about minivan touring would clarify those thoughts.

We went there to visit family and friends and I wanted to show Fiona, my partner, more of this island where I spent years during an earlier phase of my life.

Travel to and in the island state

For those who do not know, Tasmania is a large island of almost 400,000 people, 200km across the sometimes rough Bass Strait off Australia’s south-east coast. The nearest big city is Melbourne, on the Australian mainland.

Getting from Melbourne to Devonport, where the car ferry berths in Tasmania, is expensive. You have to book your vehicle on the ferry then drive to Melbourne. That’s around a 1000km drive from Sydney. Tour over, its the same journey in reverse. With limited time for our journey, hiring a minivan in Launceston, northern Tasmania, and flying over was a more realistic proposition.

I don’t recall why we never booked a full-size van. I think none were available on the dates we would be in Tasmania or they were too expensive to hire for that time. So, we chose a minivan, a Kia Carnivale, a cheaper option.

We were not new to travel in vans, having owned a 1960s Kombi and a Mitsubishu L300. We also travelled in a large station wagon.

The Kia

Before getting to my ten points, let me say a few words about the Kia minivan (that’s it in the photo at the top of this article).

This is not your full-size van. It is more a cross between a large, higher-roofed station wagon and a minivan. There’s headroom, although you cannot stand up. The hire vehicle came with a not-so-comfortable mattress that folds out. It also has a little table to set up inside and a kitchen accessed through the tailgate.

The Kia was supplied with a roof pod which we made minimal use of. It carried our packs, the two supplied camping chairs and table and little else. An awning provided shelter from the rain at Adventure Bay on Bruny Island but received little additional use. Cooking and eating utensils and a butane-powered Coleman twin-burner stove were included, as was a water container. Sheets, blankets and pillows come with the hire, however we left these with the hire company as we had our own sleeping bags and kit.

The 35 litre refrigerator was boon and pain. Without a second battery in the minivan to power the thing, at unpowered and bush campsites we would detach it from its 12v vehicle power supply and move it from the rear of the vehicle to the front seat where, overnight, it maintained its coolth, unpowered. If at a caravan park powered site we plugged in the supplied inverter to power it from the 240v mains supply. In the morning, we moved it back to the rear of the van. It was good having a refrigerator, something we have not used on road trips before, but a hassle to move it back and forth every night and morning. When we acquired our VW minivan we installed the same size refrigerator and connected it to a second, lithium-ion battery charged from the alternator via an isolation switch.

Size-wise, with the area behind the front seats serving for eating and sleeping, the Kia minivan was just large enough for two.

The vehicle got us around Tasmania’s paved and all-weather-gravel roads without great effort. A heavy vehicle with a three litre engine, the Kia is something of a fuel hog. It is easy to spin the wheels when starting until you get used to the power. It has the feel of driving a bulky vehicle. For getting around Tasmania with its winding an sometimes narrow roads it was a little overpowered.

The Kia was minimal as a camper, yet basic, functional and good enough for a few weeks on the road.

A somewhat bulky vehicle to drive, the Kia was functional and offered minimalist accommodation. The awning proved useful to shelter from showers and hot sun. The folding table and chairs were supplied with the vehicle and are useful additions to any car camping kit. Curtains inside the vehicle provided a degree of privacy in caravan parks.


I’m going to make a few suggestions about touring in a minivan and what to pack for vehicle-based road trips spanning several days to a couple months.

My specific reference will be Tasmania, however much the same applies to road trips on the Australian mainland. Tasmania has a cool temperate climate with highland snow in winter, cold and strong winds and summer days varying from hot (high 20s, low 30s C) to cold when a strong south-westerly is blowing off the Southern Ocean.

