If you adore the outdoors and enjoy camping in general, then long-term camping can be your next big adventure. Surviving long-term camping requires a lot of planning and strong dedication. While normal camping lasts only a day or two, long-term camping prolongs the trip to weeks or even months.
Long-term camping in Australia is a rewarding experience that offers benefits like being close to nature, enjoying true peace and blissful freedom. However, this type of camping also presents some risks and challenges. If you’re leaving the comforts of your home for a long time, it’s important to create a camping experience that’s safe and reasonably comfortable. This can be done by making sure you bring essential camping gear, emergency supplies, and little things that will make extended camping pleasant and enjoyable.
Read on to find out the most important tips for long-term camping, not just to survive the trip but also to genuinely enjoy it.
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Why Camp Long Term?
Camping for an extended period is different from usual short camping trips. It is not the most convenient and luxurious type of holiday, since it presents challenges and has elements of uncertainty and surprise. But these are the exact reasons why successfully doing it gives a person a sense of accomplishment. If you follow the best advice for long-term camping, the experience can be meaningful and fulfilling.
Long-term camping can make you appreciate nature and the little things in life that are often taken for granted. You can challenge yourself with something new and exciting by venturing into long-term camping.
Advantages Of Long Term Camping
Long-term camping in Australia will make you appreciate nature more and realize how important it is to preserve it. You will learn that a sustainable lifestyle is not so hard and is a wiser and kinder path to take.
Long-term camping brings you inner peace and true relaxation. You will have to learn to live minimally, and this lifestyle will free you from the nuances of modern living like noisy crowds and busy streets.
Camping for an extended period will make you realize that you don’t need much to be happy, and you can live without luxury and excess materials. In the bush, no one will judge you based on the clothes you wear, the valuables you have, or the job you do.
Long-term camping encourages you to unplug from the internet and social media so you can focus on nature and the people you are sharing the camping experience with. You will feel less need to attract attention or impress anyone.
Long-term camping can teach you values such as patience, teamwork, hard work, and perseverance. You can also acquire new skills like planning, making fires, tying knots, surviving during emergencies, finding shelter, and problem-solving in the wilderness.
Disadvantages Of Long Term Camping
Long-term camping in Australia requires a lot of planning and proactiveness. You can’t just do it on a whim. You have to be good with logistics and pay attention to little details. An oversight such as forgetting essential equipment can be costly. You must commit to camping long-term so you can truly enjoy the experience.
Long-term camping is uncomfortable. You may be able to withstand not having your usual comforts for one or two days. But for long-term camping, you have to learn to live without them for a reasonable amount of time. Long-term camping will strip you away from your comfort zone.
Long-term camping can be exhausting. You will need to do everything on your own. You need to accomplish tasks like preparing and cooking food, building a tent, making a fire, cutting wood, and cleaning up day in and day out.
1. Pack The Camping Essentials
Tents, sleeping bags, water, and food are the standard items when camping. For long-term camping, you will need to ensure you choose high-quality camping gear that will make your trip more comfortable.
If you are planning to do long-term camping, invest in a good quality and comfortable tent. Your tent must be durable enough to withstand wear and tear for prolonged use. Spending a few extra dollars may save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
Find the right tent size to address your needs. Make sure the tent is large enough to accommodate the number of people using it. At times, the advertised tent size is not accurate. The true sleeping capacity can be half or ⅔ of the advertised size. It is better to check the tent physically than to trust the manufacturer’s claim.
Similar to the tent you’re bringing, a good sleeping bag can make a huge difference to a sound sleep. Consider getting a thick and fluffy sleeping bag that’s more suitable for prolonged use, particularly in cooler weather. Sleeping too close to the ground is bearable for a night or two, but for weeks or months, you’ll appreciate the extra comfort. Make sure to dry out and air out your sleeping bag. Hanging it is better than returning it to its stuff sack.
Your clean water supply can run out when on an extended camping trip. But access to clean drinking water is critical unless you are okay with taking the risk of getting sick from dirty and parasite-filled water.
