5 Essential and 5 Useless Items We Carry

We’ve obviously got limited space and weight, so we’d like to think we only have things that we need. We don’t have room to carry stuff that we don’t need. There are still some things that are absolutely essential, and others that are just nice to have…


What’s a family trip without cameras? Peter and Susan have even got cameras, and though Susan’s was stolen we are buying her a new one. Lucy is still too young to have her own camera.


We have to go outside at night sometimes to get something out of the tunnel boot or the car, or do a trip to the bin means torches are really handy.

We often choose to empty the toilet at night as it is an unpleasant job so torches are a great help. Think the night watchman – it’s just the most disgusting part of living in a campervan — and we don’t want an audience. I mean, who wants to be seen carrying 20L of … crap?

kindles and ipods

These e-readers have solved the problem of not having enough room or weight to be able to carry the books we need. The kids are bookworms, and without these we could never keep up with enough books for them.

And audiobooks. Lots and lots of audiobooks and podtours. They’re ipods aren’t used for music, though, except Lucy who has nursery rhymes. There are a lot of educational audiobooks available from Audible, and even more than this are the classics that are available for free downloads from Librivox and Lit2Go.The kids often have an ipod plugged in to listen to a story.

Kids reading -- Susan had got me to get her a paper book because Edmund had taken her kindle and wouldn't give it back.


This is one of our absolute must-haves, particularly with kids. We’ve had a lot of trouble trying to work out the best place to store the bikes while we’re moving, though.

The three kids bicycles are all kept inside the van while we are moving, and therefore they have to come out straight away when we stop. This means that the kids always have their bikes accessible to them when we are stopped, and they spend a lot of time riding on their bikes and exploring.

Lately we have had the adult bikes strapped to the top of the roof of the landcruiser. We really do need to get down our bikes more often, but it is such a hastle to get them up and down from the roof! We plan on keeping them with the kids bikes now as they are beginning to show signs of weather damage from being on the roof.

We have had a lot of problems with sharp thorns causing punctures; we are at a loss of what to do about this. Jarrad’s filled each tyre with a special slime, and everyone has extra-strong tubes. It seems to make little difference. He’s forever having to repair someone’s puncture.

Diesel Heater

This is such a luxury, but we love it. Ten liters of diesel will give us almost two days of constant use. Without the diesel heater, we wouldn’t have been able to camp at the snow for 10 weeks. Even in places milder than the snow, it is still a blessing. In the desert the nights get cold and it is so lovely to run the heater for half an hour to take the chill off the air.

5 Useless Items We Carry

We discussed this together and our initial answer is, “We don’t have enough weight or space to carry anything useless. Anything we haven’t been using we tend to send back to our parents to store there.” However …


We left this behind in Melbourne after we’d been on the road for three months. In that time, we had only tried to watch it twice and neither time could we get any reception on the channel we wanted. We decided that it was taking up more space and weight than it was worth. We’ve never once regretted it.


OK, not useless, but the quantity can be completely over the top sometimes.

When we lived in a house, each child had a chest of drawers each to hold all of their clothes. Now they have one drawer each. Somehow, we still end up finding that the kids have more clothes than they wear.

We just cleaned out all of their clothes and took the ones that they had grown out of to the op shop. This got rid of about half the clothes we were carrying for the kids. What a lot of wasted space and weight that had been!


We have a microwave in the campervan. It can only be used when we are plugged into 240V power or running the generator, so obviously we rarely use it. Even though it is nice to have when we are plugged into power, this is so rare that it is just a waste of space and weight.

Washing Machine

I admit I still haven’t decided if I love this one or hate it. It is a campervan washing machine, meaning it only holds 2.5 kilograms, and with four kids that means that we need to use it often. It also needs 240V power, and it uses 50 L of water for every wash. We will run the generator for this one, but we need a supply of water to be able to run it. This limits its usefulness. Also, we have found it is rather delicate and in one and a half years have needed to replace the seal twice and the handle once.

Then again, every time I curse it, I consider washing them by hand, or using a tub that I have to turn the handle on constantly to wash the clothes. OK, maybe these options would use much less water and I wouldn’t be need to run the generator — but, really …?

I think I’ll stick with the washing machine for now.

The Awning

Again, not completely useless, but we hardly ever use it. Whenever we put it up it seems that the wind picks up and starts threatening to rip the awning off. We’ve had to drag outselves out of bed in the middle of the night a few times to put it down because of the wind.

We still use it sometimes. The shade and shelter it provides are nice. It’s just that the limitations in the wind make it less useful.

Jarrad’s comment to this being on the list is, “I like the awning, we just don’t use it enough.” Enough said.

We are not the only ones travelling with kids. Check out these others to hear their opinions.

Around The World In Easy Ways

Edventure Project

Jessie Voigts

Family on Bikes


Snaps and Blabs

Tripping Mum

Got Passports

Avenue Reine Mathilde – this one is in French.


Travelling Australia in a campervan since 2009 with our four children aged 4, 7, 10, and 11. We are a family living on the road. Stopping to work in rural and remote towns as we need more money, we love this lifestyle. The four kids are homeschooled as we work our way slowly around Australia.

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About Amy and Jarrad

Travelling Australia in a campervan since 2009 with our four children aged 4, 7, 10, and 11. We are a family living on the road.
Stopping to work in rural and remote towns as we need more money, we love this lifestyle. The four kids are homeschooled as we work our way slowly around Australia.


  1. I would have t.
    hought you would find your computer essential, otherwise you could not write this.

  2. Family On Bikes
    Twitter: familyonbikes

    You have a TV, microwave and washing machine? Man, oh man – I may have to ditch the bikes and get an RV. Oh wait – I did say our bikes were essentials, right?

    • admin
      Twitter: livinontheroad

      Well, the TV is gone now. Bikes nearly made my essential list, too

      Ditching the bikes would probably save on the food bill, but would up the overall fuel expenses, I’m imagining.

      • Mike Schwab says:

        No, you tie the bicycles to the RV ladder on the rear.

        • Family On Bikes
          Twitter: familyonbikes

          We would get rid of the TV too, but Idunno – a wash machine and microwave would be a real plus! and if the bikes could go too… Hmmm…

          • admin
            Twitter: livinontheroad

            My jury is still out on the washing machine. I love it, but it’s just got serious limitations since it uses “so much” water and needs 240V power. The microwave, that’s just a waste of space – since we need to be plugged in to power to use it, we just use the stove. Now the stove – that is on my list of essentials. And I did consider putting the dutch oven on the list of essentials …

          • Family On Bikes
            Twitter: familyonbikes

            I can see that. I did appreciate having my stove with me – even though it was a hassle to pull out and set up every time I wanted to use it.

          • admin
            Twitter: livinontheroad

            That was such a consideration when we were designing the campervan – we didn’t want to have to set things up every time we stopped. We do love the campoven on a tripod over a fire during winter.

  3. We have different essential itmes to carry, but a book or e-book is on everyone´s list.

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