I refer mostly to road trips in a van or a minivan or, for the hardy, in a large-enough station wagon. An ordinary sedan car would do were it equipped with one of those pop-up rooftop tents or if road trippers were happy to erect a tent each night. On our journey we came across two young women camping in a medium-size station wagon in the back of which they had made a cramped sleeping platform with storage below. Minimalist for sure, but economic travel nonetheless. It demonstrated how converting the vehicle you already own is an economic means of acquiring an adventure vehicle.

On tents, a bushwalking tent or a compact car camping tent can be a useful adjunct to vehicle-based accommodation. In good weather it makes a pleasant change from sleeping in the vehicle. If you plan overnight bushwalks then you will already be packing a small tent. Erecting a tent in a popular camping area while you drive your vehicle to the start of a walking track deters other campers setting up in your space.

A small, lightweight tent like this Australian made, One Planet Goondie 2 provides alternative accommodation at campsites and while bushwalking.

I write for those who can live for weeks at a time with only the basics, and few of them at that. Acceptance of living in a small space, of cooking and spending time outside despite the weather, and putting up with a lack of amenities are other starting conditions for my recommendations.

Readers should remember that we have different needs when it comes to the equipment and clothing we travel with, the food we prefer and the conditions we find comfortable. The equipment we pack are what my partner and I find useful. We are minimalist in our needs on the road and choose equipment that is multifunctional.

What you want to do on your road trip will influence what you bring. Do you want to go mountain biking? Canoeing? Surfing? Photographing? Day walking? Multi-day bushwalking? Those will require specialised equipment and a means of transporting that equipment in or on the vehicle.

So, now that I have set the context, here’s ten ideas stemming from a couple recent Tasmanian journeys and road trips on the Australian mainland.

The ten ideas

1. Take only essentials

If you plan to road trip in a van or minivan, and especially if you plan to travel by station wagon or sedan, there is no space for anything other than essentials.

By essentials I mean:

  • a minimum of clothing chosen for the expected weather conditions you are likely to encounter; include warm clothing even in summer in Tasmania and southern Australia — my light down puff jacket came in useful on some summer nights in Tasmania; bring a waterproof jacket
  • a means of carrying food, cooking and eating it where you camp
  • sleeping bags
  • small first aid kit
  • a minimum of specialised equipment for what you want to indulge in such as bushwalking kit, camera and lenses, wetsuit, boogie board etc
  • mobile phone with a map app, national parks guide and Wikicamps downloaded
  • a wash kit to keep you clean; if free camping, you might go a few days without a shower.

As on other road trips, my partner carried her stuff in a pack of around 60 litres capacity, a lightweight top-loader made by Australian company, One Planet, a company known for their tough equipment.

We both brought daypacks that served as cabin luggage on the flights, for shopping for food and daywalks.

I packed all of my kit in an old, zip-opening duffel bag that I have used for years. Being soft sided I can cram it into tight spaces. The zip opening gives convenient access to what is inside. I don’t know its capacity but I would guess it at somewhere around 65 litres. There was still room inside even when all my stuff was packed.

On other journeys I found a 40 litre panel-opening travel pack convenient to live out of. A One Planet model, its handle, shoulder strap and pack straps provide easy carry options and the panel opening makes it access what is inside. Packs like this are appropriate for vehicle-based travel and I have seen people using those with a proper pack harness for overnight bushwalks.

For our recent journeys I took my LowPro photographer’s daypack. I have used this for years and the reason I like it is because it has a side-opening, padded camera compartment in the bottom. You need only unsling the right-side strap and the pack swings from your left shoulder where you can easily access your camera in the padded side-access compartment.

2. Set a vector rather than detailed travel plans

We don’t make bookings at serviced campsites and we sometimes bush camp in free, informal camping areas. This allows us to set a vector — a rough direction of travel — rather than a fixed destination necessitating a timetable. Doing so allows spontaneity. If we like a place we can overnight there. If we find what looks like an interesting bushwalk we can do it. If we like the look of a town or decide to stop for food or a coffee we are free to do that without worrying about having time to get to that night’s accommodation booking. With no fixed destination each day we are free to look and linger.

