How to Elevate Your Road Trip Game With Car Camping

car camping rv campervan green on orange background
With winter fast approaching, you might finally find time to brave the chilly outdoors just so you can embrace the true camping experience and char the heck out of some marshmallows over an open fire. Unfortunately, millions of other people have the same brilliant idea. Campgrounds across the country can fill up quick. Rental cars can be pricey, and finding a classic RV for anything less than a fortune is an absolute feat. But before you start lamenting the death of the spontaneous road trip, look in the driveway. Car camping might just be for you.
With a little ingenuity and preparation, your car could become your all-in-one campsite, bedroom, and chariot to some truly epic outdoor adventures. Here’s what you need to know about car or van camping in the great outdoors.

Transform your vehicle into an adventure machine

Contrary to what you see on Instagram, you don’t need a tricked-out sprinter van to go car camping. When in doubt, less is more, and it’s okay to learn and adapt to your needs as you go. Any vehicle will do-but pickup trucks, SUVs, and minivans are ideal if you want to lay down flat with a bed in the back.
If you’re spending the night outside, you’ll need the usual camping gear like a tent, sleeping bag, chairs, the whole nine yards. You can also pick up deep cycle batteries and accessories from stores, like your local Battery World, as well as get your car battery health checked — an all too essential step before taking your car camping. You can even secure containers on the roof of your vehicle to bring along any hefty adventure gear.
Depending on your willingness to disconnect from the world you’ll want something to charge your phone and electronics. There are power banks available that will keep you connected.
Unsplash/Robson Hatsukami
Unsplash/Robson Hatsukami

Plan ahead (but not too much!)

The benefit of car camping is that you aren’t beholden to hotel check-ins and check-outs, added holiday home fees, or even the hassles of reserving a campsite. You can essentially go where the wind blows you.
Plan too little, though, and you might run into some problems. It’s important to do a little bit of research, otherwise you can end up at a destination you’ve been looking forward to for months, only to find it’s closed for one of a myriad of reasons. Social media is a great resource here — search your next stop on Instagram, TikTok or even Reddit to see what the latest happenings are in the area, and make the appropriate decision from there.
Unsplash/hilary bird
Unsplash/hilary bird


Find a safe (and legal) place to park for the night

Protecting yourself and your car at night can be an afterthought, but it really should be a necessary precaution you take before you hit the road to keep you prepared for anything. If you can find a campsite or campground, that’s a great start. Otherwise, try and find places where other solo campers are parking up — there’s safety in numbers, after all! However, make sure that wherever you’re parking your car for the night, you’re doing so legally.
Remember, you don’t need to plan a trip through mountain rangers or across the red centre straight away; you can start slow. And don’t let the beautiful #vanlife couples discourage you if your trip looks a little more makeshift than theirs. At the end of the day, it’s all about taking that first step, and doing what works for you and your budget.

With over 100 Battery World stores across Australia, there’s bound to be one near you. Check out your local Battery World store today.

This article originally appeared on Thrillist.

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