Getting a filter or purifier specifically designed for outdoor adventures will ensure a clean water supply. The cheapest water purifiers are chemical treatments while UV water purifiers are the most expensive. You can also find ultralight water filters at mid-range prices. If you’re going to an area known for very dirty water, then get a filter that specializes in purifying the worst water.
You don’t have to stink just because you are camping in the bush. Toiletries are a must for a pleasant camping experience. Examples of these toiletries include toilet paper, soap, toothbrushes, and other personal hygiene items.
Make sure to bring enough toiletries to last for the duration of your camping trip. Create a list of toiletries needed so you won’t forget anything. You can’t bring all the personal hygiene or beauty products from home on your camping trip so you must learn to prioritize. For example, things like makeup or aftershave are less important in long-term camping.
Any outdoor adventure expert will tell you to never leave home without a survival knife as it will help you deal with emergencies and life-threatening situations. Survival knives are different from your usual kitchen varieties. They can play multiple roles and perform a wide range of tasks. Choose a survival knife with thick blades that are tough and durable. It should have a strong drop-point tip and a comfortable handle.
Fire Starter Kits
Starting a fire using simple materials is indeed an important survival skill to have. You may know how to start a fire using leaves, matches, and stones. However, if you are camping longer, the traditional way of making fire can quickly become a tiresome and repetitive task. Using a fire starter kit while camping will speed up the process of starting a fire with minimal effort.
There are several types of fire starters to choose from. The common ones are Ferrocerium rods and strikers that can easily spark a flame. Other products feature shredded tinder, tinder rope, or slam rods that use compression to make fire.
Backpacks are one of those camping supplies that you can use for many years if you happen to purchase a high-quality one. That being said, there are plenty of decent backpacks out there that won’t cost too much.
An ideal camping backpack is inherently lightweight but strong enough to carry a heavy load. It also needs to be comfortable and comes with a breathable back-panel, compression straps and suspension built that will help you bear the full load better. The bag’s appearance is less important than its functionalities and features.
One of the good tips for living in a tent is to bring a portable and lightweight generator to power your devices. A portable generator can also be an excellent backup to your solar power generating devices.
Choosing the size and power level of the generator depends on the type of camping you’re planning to do. A small generator is more suitable for tent camping. However, if you’re camping in an RV, you will need at least a 2500-watt generator to power standard RV appliances. The more appliances you plan to use, the more powerful the generator needs to be. The best generators are lightweight, efficient, and have relatively low noise.
Portable Solar Panels
Portable Solar Panels (can also be called caravan solar panels) are a great way to generate electricity while long-term camping. Solar panels for camping need to be lightweight and portable. Foldable multiple panels with durable packing are highly sought-after product features. Top-of-the-line solar panels are also waterproof and can be chained to other solar panels if needed.
2. Don’t Forget Emergency Supplies
Camping trips are full of surprises and mishaps and the wilderness can be unpredictable and isolated. Assembling an emergency kit is one of the essential tips for living in a tent. Regardless of your camping destination, you always need to be prepared for emergencies and accidents.
If you have a medical issue while camping, it may take a while till you can get help and medical attention. This is why you always need to have a medical kit when camping.
You can assemble your own first aid kit or buy a pre-made one. Make sure you have the basic items such as:
- bandages (adhesive, butterfly)
- antiseptic and rinse solutions
- hand sanitiser or isopropyl alcohol
- gauze pads
- anti-diarrhea pills
- hydrocortisone cream
- cold-and-flu medication
- scissors, safety pins, tweezers,
- sunburn lotion
- eye drops
- antibiotics (cream and oral)
- antihistamine (for allergic reactions)
- antacid for stomach aches
You can also add any medical items like epi-pens, asthma inhalers, and prescription medication you’ll need with you.
Radios And Phones
Radios and phones are your lifelines and will keep you connected. Some hardcore campers want to disengage themselves from the outside world when camping. However, the reality is accidents and emergencies can happen at any time. Having a radio or phone is the fastest way to get help and assistance when needed.
If you’re going to an area where the phone signal is weak, bring a radio with a working frequency that can get you in touch with the authorities in emergencies.