Without bookings there’s the risk of campsites being full. That is only in peak holiday times — January in Tasmania when the mainlanders come over. We have not had difficulty in finding a space in commercial campsite at that time of year. The risk turns out to be a small price for the freedom of loosly-structured travel that allows for whim-of-the-moment deviations.

3. Set travel times to accommodate your interests

Like photography? Bushwalking? Mountain biking? Canoeing? Botanising? Surfing? Snorkelling? Lounging on the beach? Want to indulge your interest in history, ecology, geology or geography? Best, then, to plan to accommodate these as you travel.

How do you do this? You might have locations you plan to stop off at for which you have already allocated time, but then there are those you encounter on the way. Start the day early, make breakfast and a strong coffee to stimulate your brain chemistry and leave early. Doing that builds into your day the spare time that permits stopping and doing those things. There is less opportunity for this sort of spontaneity if you have a booking at a campsite or motel that evening.

Early starts on our road trip opened the time to stop and spend time at places we liked. We were careful not to overplan our journey. If anything, we underplanned so we could be more spontaneous with places to go and how much time to spend in them.

The table was dismantled to unfold the mattress at night. I carried my clothing in the green canvas duffel bag which proved okay for living out of. At night, the refrigerator was removed from the rear to the front seats and, where there was power, run through an inverter.

4. Cook where you camp

Eating at cafes eats into your budget. Cooking where you camp avoids that. Why not take a small cooker, a pot and small frypan, eating utensils and some food and cook where evening finds you? Keep the restaurant or cafe meals as a treat or for when you are so tired after a day on the road that cooking isn’t really an option.

The Jetboil cookset was less hassle than setting up the two-burner butane stove supplied with the vehicle. We used it more frequently.

So, what’s the minimum you need? That depends on whether you are a solo traveller, whether you travel as a couple, as a family or group of friends. Add utensils and food quantity accordingly.

Here’s the kit we took on our Tasmanian road trips…

The minvan was supplied with a two-burner butane stove and spare cartridges. Were I buying something like this I would go for the single-burner butane cartridge stove because of its compactness, although the two-burner makes it possible to cook with two pots at once, something you might do, perhaps, for a more elaborate meal. I understand there’s about two hours of fuel in the cartridge used by the single-burner stoves. I would find some way of opening the empty cartridge to release any remaining pressure so it could go into the metals recycling stream.

The Kia with kitchen. The kitchen was useful, but too large.

Double or single burner, refillable LP gas stoves avoid the waste of empty gas cartridges. The Swedish Trangia cooksets that burn alcohol, what we in Australia know as methylated spirits, are popular among bushwalkers, motorcycle and vehicle travellers. Metho burns cooler than LP and butane gas. You will need a spillproof bottle for carrying the metho if taking the Trangia bushwalking. The cooksets come with a brass, adjustable output burner, a couple cookpots, a pot lifter and a frypan that doubles as a pot lid. Other utensils are available.

We brought our bushwalking cooker with us. A compact Jetboil MiniMo, the burner of which fits into its one litre pot, the stove is known for its thermal efficiency and conservative fuel consumption. It is light and compact, suitable for overnight bushwalks and for making a trailside coffee or hot packet soup on daywalks (we find miso soup or a vegetable soup powder warms us on cold lunchtime stops). The Coleman two-burner was a hassle to set up at times, so we used the Jetboil more often.

We used the Jetboil on a road trip in Tasmania on a previous trip when we were were travelling in a small car and tenting at night. Its simplicity of use and compactness were its virtues.

