What to take on the road – tips to get you started

There are some people who simply take a backpack with some money, a toothbrush, and a few items of clothing. Deciding what to take on the road is reasonably easy.

For those of us who are less adventurous and prefer a bit more comfort the amount of items we choose to take will differ depending on the style of accommodation we choose and the available space.

What to take on the road starts with transport.

Transport will depend upon where we are going. If we are headed overseas, we may need to buy or hire transport on our arrival or decide to travel by bus, train, plane, or some other transport method. The items we take may vary or may need to be sourced upon arrival.

Depending upon the destination, we could take our accommodation with us, or opt to stay in motels or other paid accommodation. Whatever choice we make, how long we intend to travel for, and the money available for the journey, will affect which items become essential.

Once you have the destination, transport, and accommodation decided you will know how much space you have. Next, you need to look at things like how you will eat. Will you eat out or prepare your own?

There are life’s essentials, good-to-haves, and some things that you can do to prepare for your journey.

Have a test-run

I recommend that you do some shakedown runs, over a few weekends or a couple of weeks at a time before you take any long trips.  This will give you an idea of what you may wish to include or exclude on longer trips. 

A little preparation and thought can make a huge difference to the outcome of your journey.  Even if you plan on overseas travel, test-driving around home locations can still give you some guidance.

Then comes the opportunity to test-drive for a longer period. A 2 to 3-month time frame is a good idea to ensure you can handle being together in a small space, packing and unpacking, or stand the solitude if you are a lone traveler.

Once you are certain that you can handle it for a while, you need to think about whether you will just do a one-off round trip, travel for a few months at a time, and return home, or jump in boots and all and become a full-time traveler.

A longer test drive will also give you an idea of whether you need to find ways to entertain yourself or consider tools to help you with your hobbies.  Shoes for hiking, equipment for photography, options to read, how to listen to music or watch movies online – whatever you enjoy most.

Thanks to Starlink and the mobile model, Australia now has internet access everywhere along with associated mobile phone access with some providers. This adds an extra level of safety due to the ability to communicate. Access to this may differ depending on your destination, transport, and accommodation choices.

In my post, Nomads in Australia, I cover some of the basic essentials that you should consider in your preparation for the Australian nomad life.  I will now dig a little deeper into each category.

Please Note:  Depending on your choice of accommodation, there will be many options.  You may find limitations depending on your accommodation type or you may find some features required for one type of set-up come standard in another.

For example, a tent option would require a bed, mattress, or swag whereas most other options have some type of sleeping included.

What are the basic necessities you should take for your travels?

I consider the basic necessities in travel life to be finance,  food, shelter, health & hygiene,  power, and entertainment.

With these six basic necessities in mind, I made a general list of things to consider in your travels.  When you holiday for a few weeks, you can ‘make do’ and go without.  However, when you live on the road you shouldn’t have to go without the things that make your life so enjoyable


When you become a nomad you do need to consider finance as some things simply need to be paid for. There are many different budget options you can choose from including working as you go, but somehow you will need to find money to eat and move on. 

You can walk or cycle from point A to point B, but if you want to travel by motor vehicle then fuel needs to be paid for.

Bush Tucker may be available in some areas if you know how to recognize it but I certainly prefer my meat and veg.

Likewise, you might be able to supplement your food with fish and wild crustaceans, but staying in one place and eating the same thing every day is certainly not my idea of fun long term.

Too little is certainly a problem, but you don’t need a lot. It is about having sufficient

Money makes life a little easier and puts food on the table, allows us to sightsee whilst traveling, and covers the cost of doing so.  It is often required in order to perform vehicle maintenance,  replace clothing and shoes as time passes, and enable us to enjoy our adventure.  

Whether you have a fixed income source or work as you go is not the point – you just need to have the means to make ends meet to your personal satisfaction and you are ready to go.


We need to eat but everyone has individual tastes.  In the food list, I have added some basics to consider, however, you must always consider your accommodation type and budget.  If you can afford to eat out every day, then you may not require cooking equipment! 

Some accommodation venues may have options for cooking, refrigeration, laundry, and water, but sometimes other things need to be considered especially if you plan to stay away from townsites.