Mylar blankets (also called space blankets) are light and thin plastic blankets with heat reflection capabilities. Campers use them to reduce the heat coming out of the body or reflect more heat towards them. Mylar blankets are usually included with first aid kits and camping equipment. They can help you survive in the wild in case of extreme cold and wet conditions. Because a mylar blanket will shine brightly in the sun, you can also use it when you get lost. The blanket’s shiny reflection can become a distress signal to rescuers.
Lamps & Torches
Lamps and torches are a must in camping as they can help you move around in the dark. Don’t just rely on your phone to provide light. It’s better to have a dedicated torch or/and lamp that is cheap and provides brighter lighting. If you prefer using a lamp, find a model that you can easily hook or hang somewhere.
Bring enough batteries or a power bank to power your lamps for the duration of the trip. You can opt for solar-powered lamps or torches, or hand-crank models that use kinetic energy to generate electricity. Consider bringing a headlamp so you can work with both hands when necessary. It is also safer to bring an extra fully charged headlamp or lantern in case the main one gets broken or lost.
GPS Trackers & Compasses
A simple map can help you get places when you’re off the grid, but you can also take advantage of GPS navigation technology while camping. On top of a map, you can also bring a simple GPS device or compass to guide you in the right direction.
If you’re going somewhere very isolated and communication signals are weak, consider taking with you a personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite phone.
3. Make Dinner Easy With Cooking Essentials
Unfortunately, there are no fast food joints or restaurants when camping! This means there are no easy fallbacks if you don’t feel like cooking. Be realistic and plan for meals that are easy to cook and prepare.
Here are the cooking essentials for long-term camping:
Foldable Grills Or Stoves
Instead of cooking over a fire, a portable camping stove will offer more convenience for long-term campers. With camping stoves, you can vary meals and cooking methods instead of heating up or barbecuing everything every day.
The best camping stoves are lightweight, portable, and easy to assemble (if needed). If you have money to spare, purchase a model with useful features like adjustable height and heat control.
Plates & Cutlery
The idea of eating everything with your hands in the bush might sound adventurous. However, not using cutlery or plates for a long time can get exhausting and uncomfortable.
You may think of using your usual kitchen utensils for your extended camping trip, but they may not be suitable for the outdoors. Cheap plastic cutlery will not do the trick either as they are uncomfortable to use and break off easily. Instead, bring camping plates and cutlery that are light, durable, and easy to clean.
Water-Tight Cooler Bags or Esky
Coolers are necessary if you’re bringing perishable food. The best ones come with a water-tight design so you won’t end up with wet camping equipment. When it comes to ice, the larger the blocks are, the slower they’ll thaw.
Store the ice blocks in large jugs and bottles and then put them together with the food in the cooler. This storage method will slow down the melting process. When the ice in the jug and bottle eventually melts, you will get an extra supply of water.
Soap & Dishwashing Liquid
Soap and dishwashing liquid are commonly overlooked by campers. But they are essential to camping unless you don’t mind eating on dirty dishes or staying stinky for the rest of your trip. Be mindful of using your supply when camping as it’s impractical to bring several bottles of soap on your extended camping trip. You can opt for smaller bars of soap and put the dish soap into a more lightweight compact container.
4. Remember The Little Things To Keep Camping Comfortable
Hiking boots can give you much better protection from harsh elements in the wild than any other shoes. Most of the time, extended camping requires a lot of walking. Hiking boots can protect your feet and ankles from strenuous walking. They are especially a great choice for long-term camping because they are quite durable and stable.
After a long day of exploring and hiking, you will most likely long for a pleasant sleeping experience. This is why using an inflatable mattress instead of a sleeping bag is one of the great tips for long-term camping.
Air mattresses offer more comfort than your average sleeping bag. Some types are made to be very portable and can be folded up to a small size. However, if you have enough space and you are planning to drive to your camp area, you can get away with a bigger air mattress kit or cot. The top air mattresses can be pumped manually and electrically. Some products are designed with thermal resistance or insulation features to suit the weather.
People can often underestimate the power of good camping chairs. Quality camping chairs will save your back from a lot of strain. Sitting on the ground or wood can be tiring if done for too long.
Camping chairs are made to be collapsable, lightweight, and compact. You can easily store them in the back of your car. These chairs are not only useful during camping but you can also use them in other events such as picnics, road trips, and concerts.
