Planning our Big Lap
I love to keep things a little open-ended in case somewhere or something takes our family’s interest. So when I told Christi, my wife, that I really wanted to do a big lap, I had to assure her we would get to see so much of this beautiful country and hopefully find our forever home. I was hoping my wife would see the beauty in the freedom and lifestyle that something like a Big Lap could provide us.
I am not a materialistic person. Though occasionally I think all of us see nice things and still secretly want them. When I think about it, I know deep down that I don’t need them and don’t want what can come with those material things. Only a lucky few can have both. And I know that isn’t the majority that finds both. Ultimately being privileged like we are in Australia, most of my friends and family don’t even understand or comprehend how well off they are. It’s very hard for people to see outside the sphere that Australia can be to our way of life. We are so lucky in this country, and the more I travel the more I see how life can be simple and yet enjoyable, without expensive toys like cars, fashion and other things that provide status.
So our planning was less than most would probably have done. I did some reading and joined Facebook groups
(traveling Australia with kids, caravan and camping Australia ) I found some books and some apps like Wikicamps AU (iOS, Android) and I found some forums (caravaners forum, the grey nomads, ) and others. But they really contain a wealth of knowledge. So that was enough for me to make the decision to head north in our new caravan.
We chose to purchase a new Jayco Expanda 20.64-1 OB Outback model. What I found after a lot of searching the internet was that Jayco held the majority of Caravan sales in Australia. As much as 50% of caravans in Australia are Jayco. They also seemed to hold value very well. And ultimately this is the reason I chose this caravan. (I purchased the caravan including an annexe for $64k and sold it 6 months later for $60k. That worked out to cost us $153 per week. We paid the $64k in cash. No loan. And this helped us because if we had have financed the caravan, we would have been up for significantly more. For example a loan of $50k at a favorable interest rate of 10%, would cost an additional $100pw more. That really helped us again to be able to afford the trip.
Some other purchases we recommend to ensure you can travel in comfort.
A Tussoy mattress topper for $199 which we purchased from Ikea in Brisbane (our expanda mattress just didn’t cut the mustard.)
A $199 32inch TV from Kogan 7 Star energy rating. We used an inverter to run the TV because of the limited options in 12V.
I would recommend a small quality inverter like this Victron 12V 250W for $132, the inverter also allowed me to run and charge my laptops from the LifePO4 battery.
A Thumper 12V air compressor $129 to go off-road especially for driving on sand . We spent a few days on Fraser Island which is now one my favourite places on Earth.
A double swag from adventure kings for $229 for when you can’t take the van.
LifePO4 Batteries for your Caravan
I also chose to upgrade my caravan Battery to a lithium LIFEPO4 Smart Bluetooth battery 100Ah.
This was one of my favorite additions to our caravan. We never once ran out of power when we were free camping. We went off grid for over a month at a time. Which I absolutely loved. And we ran our Fridge Freezer 24/7 from the Solar and Battery. The benefits simply were that unlike traditional Lead Acid type batteries, The LifePO4 battery charged about twice as fast because the battery was able to take almost 100% of the electricity produced from the Solar panels and store it. Lead Acid batteries can only use about half the electricity due to the way they need to be charged. I will create a separate blog article about how this worked in much more detail for those of you who are interested in the details here.
Here is a link to the same Battery in a different brand. (same OEM manufacturer as the one I had, which means its 100% identical) I can also import these batteries with bluetooth and android and iOS app in 100ah, 125ah, 200ah and 300ah LifePO4 at a much cheaper price if you are interested to contact me by email for a quote.
You will also want to purchase a water filter. Water is the biggest concern when full-time caravanning, especially if you choose to free camp. I would recommend your caravan has a separate tank for drinking water, tapped to a separate tap at your sink. I chose an inline water filter from bunnings after we left, as I had not considered the water sources we would be using along the way. When we return to the road next time I will be ordering something of much better quality.
I did some research and came up with something I found on ebay that would suit full time, the Doulton Ceramic Twin
We would also recommend the purchase of water containers that you can freeze in your Fridge Freezer. That way you can save yourself a small fortune in bottled water costs, and still have cold water hours after you have set out on whatever day trips you may have chosen. We would sometimes take the Fridge Freezer with us if we planned on being out most of the day. Otherwise it would stay at camp. I think most people would have a dual battery setup meaning you can leave the fridge freezer on inside your car while you are out.