Be free to choose where you want to stay and for how long. Free or low-cost camping will give you options.
What is Free Camping?
Free Camping is, as the name suggests, camping or staying in bushland, rest stops or camping areas without paying a fee. However, many people also include staying in gold coin donation or very low-cost campsites in their definition.
This style of accommodation may be called free camping, freedom camping, boondocking, or outdoor camping.
How do I prepare for free camping?
There are many steps to prepare for free camping so that you can choose not to stay in expensive motel rooms, or caravan parks every day.
Most people travel on a budget of some kind, the only variation is the amount. Some of us wish to work fewer hours and travel more or travel for longer before having to return home or go back to work. Free camping is a great option for many.
I have traveled across Australia, in fact, I have done so several times. I have whenever possible, free camped either as a traveler or for a weekend getaway with the kids. Recently I, like many nomads, travelled full time for over 10 years.
What are the mobile accommodation options?
In order to reduce accommodation costs, many people choose to take their accommodation with them.
This could be a motorbike or car and tent, camper trailer, wiz-bang van, caravan, motorhome, 5th wheeler (
Today they come in all shapes and sizes with so many variations.
To reduce costs even further you can choose to free camp overnight, or for longer periods of time, in places where you don’t have to pay any fees, or maybe just a minimal fee.
This could be a family member’s property, a roadside stop, a gravel pit, a state forest camp area, a national park campground, behind a service station, or even on a spare block of dirt along the side of the road. There are lots of outdoor camping spots scattered across our great country.
What amenities should be considered when free camping?
Some places have amenities and others do not. Therefore it is important that we take some sort of toilet and shower with us. The days of going behind a tree are not recommended simply because our population is increasing and there are now so many people traveling.
As the urban sprawl continues to creep into what was once camping areas, there are fewer places to stop, therefore if we don’t clean up our mess as we go – then someone else will be camping in it.
Just not a nice thought.
Please make sure a portable toilet of some description is included in your travel vehicle if you plan to stay away from amenities. There is a government website that lists all public toilets in Australia including showers as well. Google toiletmap.gov.au. There is also an app that you can download for your phone.
What else do we need if we are free camping?
Once we have selected our choice of vehicle, what else do we need? I will work through some choices – in no particular order.
Generally, most people start small by going away for weekends, then weeks, months, and maybe if you are lucky years (like me.
At the time of writing, I am now in my 6th year without a house).
We need all the usual items that we have at home like
- something to sleep on,
- clothes to wear and store,
- the means to cook and store food (unless we can afford to eat out for every meal),
- food utensils for cooking as well as eating
- power as required, 12volt or electricity,
- ability to source water for drinking as well as showering and cleaning.
We also need life’s little luxuries like entertainment and something to do to fill in time.
This could include things like
- cycling and the like.
Everyone is a little different, but if we stay in one place for any length of time then we need something to do.
As we travel another thing we need to consider is how to clean our clothing and linen.
Some people choose a small washing machine which is fine but you do have to consider the availability of water.
There are also products available that are basically a bucket that assists you to hand-washing your clothes.
Again these are also small and not ideal for larger, heavier items.
Drying clothes can be done by portable clotheslines, lines across caravan awnings, ropes across trees, and the like as well as dryers in laundries.
Most caravan parks have a reasonable-sized laundry if you do choose to stay there every so often, and of course, there are self-service laundromats across Australia.
Depending upon your choice of vehicle the main concern is storage and having enough clothes until you can wash larger items or loads.
Water – an essential.
Water is a major consideration when free camping.
Sometimes we have access to a river, dam, or water catchment where we can swim and get water to bathe and wash but mostly we need to store drinking water and bring it with us.
Unfortunately, many Towns do not have water points that you can access to fill up your water tanks.
There are some that provide free water at sports grounds or toilet dump points. Others provide water for a small fee, often $1 for around 100 – 150 litres. It is important when you travel to search on Google to find fill-up points.
There are many types of large storage tanks in all formal camping vehicles, but for some, it may be necessary to add tanks to store water.
This could be in the back of your vehicle or may even mean having containers of drinking water.
When first purchasing a new accommodation vehicle, get as much storage as you can so that you don’t overload the vehicle by adding this later.
Consider rubbish removal
Rubbish removal is also a big factor in outdoor camping. Most free camping areas do not have a bin to place rubbish and many roadside stops and bins in public places easily become full.
Take some consideration firstly in the type of packaging you buy and how you can store it until you can find a place to correctly dispose of it. Food scraps can be disposed of easily but should be buried as items such as bread can be very harmful to wildlife.
Sounds simple, leave bread out for the birds, but this is very harmful to them. So always consider very carefully how you dispose of your rubbish.
Bags left out can also attract wildlife during the night as well as ants and bugs so you need a container with a secure lid and a place to keep your rubbish that animals cannot access. Outdoor camping spots often abut bushland which is teeming with wildlife.
Power – Let there be light.
Another major issue to consider is power, cooling, and heating. On a camping front, this can be for cooking from barbecues, gas cookers, and electric cooking appliances. There are many types of each of these.
Gas is often used for heating water for showering, cooking, and warmth.
Lighting is generally 12volt (off batteries) and there are electrical appliances of both 12volt (battery) and 240volt (electricity). With larger battery/inverter systems there are now many electrical LED lights. If you want more information on solar systems, you can find it here.
To operate electrical appliances we need to plug them into a power-point. This could be at a caravan park or accommodation with power, a generator, or through a large battery/solar/inverter/recharge system.
There are wind systems, but generally, access to power when free camping means solar panels with batteries for storage to operate the 12-volt items and a portable generator for backup to charge batteries and operate some small appliances. Lithium battery systems allow extra storage capacity and can reduce some generator requirements.
The only issue to consider is that popular small lightweight generators are small but have a very limited power output which is OK for the weekend or occasional traveler but for those traveling a lot, bigger generators are better. Although many will argue that they don’t need anything bigger, I want to live when traveling – not exist and just get by.
Larger generators are heavy and need to be placed where they can be easily accessed, rather than lifted in and out to use. Most modern generators are
I find that as I travel I am continually finding new ways to do everyday things. In the past, I didn’t need to consider how much electricity I used, whether I should reduce my waste, or even how to conserve water. Now knowing this is extremely important.
I have sold or had access to many products over the past 6 years that directly relate to caravans and other vehicles for people who choose free camping as part of their travel plans. As I travel and constantly free camp I have personally used many products. My knowledge is from traveling full-time.
Are you considering kicking off the shackles of working full-time and starting your own journey? Follow me on social media for more updates, tips, and ideas to start your journey and create income streams that allow you to continue your travels.