We kept eating equipment to a minimum on our road trip. It is much like we take for vehicle-based travel on the mainland:

  • bowl (Sea to Summit silicon-sided, folding bowls) and cup each (Sea to Summit silicon-sided, folding cups)
  • knife/fork/spoon each (or a knife and spork)
  • a flat, enamel plate to serve food from
  • small bowl for mixing salad/pasta and serving from
  • polypropylene cutting board
  • a longer spoon to stir whatever we are cooking
  • small breadknife
  • small paring knife suitable for slicing veges and other foods; we take an Opinel 8, a wooden-handled folding knife with stainless steel blade; also useful is a Victorinox table knife with serrated blade and plastic handle available in kitchenware stores
  • small silicon tongs for lifting food
  • a folding spatula
  • combined can and bottle opener
  • two collapsible, steel mesh toasters which are good for toasting bread that is starting to go stale
  • a Sea To Summit, folding, nylon washing-up bowl
  • a brush for cleaning eating and cooking utensils and a small bottle of biodegradable dishwashing liquid
  • a couple tea towels for drying cooking equipment.

A jaffle iron would be another useful kitchen tool with which you can easily make a nutritionally balanced meal.

That is all we need for vehicle-based travel. On our Tasmania journey utensils were supplied.

For really minimalist trips we use our bushwalking cooking kit:

  • Jetboil Mini-mo stove with its 1 litre capacity pot
  • a collapsible silicon cup each (Sea to Summit)
  • a couple small, folding nylon bowls that come with lids that serve as flat plates useful for slicing vegetables on (Sea to Summit)
  • a titanium knife, fork and spoon set.

The minivan we hired came with far more cooking and eating utensils than we would ever need.

5. Lighting

Even when you set up your vehicle at a powered campsite (what Americans call a ‘trailer park’ but Australians know as a ‘caravan park’) you might find you need light inside your vehicle and for cooking outside. We avoid running the interior light because it drains the started battery.

We both pack a Black Diamond headlamp. Part of our bushwalking kit, the advantage of the headlamp is that it leaves our hands free and illuminates wherever we look. I also pack a small Goal Zero torch/lamp that runs off a single, rechargeable AA cell that can be stood on a flat surface or hung as a lantern. It offers plenty of illumination inside a vehicle or tent.

The Biolite mini-lantern plugs into its battery. Two lamps are joined together in the photo.

Our Biolite mini-lantern proved useful throughout our Tasmanian road trips. We charged its battery via the Biolite solar panel or from mains power when staying at caravan parks. It can also be charged from the vehicle’s power outlet via the supplied microUSB cable. Capable or running at half or full power, the lamp produced enough light at half power to illuminate the inside of the minivan. It connects to a couple small LED lights that can be hung inside the vehicle or strung outside if eating at a table. The lamp’s USB outlet allowed us to recharge our iPhones on the road.

6. Power

A small battery to recharge your mobile phone or tablet is worth the expense if you camp away from an electrical connection. Something like an iPad (we travel with an iPhone each and one iPad) or an equivalent Android device will require a larger battery than your phone. A battery around 7500 to 10,000 milliamps will be adequate for charging phones two or more times. Goal Zero make larger capacity powerbanks that recharge iPads and laptop computers.

To recharge a laptop or camera batteries from a vehicle’s 12 volt power output, an inverter will be needed.

7. Food

Yes, you need to eat on the road. You can replicate the same balanced diet you have at home.

The key to successful campsite cooking is basic, fast-cooking foods that are easy to prepare. Fast-cooking means less fuel used. Basic implies you can combine different ingredients, or, if not, add herbs, spices or sauces so that the same meal you had last night tastes different tonight.

The Sea To Summit foldable silicon bowls have a rigid base useful as a small cutting board. They are light enough to pack for bushwalking if you prefer not to eat from your cooking vessel.

Basic foods that keep well are best for road tripping. On our minivan tour we ate meusli for breakfast. It provided the carbohydrates to sustain us through the day. We added fresh fruit we bought along the way and milk (powdered if you have no refrigeration in the minivan, or fresh milk stored in a cool box) or fruit juice. Tea or brewed coffee, of course, made with a Sea to Summit silicon filter.

