Caravanning and RVing in Australia



Here is an article originally written for the 2008 Caravan World Year Book

Lionel's Top 20 Pre-trip Checklist
There’s nothing more frustrating or annoying than getting on the road for that long-awaited big trip and discovering there are some important things you have forgotten to do or something essential that you didn’t pack.

We have a long and comprehensive checklist for the things we need to take with us and we print it out and check it off every time we use the van. There’s a down-loadable copy of our list at the bottom of this article.

1. I guess that would have to be number one on my top twenty list – make or copy a ‘Things-to-take’ checklist.

Then there are what I call the house things:

2. Arrange for someone to keep your mailbox cleared so it’s not a give-away that you have gone away.

3. For the same reason you need to have someone cut the lawn/s and keep the garden looking cared for. Perhaps hang something on the clothesline and have a pair of boots on the back doorstep. If you have Neighborhood Watch let them know the dates for the trip and also tell the folk next door – perhaps they might park a vehicle in your driveway from time to time. Some people set up timers to turn the telly and lights on at certain times – again to give the impression that someone is in residence.

4. Along with all the above you need to make sure the house is secure –windows with locks and doors with dead-locks.

Then there are the vehicle things:

5. Have the vehicle serviced before you leave and make sure you have the service log book with you.

6. Tyres can be expensive items in remote regions so make sure your current tyres will make it all the way. If there’s any doubt then get a new set and keep the others for when you get back home.

7. If you are towing you will need to pay particular attention to the cooling system as towing increases the amount of heat generated by the engine and transmission. Check with your vehicle’s dealer to see if you need an auxiliary transmission oil cooler although most vehicles these days are fine without them.

8. If you are planning on spending time in hotter regions it could be worth getting the vehicle windows tinted and certainly you should check that the air-conditioning has been serviced and is working properly.

Towing things
If you are towing something whether it be a caravan, camper-trailer , boat, car-trailer or a car behind a motorhome there are still more things to check.

9.Tyres once again! Same as No 6.

10. Towing gear. It’s most important that your outfit is set-up properly for towing. Each one is different but I’m a firm believer in weight distributing hitches when towing medium to large caravans.  If you are in any doubt about your towing gear check with a specialist towing company like Hayman Reese. Your own   checking should include such things as the ball load and the total weight of the caravan. A visit to a weighbridge is the most reliable way of getting accurate weights of what you are carrying on the caravan or trailer tyres and on the tow-ball.

11. Secret Men’s Business. Reversing a caravan or trailer is not a black art and plenty of ladies handle it quite competently. However if you are new to towing it’s a very good idea to sign up for one of the many towing courses now available around the country.

Boring stuff!

Lots of things that are a not exciting still have to be looked at before setting off.

12. What about your mail? Have you made arrangements for someone to forward it to you on a regular basis? Australia Post can forward your mail to a nominated address for a charge and this can be to a rellie or friend or to a commercial forwarding service. Then you can either arrange for bills and renewals to be paid by your mail handler or you can let them know where to sent your mail to you care of a Post Office or to a caravan park. We use an Express Mail envelope sent once a week and all the mail is kept together that way.

13. Medical. It’s a good idea to have a check-up before you leave to make sure everything’s fine on the health front. Ask your doctor to give you as many prescriptions as possible and a letter to any GP you may visit during your travels. The letter should describe any medical problems you may have and the treatment and medicine you might be getting.

14. It goes without saying that you need to take your Medicare Card and any other health cards, including your Pension Card if you have one, with you.

15. Are all your insurances paid up? Your need the policy numbers and contact details for all of these.

16. What about all the paperwork for your appliances, etc? Something may go wrong while you are away so the warranty details are important to have with you. You might also need the owner’s manuals.

17. Entertainment. You won’t be travelling all the time so how will you fill in those free hours? Most people take a TV these days and despite saying there’s nothing worth watching, they still like to see a few favourite shows and the news. A few extra dollars buying a good antenna is only a fraction of what the trip is going to cost and will save hours of frustration trying to get a decent picture in a fringe area. Digital transmissions are present in many places these days so a set-top box is handy to have. If you are really addicted then a satellite system is indicated and these are getting much cheaper by the day.

Of course a sound and/or dvd system is fitted to just about every RV and vehicle nowadays so plenty of cds and dvds will be appreciated. And don’t forget some good books.

18.Communication. It seems as though everyone in Australia has a mobile phone and they have made communication on the road much easier. They don’t work everywhere though as there are plenty of places with no coverage. The NextG system that is a fairly recent addition to the networks gives by far the best coverage and using an antenna with the phone increases it’s use.

Laptops etc. If you want email on the road and want to send photographs then a laptop connected to the net by a NextG modem or card is the easiest way to go. Many caravan parks these days have WiFi installed and you can link to the net wirelessly with the right software in your laptop. These ‘hot spots’ are also to be found at McDonalds and other places. Check out what’s best for you well before leaving home as it’s often difficult to get the service you need away from capital cities.

19. Emergencies. Make sure you have a basic first-aid kit and know emergency first-aid. Have the emergency number programmed into one of your quick dial numbers on your mobile. Make sure you have an in-date fire extinguisher, smoke alarms and a fire-blanket ready for use should you have a fire. If you have a USF CB radio make sure you know which is the emergency channel – in case you are wondering it’s Ch. 5

20. And of course you wouldn’t want to miss getting your copy of Caravan World every month now would you! So why not subscribe and get it sent with your mail – it’s often difficult getting to a newsagent at the right time when you are travelling.

This is our pre-travelling checklist and we print it out every time we go on a trip. It's so easy to forget something important like the wine or the tin-opener.

Feel free to copy and modify it for yourself.


Pants and vests - his/hers
Tee shirts
Casual gear - his/hers
Jumpers - his/hers
Jeans - his/hers
Track suits - his/hers
Shoes and sandals- his/hers
Hats - his/hers
Bathers - his/hers

Tooth stuff
Deodorants - his/hers
Towels - his/hers
Brush and comb - his/hers
Toilet rolls

Sheets - his/hers
Blankets - his/hers
Doona - his/hers
Pillows - his/hers
Bedspreads - his/her

Tea-towel and hand towel
Saucepans and electric jug
Coffee jug, funnel and filters
Mugs, Plates and bowls
Kitchen knife
Tin opener
Kitchen paper

Bread, Margarine
Jam and marmalade
Salad items
Biscuits, Nibbles
Milk , Sugar, Sweeteners
Coffee, Tea bags
Sandwich fillings
Pre-cooked food
Beer,wine, port and sherry
Tablets - his/hers
Sun screen 15+
Burn cream
Band aids

Dressing Gowns - his/hers

CDs, Tapes
Loose step (if used)
Waste bin
Matches and lighterÝ
Camera, films
Camcorder and charger
Spirit level
Fly-spray and Rid
Chairs and table
Broom, dustpan and brush
Portable barbeque


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