One of the great things about touring Australia in a motorhome or campervan is that you don’t have to worry about packing suitcases. All you have to do is to load all your clothes into the van in the driveway of your home, and away you go. Right?
Not so fast! Unless you own one of those mega-motorhomes with loads of wardrobe space and stacks of drawers, you’ll rarely find a campervan with enough storage space to accommodate all the clothes you will want to bring on a trip.
For sure, travelling by road in any type of recreational vehicle is a lot easier than taking a trip that involves travelling by air when you’ll be subject to very strict size and weight restrictions that can make packing a nightmare.
But you will still need suitcases in which to store your clothes whilst on a road trip otherwise everything will get very disorganised and you will soon be experiencing a different type of nightmare trying to find specific clothes that you want to wear.
The secret to good organisation on a trip with a campervan is to use suitcases that are just the right dimension to fill the available storage spaces in the van. If you don’t have travel bags that are the right size, you can get onto a website like https://www.luggagedirect.com.au/ and check the dimensions of suitcases that are available to buy.
Most of the websites of the big luggage retailers and luggage manufacturers have sections listing detailed specifications of their products, so you can list down those models that meet your requirements without having to take a tape measure along to a luggage showroom and measuring everything on the shop floor.
Then using any suitcases that you already have that fit, or new ones that you buy to fit into spaces inside the van that you’ve measured, you can pack all your clothes into those bags and load them into their pre-determined spaces.
You’ll find that makes life so much easier when heading off on a long trip. There’s nothing worse than having a suitcase sitting in the middle of the van because it’s too big to fit under the seat. And if suitcases are too small, you’ll be wasting space and not maximising the available storage.
Sure, you could achieve the same ends using cardboard boxes, but these soon become tattered and torn when you are pulling them out and pushing them back in all the time.
Much better to have a suitcase with a sturdy handle that you can easily pull out and unzip. Keeping your clothes in suitcases rather than boxes helps to keep dust out if you are travelling to dry outback regions.
And when you stop off at a laundromat in a country town to do some laundry, it looks much better carrying the dirty washing in a suitcase than a cardboard box!
Talking about dirty laundry, if you have a storage space inside the van that is an awkward shape and not suitable for a suitcase, then buy a canvas bag or cheap duffle that will adjust to the dimensions of the space, and use that for storing used clothes that are waiting to be laundered.
If you are heading out to remote or wilderness areas and plan to do your own washing by hand, then don’t forget to take along a foldup clothes drying rack because finding two trees to string up a washing line won’t always be easy – and some campgrounds won’t allow that.
A lightweight drying rack can be easily stowed when folded either on the back of the van or on the roof rack if there is one fitted. Another advantage of using a standalone drying rack is that it can be moved into the sun to speed up drying – something that you can’t do with a rope or wire line.
A clothes drying rack is a great item to bring along not just to dry clothes if you are doing your own washing, but also to dry beach clothes after swimming, or just to air clothes in the sun if they’ve been packed in suitcases for a while.
Most campervans do have some wardrobe space, but this is usually very limited and is best reserved for hanging clothes that you will wear the next day so they don’t look as creased as when they are pulled straight out of the suitcase.
If you are planning to take some ‘good’ clothes like a smart jacket or dress for wearing on special occasions, then it’s best to leave these hanging in the wardrobe inside a lightweight suit pack or a plastic cover of the type in which some drycleaners return clothing.
If you are travelling in winter months, or in other seasons when it is raining, it is wise to place something in the wardrobe to absorb moisture to prevent clothes from becoming mouldy or musty. There are a number of proprietary products on the market, but some of these are quite expensive and only last a few weeks.
A cheaper alternative is charcoal, which can be placed in hessian bags or similar (not plastic). This absorbs moisture almost as well as the proprietary products, and lasts longer. You can use the broken charcoal that is sold for barbeques, but not the smooth, rounded type. Add a few drops of an essential oil if you would like to make the wardrobe smell nicer.
Packing clothes for a trip in a campervan is so much easier than when taking holidays staying in hotels and travelling by air, but it still requires some organisation and preplanning. Do it right, and you’ll only have to pack once, and you can enjoy a hassle-free trip seeing our beautiful country in one of the best ways possible.
Author bio: David Astley is a retired journalist who has been travelling all his life. He lived in the Northern Territory for 14 years and Queensland for 13 years, and has road tripped and camped all over Australia.