Lunch might be bread that we bought in a town we passed through. Look for a local bakery, however in some rural towns don’t expect much variety or breads like sourdough or rye. Often, all you can get are versions of sliced white. Ironically for those who prefer to avoid supermarkets, they often offer the best bread choice in some county towns. Alternatively, lunch might be crispbread biscuits with cheese, peanut butter, honey or, for Australians and connoisseur of fine food everywhere, Vegemite. The latter three require no refrigeration and also make good bushwalking fare (Vegemite can also be stirred into hot water to make a soup). Dinner could be fast-cooking basmati rice, the smaller (faster cooking) pasta or noodles with vegetables (if fresh are unavailable, try dried). We might add tuna from a can or tofu or tempeh stored in the refrigerator.

If your minivan has a small refrigerator then your choice of fresh foods is greater. Our hired minivan came with a fridge that ran off the vehicle’s power outlet while driving and kept veges, fruit juice, tofu, miso for soup, tempeh and milk cool.

The Jetboil with its larger, 1.5l pot (the 1l pot that comes with the device is at left) is really all you need for cooking on the road. Get the empty can piercer to release any residual gas from the cartridge so it can go into metal recycling. Don’t forget to buy some extra gas cartridges.

For successful though basic culinary adventures while travelling by minivan, in addition to easy-to-prepare and fast-cooking basic foods, I suggest a folding table, a couple folding chairs and a tarp as an awning. Our minivan had the advantage of a small table that could be set up inside although we used the folding table outside more often. The vehicle was fitted with an easy-to-unfurl tarp that sheltered the side of the vehicle, folding table and chairs.

The minivan was equipped with a kitchenette far larger than we needed and with utensils far more numerous than we would otherwise take. A kitchenette like this in not needed at all. Carrying your cooking kit in a small storage box and food in another is a functional solution we have used on other trips. The drop-down rear door of the unit proved useful for food preparation although a folding table would provide the same utility. The space taken by the kitchenette could be used for other purposes.

8. Clothing

Clothing is selected according to the climate you will travel in, the season and the weather you anticipate.

Obviously, in the cooler times of year what you pack will differ to the warmer months. Think of clothing as something to keep you warm, something to block the wind, something to keep you comfortable in hot weather, something to keep you dry.

Living out of a van or minivan is not the time for nice, fashionable clothing. That’s for the city, if at all. What you need is hardy outdoor clothes such as you might wear travelling or bushwalking. This should include:

  • several, at least five, changes of underwear because you don’t know when you will find a laundromat (alternatively, hand wash in camp and dry there, or spread wet clothing in the vehicle to dry while you drive)
  • several Tshirts (I always include a couple merino wool Tshirts that are suitable for walking in the Tasmanian mountains where cold, rainy weather can come in suddenly; unlike some synthetics, merino can be worn for days because it doesn’t retain odour as much as synthetics; you can also buy merino undies and socks)
  • one, maybe two synthetic, long sleeve shirts that roll up small for packing and that dry quickly after washing
  • three pair of long, synthetic, traveller’s trousers; a pair of shorts is useful in warmer months; if you are going surfing your board shorts will do
  • swimmers
  • a lightweight wool or fleece pullover or jacket
  • a lightweight windproof jacket
  • waterproof jacket and, especially for bushwalking in the mountains, a pair of waterproof overtrousers
  • a cap or hat as well as a beanie in case of cold weather
  • shoes and sandals
  • a bandana to use as a sweat rag while walking, as an emergency wound dressing or as a general purpose cloth
  • pair of slip-on sandals for wearing around bush camps where there are no biting ants or blood-sucking leaches, for wearing in caravan parks and to wear for showering at dodgy-looking caravan parks.

