During the pandemic, caravan sales have gone through the roof – staycations are where it’s at. But, if you’re a newbie or just desperate to escape more it can be all too easy to pour good money after bad on travel ‘toys’.
“It doesn’t take long to get fed up with the wallet pain that comes with a badly-judged buy,” says Justine Lightowler, one of the creators of Gladesville’s very own camper and caravanning accessories business, Campsmart.
My husband and I actually grew up camping, with long spells in the bush, free camping and trekking. Those childhood adventures kickstarted a lifelong love of travel and the great outdoors. Then, as young adults, we took our sense of adventure around the world, camping and trekking across the globe – from Spain to Bolivia and beyond.
Kids arrived and still, we kept camping.
Interestingly, where people often talk about careers taking a hit when you become parents, ours took off in a crazy, wonderful new direction. I was on maternity leave after the birth of our third child, when we decided to take to the road with ‘Gary’ for a few months, enjoying the best of NSW, VIC and SA. We had a lot of thinking time and a lot of inspiration along the way and, loving travel, the outdoors and adventure, we realised we wanted to help others experience the joys of life on the road and under the stars.
So, with more than a little trepidation, we packed in our successful corporate careers and dedicated ourselves to the business of making caravanning accessible to as many people as possible, by sourcing great kit for every need and circumstance.
Must-have’s for caravanners
To that end, there are five key things we absolutely cannot live without (and don’t make me try, because it won’t be pretty!):
1. Waterproof privacy screens
We invented them for a reason! All the great features of shade cloth awning walls with the huge bonus of being waterproof, lightweight and easy to put up. Minimal expense and no need to carry around bulky canvas walls. Honestly, you will never look back.
2. Outdoor floor matting
Any camping/caravanning parent knows that dirt, grass and kids combine to create a perfect storm. Preserve your sanity and make caravan floor matting your friend.
3. Anti-flap kit
This little beauty stops noisy wind flaps on your awning at night. Which means more sleep, less rage, and happier campers. Also helps brace your awning and allows you to attach privacy screens- which (as I’ve mentioned) are the best thing ever!
4. Food-grade drinking water hose
Because once tasted there is no forgetting that garden hose tang. Do yourself a favour and make your water drinkable!
5. Awning rafters
Super easy to install, these are another weapon in the ‘anti-flap’ armoury, as well as preventing water pooling. They take only moments to fit in place and they’ll keep the fabric taut, brace your awning and give much more stability.
But, because we’re honest to a fault, we have to admit that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, even in Campsmart land. We’ve had our fair share of disastrous buys, and we’re not afraid to share ‘em…
Five things we wish we had never bought:
1. Light coloured floor matting!
What was I thinking? Dirt, dirt and more dirt.
2. Large heavy lounge chairs
You think they’re comfortable, but the payoff just isn’t there for what it takes to pack away heavy cumbersome chairs. Do yourself a favour and pack smarter.
3. Cheater’s monopoly
It’s the closest thing to world war in a van. Family feuds a-go-go every time this one hits the table. If you value your sanity and want to continue loving your children, AVOID!!!!
4. Non-Smart TV
When there are so many great streaming apps around these days, we really limit ourselves through our TV choice. Even if you’re not big TV watchers, there’s always a rainy day when you’ll be desperate for a digital babysitter/Netflix binge.
5. Antenna without a booster
Who were we kidding? You need a booster for reception, or your TV is a total waste of time. *facepalm*
So next time you’re tempted by the lure of a new travel ‘toy’, talk to someone who’s had one a while and get the unvarnished truth about everything camper and caravan related.
In our experience, simplicity is the key to happy camping – clever tools and products to make life on the road easy and comfortable. Because the more time you can spend ‘doing’ rather than ‘making do’, the happier we all are!
Campsmart is a customer-focused Australian business designed to deliver real solutions for caravanners. www.campsmart.net.au