The progression of camping; perspectives and what you really need

Whilst on our big lap of Australia, I find myself thinking a lot more life in general, instead of devoting a huge chunk of time to my job. I often look at other travellers setups, and like to think about how it would work for us, and where we might end up in a year, 5 years, 10 years or more. There’s certainly a progression of camping, and we’re not exempt from it.

Oztent in the Kimberley
Phase two of our camping setup was an Oztent and 80 Series 4WD

The progression of camping

There was a meme going around a while back which showed the typical progression by age when it comes to camping setups, and it wasn’t too far off the mark. For many people though, the typical transition for someone who loves the outdoors and enjoys camping goes something like this:

Starts camping in a swag and tent, with basic supplies to get off grid.

Purchases some more fancy camping gear to make life more comfortable, and perhaps starts to set a 4WD up to live out of on the road.

Fixed solar panels
We had a decent camping setup

Realises that its really hard to live comfortably with a family on the road and stay legal, so purchases a trailer of some sort to take more gear, and to make life on the road easier.

Decides that a camper trailer is too hard, and moves to a hybrid camper or caravan

Rapid Bay Camp site
A lot of people eventually end up in a Caravan or motorhome

Now, this is a huge generalisation and I know that plenty of people don’t follow this path, and that’s just fine. I always like to think of the bigger picture though; why is it that so many people rave about the setup that they travel in? What led them to that?

Age and number of kids in your dependence hugely influences what you travel in (and where/how you travel), and we’ve been through many of these stages in the past. 

What do you really need to go camping?

It got me thinking though; what do you really need, and does more actually make camping any more enjoyable or easier?

When Sarah and I had our old 80 Series Land Cruiser with an Oztent, a couple of inflatable mattresses and sleeping bags, we had some epic adventures and loved every (almost) minute of it.

When one child came along we purchased a soft floor camper trailer, and really enjoyed that for a number of years, before we got over the setup and pack away time, and had another kid, and got a hybrid camper trailer.

Soft floor camper trailer
Our old soft floor camper trailer that we used for many years

We loved our hybrid to death and used it a huge amount, but cant help but wonder if we should be moving to a caravan to make it easier and more comfortable, but the size, cost and weights prevent us from doing so.

Our hybrid camper trailer
We’ve done about 400 nights in our Reconn R2 so far

Its funny how you love something until you have something else, or you get a different perspective. When you sleep in a swag and cook on a portable gas burner the idea of a full kitchen in a camper trailer, and a bed with a proper mattress and doona is hugely appealing. You can get that, and then in due time the shine wears off and you want something else, and in todays society you constantly have this ‘pressure’ (implied or otherwise) to keep up with the Joneses.

Camper trailer bed
Moving from sleeping bags and inflatable mattresses to a proper queen bed with sheets and a doona was such an upgrade

What’s best?

I often see people asking about combined or separate toilets and showers in caravans, and chuckle. You have those on one side who say you absolutely must get them separate, as they are useless together, and then you have those who are happy with them. Do you know how many people would love to have a toilet and shower available, in a clean, enclosed space at the drop of a hat?

We sit outside of the equation all together, and chuckle at the fact that thousands of people have travelled Australia without toilets and showers at all, and now we argue whether you need them a specific way in your caravan?

We have an outdoor shower and toilet, and don’t even have the option of using it indoors!

Quickpitch shower tent
Our shower is far from luxurious, but its a lot better than many!

You really don’t need much to go camping, but its funny how your perspective changes over the years, and your needs and desires also move.

I remember the first hot shower that I had in the bush. It felt like the best shower I’d ever had, after a day on motorbikes way down south, and the shower was literally a leaky bucket that we tipped warm water into, and used a $12 shower pump in.

Considering perspectives

When thinking about perspectives, I always like to remember that things fall into 3 categories. There are things that you know you know. Often you’ve experienced it, and have a good understanding of it.

Then, you have things that you know you don’t know. We’ve never had a caravan, and whilst I know a lot about them, its still an area I’m no expert in, and I know that.

Then, the third category; the things that you don’t know that you don’t know. People who buy a caravan and use it, without ever having been in a leaking tent before, or had to set up a soft floor camper really don’t know what its like. 

Ultimately, if how you travel is making you happy, you can’t ask for much more than that, but I do find it helpful to try and understand where someone’s comment originates from, and to learn from them if that’s an option.

Where are we going?

I’ve long since accepted the fact that at some point in time we will get a caravan. Our Hybrid Camper is awesome, and we’ve yet to see anything that would suit us better, but eventually our children are going to get too tall for the bunks, and we’ll probably outgrow it.

I love the idea of a 4WD van, but the most logical idea is to move into the lightest off-road van that we can find, and replace the tow vehicle. Will that happen any time soon? I very much doubt it. We’re happy enough in our Hybrid and it doesn’t make sense to change now, but it probably will in the future.

Caravan travelling Australia
I’m pretty sure we’ll end up with a caravan at some stage

How’s your camping experience changed?

What did you start camping in, and what are you using now? Why the upgrade? Do you regret any of the changes? Let us know below!

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