Here’s our own standard travel kit for travel on the south-eastern mainland and in Tasmania:

  • cotton (three) and merino wool (two) Tshirts
  • one long sleeve nylon shirt; my partner wears a white shirt in hot weather as it reflects sunlight and, she claims, is cooler than a dark colour, plus a medium blue shirt; I wear medium blue or a dark colour as those colours show dirt less than lighter colours; roll up the sleeves in hot weather, roll them down to avoid sunburn; the shirts also double as a windproof top in moderate winds
  • three pair of long, synthetic trousers; choose grey or a darker khaki as those colours show dirt less than lighter colours
  • a pair of shorts (boardshorts will serve and are also useful for surfing, swimming or snorkeling)
  • swimmers (there’s nothing like the refreshing and reinvigorating feeling of a dip in the surf or in a lake at the end of a hot, sweaty day of driving or as a substitute for a shower or sponge bath)
  • a thin merino wool pullover
  • a fleece pullover
  • for bushwalking, city of gereral wear, I take a Patagonia Nano-Puff jacket which, if needed, can be worn on cold bushwalks though it is more for putting on when you stop than for wearing on the move when it can be too warm; consider a model with a hood as it is through your head that much heat is lost; for milder conditions consider a down or synthetic-fill vest
  • a superlight, supercompact (packs into its own pocket) windproof that we each take is the Patagonia Houdini nylon jacket with a hood; this is good over a Tshirt for mild and windy or chilly days on the coast or in the mountains
  • for wet weather, a waterproof (and breathable, though there are limits to the breathability of waterproof fabrics) Patagonia Totternshell jacket and, especially for mountain walking in cold, wet weather, a pair of waterproof overtrousers
  • one pair of sturdy walking shoes (or lightweight boots) suitable for rough bush tracks, one pair lightweight running shoes or sneakers for wearing while driving, in town or around camp, one pair slip-on sandals known to Australians as thongs, to the Brisish as flip-flops and New Zealanders as jandals
  • a cap, a hat with wider brim for sunny weather and a fleece or wool beanie
  • a pair of wool or fleece gloves in case cold weather comes in.

9. Water

As well as a 600ml to one litre size water bottle that you can pack for bushwalks and use in the vehicle, you will need a minimim 10, preferable 20 litres of water for cooking and washing. Carry it in a plastic jerrycan or in two, ten litre containers.

10. Miscellaneous

Include a small but comprehensive first aid kit. Make this up with bandaids, wound dressings, a medium width bandage, sterile cleaning pads to clean out wounds, blister dressings, iburprofen (also reduces inflammation) or other pain killers, Imodium or similar capsules to stabilise an upset stomach and treat diarrhoea, tweezers to remove splinters and particles from wounds, a broad compression bandage for dressing large wounds/splinting/treating snake or spider bite, a tick freezing and removal device if on the road or in the bush in the warmer season, tick season. Add spare prescription medications if you take them.

I get all of this into a small waterproof, zip-closed bag. On our last Tasmanian journey it came in handy, first when I was slicing tomatoes and mistook my finger for one, second for my partner when she did the same and when she needed to reduce the inflammation and pain of an injured hip.

If you are outfitting your own van, minivan or camping car, a modest set of tools could prove useful. As a minimum: a set of screw drivers, pliers, small and medium shifting spanner, hammer (bashes in tent pegs too), small folding pruning saw, small hatchet, small pry bar, short spade and jumper leads to start a vehicle with a flat battery. A length of tow rope might be useful. If you are travelling and hiring a vehicle, consider taking a multitool with knife blade, pliers, can and bottle opener, file, awl, flat and phillips head screwdriver and, maybe, a saw blade. They are expensive but they are long-lived and useful in everyday life.

Depending where you are there are options for personal hygiene. It is true that you do not need to shower every day. You can go several days between showers depending on how grotty you get. Showering will happen more in summer than the cooler months when you sweat less and body odour accumulates at a slower pace.

