CAMPING ON A SHOE-STRING BUDGET

Is your bank account running on empty? Check out these pro tips for cheaper touring 

WORDS BY MICHAEL BORG & IMAGES BY CAMPER TRAILER LIFESTYLE

This island we call home is pretty darn big. While we obviously need plenty of time to see the best parts of it, most of us haven’t explored our dream destinations for the same old reason – money! Yep, our off-road adventures aren’t always cheap, and it’s the fear of the unknown costs involved that usually keep those epic dreams of ours stuck at the bottom of the “too hard” basket. The good news is we’ve got you covered. Yep, if you’ve been dreaming of an epic adventure on the cheap, here are the proven tips and tricks that’ll help save you a few bobs-worth on the road to adventure!   

SCALING IT DOWN

Fuel is typically the biggest expense for most 4WD adventures, so it makes sense to do what you can to lower the bill, right? One of the best ways to stretch a few extra kilometres from your tank is to reduce your 4wd and camper trailers weight by packing smart. Take the time to sift through your equipment and pack exactly what you need instead of carrying everything you own all the time. If you haven’t used something within the last 2-3 trips, it can probably be left at home next time, providing it’s not critical of course. While you’re at it, try adding a good quality water filter to your camper. It offers you great protection from dodgy water sources if you choose to fill up the water tanks closer to your campsite instead of lugging a few hundred litres of water down the highway. 

THE SWEET SPEED

By slowing down and sticking to the peak torque range of our vehicles, we’ll drive more economically and efficiently. While every vehicle is different, it’s not uncommon to see a vehicles fuel economy improved by up to 40% simply by finding the “sweet speed” on the highway. It might take a little guess work at first, but it’s well worth the effort in the long run.

CHEAPER CAMP TUCKER 

  • COOK AHEAD

Stews, casseroles, satays and stir-fry work well for bulk meal preparation, as these can all be reheated in one pot. This saves your hard-earned money by using the contents of your home pantry, which saves you buying basics like herbs, spices, flour, rice etc on the road. It also reduces the chance of having to buy expensive takeaway dinners on the road if you’re running late to camp!

  • HEALTHY CAR SNACKS

I know what you’re thinking: boring! But the truth is stocking the car with healthy, low GI snacks means you and the family will stay fuller for longer and save money on expensive junk food from the servo. Make a big scroggin mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruit before you go (add a few yummy things like dried cranberries and white chocolate buds to keep the kids interested), divvy it out into zip-lock bags (one per person) and watch as once sceptical mouths graze with relish. It’s delicious! And will certainly keep cravings at bay. 

LONG TERM TOURING TIPS  

  1. Set a weekly budget and stick to it! Even if you overspend, at least you’ll keep track of your spending. 
  2. Set up a direct debit to pay yourself a touring ‘wage’ from your savings account into your access account to keep track of your spending.
  3. Get savvy with your books, apps and websites to find cheap camps, fuel and gas refills —try Tripigy for campgrounds, MotorMouth for cheap fuel and gasbottlerefills.com for gas.

CHEAPER THERMAL COOKING

One great way to reduce your gas bill is by using a Thermal Cooker. The idea is once you initially heat up the cooking pots, it uses its superior thermal efficiency properties to maintain the heat while cooking your meal for free. The end result is you don’t need a constant fuel or heat source to get the job done. Plus, if you get a little fancy, you can cook two meals at once by using the heat of your main meal to cook an entirely different dish, how cool is that?   

SELF-SUFFICIENT CAMPING

Let’s face it, if you don’t have to pay over $30 per night to camp in a caravan park your camping trip is going to be a fair bit cheaper. That’s where having the ability to free camp or bush camp means you can avoid those more expensive campsite fees. Now to camp comfortably a camp site with no power or facilities, you’ll need to invest in some equipment. For a start, a 12V fridge is a big convenience. And if you’ve got a solar panel to keep your battery charged indefinitely, you’re on the right track. Add in a camp shower and toilet and you’ll be living the dream! Heck, the cost of a solar system and camp shower will pay itself back in no time at all anyway! 

GET OUT THERE

You don’t have to be a millionaire to see Australia, not even close! With a bit of prior thought and planning there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t hit the road and have an absolute blast in the process. The funny thing is in most cases it costs less than most people think. So if you’re keen to hit the road, it’s time to get serious about it; Plan where you’re going, work out a budget and make it happen! The more money you can save along the way, the further you can go in the long run!