  • Cooking & eating equipment – stove, pots and pans, barbeque, slow cooker, thermal cooker, air fryer, cutlery, cooking utensils, crockers, knives and forks, large knives, peeler, grater, drinking utensils, food storage containers.
  • Water – storage containers, filter systems
  • Staples – depending on your taste, flour, sugar, rice, pasta, spices, condiments, meat, vegetables, tin & packet options. Most staples are best kept in storage containers to prevent pest infestations.
  • Refrigeration – The size and type of refrigerator you have will determine whether you can shop in bulk, weekly, or daily.  Many accommodation options have an option of some type and you may consider a portable unit if room allows. Refrigerators and Freezers are available in 12-volt, 240-volt, or Gas. Esky and coolers are options but often are better suited for short-term travel.
Crabs can be caught for food


  • Bedding – swag, mattress, pillows, camp bed, blanket, doona, sleeping bag, electric blanket, hammocks
  • Linen – towels, bed sheets, tea towels, flannels
  • Clothing – for hot weather, cold weather, and everything in between.  Mix and match is good as is a range of light and warm jackets and pants.  Consideration for wet weather is advisable, such as an umbrella.
  • Footwear – depending on whether you are planning on going out often, hiking or riding, or just sitting around the campfire.
  • Heating – some form of heating should be considered depending on your power availability.  A fan heater, electric blanket, diesel or gas heater, or a campfire.
  • Cooling – plenty of windows, electric fan, 12-volt fans, air conditioner.
  • Outdoor seating and shade or rain cover. Awning, marquee.

Health & Hygiene

  • First Aid Kit
  • Vitamins and Medicines
  • Cleaning – household, dishes, personal, laundry washing & drying,
  • rubbish collection
  • Absolutions – Showering (fixed or portable) 
  • Hot Water – Gas (fixed or portable), the ability to heat in a pot or solar bag
  • Privacy cubicle – if a bathroom is not contained within the accommodation.
  • Toilet – portable if not contained within the accommodation.
  • Pest Control – fly swat, fly paper, ant powder, mosquito coils, mouse trap, insect zapper.


I have included power because we no longer use items such as kerosene for lighting.  There are many different types of power that can be used today for refrigeration, lighting, and everyday appliances.

solar panel for power when traveling
Solar Panel
  • Batteries.  These usually control lighting, and refrigeration and can work with smaller appliances such as electric fans or blankets & sleep apnea machines through an inverter.  Larger items can be used if you have a large battery bank, plenty of solar panels, and a backup generator.  The accommodation type generally limits the amount of power that can be supplied through a 12-volt system, however, I understand that lithium battery options are moving along in leaps and bounds.  However, this is a more expensive option.
  • Solar Panels – Portable and/or fixed depending upon your available roof space and the items you wish to use through the 12-volt system.
  • Generator – a small generator will supply backup power to charge batteries when the sun is not shining, and run some small appliances.  Larger generators are available and will power more items.  For the long-term traveler, a larger generator will mean that you can choose to free camp when it is very hot or very cold.  A smaller generator is good if you have the funds to go to caravan parks or other powered sites when more power is required.
  • Fuel containers.  Depending on whether you use petrol, diesel, or gas for power and/or cooking it is advisable to have some spare fuel in an approved container.
  • Wind Generator.  There are wind generators available that will help top up the batteries at night and when the wind is blowing.  They are an additional option but not one that I have personally used.


What do you like to do for fun? This section is very personal and everyone is different. Here are some options to pass the time whether you are camping on one spot or even traveling along the road.  This list is obviously not complete but may give you some ideas on items to take on your journey.

  • walking, hiking, or bike riding
  • reading
  • listening to music or the TV
  • cards and board games
  • Computer and the Internet
  • bird watching
  • photography
  • arts and crafts
  • swimming
  • fishing and hunter-gathering
  • prospecting and fossicking

The Golden Rule of Travel

The golden rule of travel is if you have room to take something with you, then you have room to take it out.  The only thing that you should leave behind is your footprints.

Many camping spots do not have rubbish collection. If there are no facilities available where you choose to stay, take your rubbish with you and dispose of it correctly.

Be considerate of others and ensure you have a toilet of some kind if you are not staying where toilets are provided.

It sounds fine to use the bush as a toilet and bury your waste. There are two major problems with this, firstly animals do dig it up and secondly, if you find a nice spot, someone else probably will too and could very well camp in the exact spot you chose as a toilet. I have seen this happen when people set up tents where others have emptied their cassettes. Not nice.

The most important rule of all is to have a great adventure and enjoy every moment.



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