Caravan parks offer hot showers and washing machines. It is worthwhile spending the money weekly or so to appreciate the luxury of these facilities and to wash your clothes. Commercial campsites usually have a camp kitchen equipped with refrigerator, stove, washing-up facilities and tables and chairs. You will find these differ in size, equipment and comfort. The caravan park camp kitchen at Snug, south of Hobart, for example, is a large, well-equipped hexagonal structure that keeps out the cold wind and rain coming in from the sea. The camp kirchen at the caravan park at Launceston, Tasmania’s second city, is small, minimally equipped and open sided, though quite adequate for cooking and sitting to eat a meal if there is no wind-driven rain. Caravan parks offer a change from cooking in the van.

At a bush campsite you can warm some water (no need to boil it), pour it into your washing up dish and have a sponge bath. A pleasant alternative in all but winter is to take a dip in the ocean or a lake or river you camp by. If the coean, wash the salt off with fresh water. Watch for strong currents and have your partner, if you travel with one, watch out for you. This is especially important if travelling with children.

You will need a small personal hygiene or wash kit. As well as a towel (we take one of those fast drying microfibre towels of medum or large size) pack a bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss and, for men, a shaver. Contact lens wearers will need their container for the lenses to securely store them overnight. If you wear a denture pack a container to keep it in overnight. I find a tube of aloevera paste soothing of sunburn and dry skin. All of this, other than the towel, fits into a small bag that you can take selected items in on overnight bushwalks. I stuff the towel into a small mesh-topped bag from which moisture can evaporate. When driving, spread your towel in the vehicle so that it dries and airs. Wash it occasionally and hang it in direct sunlight for UV sterilisation.

Lunchtime at a campsite in north-east Tasmania. The utility of the built-in kitchen was proven here where there are no tables, compared to carrying your food and cooking implements in a storage box.

Don’t forget a water bottle each, sun cream, insect repellent and toilet paper.

A groundsheet is a very useful thing to stow in the minivan. The woven plastic type comes in various sizes and colours and has eyelets for attaching lines. It can be used for sitting on wet ground or rigged from the vehicle roofrack or between trees as a sunshade or rain shelter.

I keep an additional lightweight nylon groundsheet in my bushwalking pack as an emergency shelter if we are forced to overnight while on a bushwalk. Take some metres of cord to string from the corner eyelets to branches or other tie-off points. You can tie and leave the cord on the groundsheet.

The ten points

The travel kit I discuss here should work for most road trips spanning days to months. If you plan to live permanently in your van you would need a more comprehensive kit, though not all that more comprehensive.

The ten points summarise what we have found useful for travel by full-size van and minivan where those vehicles also serve to get us to trailheads for bushwalking. As mentioned at the start of this article, the recommendations would also serve those using a larger station wagon or a sedan and rooftop, car camping or hiking tent as their means of travel and accommodation. Think carefully about your needs. What do you plan to do on your road trip? Pack equipment for that. What do you like eating and how can you find compact quick-to-cook ingredients that you can prepare on a small stove at a bush campsite or in a caravan park?

Don’t overplan and create strict deadlines or spend too much time driving. Allow time to stop somewhere nice and chill out. Be spontaneous. There is much to be said for unplanned days at a pleasant campsite spent taking life easy, talking, reading, cooking and eating, enjoying a good wine… being idle. You don’t have to do anything in particular other than just be and let the day sort itself out. You will come to welcome these occasional layover days.

Finally, can I add an extra point — point 11 — which you already have the equipment for. It is called your brain. I am talking about your attitude. Set forth on your minivan or vehicle adventure with the attitude that you are living life as an adventure. You are living differently to how you normally live in the city. Priorities are different. Expectations are different. Comfort levels are different. You might be stepping out of your comfort zone, but be reassured that no matter how chancy this feels, it is here that new discoveries (including some about yourself) and new horizons await.



By road and track — journeys, people, places and encounters in life.

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Russ Grayson

I'm an independent online and photojournalist living on the Tasmanian coast after nine months on the road in a minivan.