Despite being lightweight, camping chairs should be durable. The best ones come with arms, cup holders, and mesh backs for better ventilation.
Shampooing your hair may not be the most important when camping but it will certainly make you feel more comfortable. Washing with shampoo refreshes your hair and gets rid of excess dirt, dust, and oil accumulated from staying outdoors.
While it’s true that you don’t have to wash your hair every day while camping, cleaning it with shampoo once in a while will make you feel clean and rejuvenated, a reminder of the comforts of being at home. A shampoo bar is also more compact and easier to pack than a bottle of shampoo.
You may think that regular socks are good enough for camping. However, if you are planning to do a lot of walking during your trip, then hiking socks can offer certain advantages.
Unlike thin cotton socks, hiking socks are designed to prevent blisters. Their material gives enough protection from harsh friction caused by the constant rubbing of the feet and the shoes or boot.
Cell phones, tablets, cameras, compasses, GPS trackers, and radios are just some of the delicate items you need to take with you when camping. However, these items are also at high risk of getting damaged when outdoors, especially during hikes.
Store your valuable electronics in shockproof cases when long-term camping. If your camping adventure involves a great deal of water crossing or swimming, choose a shockproof case that also has waterproofing capabilities.
Aside from being very annoying and disruptive at night, mosquito bites also have the potential to cause serious illness. A camping trip can be much more enjoyable if you have insect repellent always on hand.
The most common repellents have DEET, but products with picaridin formula are great alternatives. You can also opt for products with natural ingredients like eucalyptus, citronella, and tea tree oil if you find them effective.
5. Plan Your Journey
Research Where You Can Camp & How Long You Can Stay
There are many paid camping grounds as well as free camping sites all over Australia. With regards to free camping, each state has different rules and regulations. It is necessary to research the local camping rules to avoid getting fined. You can start by choosing which specific places in the country you want to visit and then look for the paid and free campsites around the area.
Estimate How Long It Will Take You To Get Between Campgrounds
Getting an idea of how long it will take you to reach one campground from another can save you a lot of stress. Estimating the transition periods between camps can help you budget your supplies and manage your time more. In Australia, free campgrounds are not abundant. If you camp at a National Park, you may have to drive hours to reach another campsite at a rest stop or bush area.
Let Someone Know Where You Will Be, And When You Will Arrive & Leave
Security and safety should be your priority when it comes to long-term camping. Before going on your trip, find people you trust and care about you and inform them of your extended camping trip.
Providing a copy of your detailed camping itinerary to your emergency contact is one of the tips for long-term camping you should always follow. This itinerary should include details like specific dates, times, and campsite addresses to help people track you down easily. While on your camping trip, consider updating your loved ones regularly about your trip progress.
Know Where You Can Get Supplies In An Emergency
Going off the grid for a while is good for the soul, but you don’t have to compromise your safety. If you want to camp in a remote area, make sure you know where to go and how to access essential items in case you run out. Do not be complacent and think that you have enough supplies. There’s always a risk of running out so you must have a backup plan.
Consider The Season & Weather
The season and weather in your specific camping destination can greatly affect your overall camping experience. Many consider Australia an ideal long-term camping destination because most of the country has favorable weather conditions.
Nevertheless, there are still four seasons in most regions, but there are climate variations among different states and territories. Summer is easily the best time to camp, but it can get crowded. You also have to be careful of heat strokes and dehydration. If you decide to camp during winter, you will need to pack more equipment and stuff and prepare for harsher conditions.
How Long Can I Stay In A Camping Ground In Australia?
Paid private camping sites set their own stay limit. On the other hand, free camping sites do not impose a camping period limit as long as campers follow their rules. Keep in mind that different states and regions in Australia may have their camping time restrictions, so it is better to conduct some in-depth research.
Can I Legally Live In A Tent In Australia?
While there are free camping spots in Australia, wild camping is illegal in Australia. Legally speaking, you cannot just pitch a tent at any convenient area in the country. This prohibition has something to do with Australia welcoming millions of backpackers who enjoy camping every year. The government prohibits wild camping to avoid issues like overcrowding in coastal areas and waste management problems.