Living life off the grid
Self-sustainability is the ultimate goal when camping. Here, we’ve got 5 top tips to help you live life in the slow lane.
Going ‘off-grid’ – away from modern technology, unreachable by phone or email, and totally self-sustainable when it comes to power – is, for many people, absolute camping nirvana. But it’s not an easy state to reach. Getting to that level of comfortable self-sustainability takes planning, preparation, research, sacrifice and, in some cases, a decent amount of dough to set yourself up properly. Sure, you could just throw the swag over your shoulder and head bush with nothing more than the clothes on your back and, for some, that’s the only way to do it. But most of us require at least a little more comfort at camp.
So if peace, quiet and solitude away from civilisation is what you’re after, we’ve got 5 top tips to help you get there…
Camping and summer go hand-in-hand so, chances are, you could be travelling in the heat of the summer. An RV air-conditioner is off-limits unless you’re packing a huge onboard inverter (which takes self-sustainability – and cost – to a whole new level!) so consider 12V fans for your van, motorhome or camper. Modern 12V fans are impressively quiet and draw very little power so you could even use them all night long, if required. But if you really want to get back to nature and save the planet, travel in cooler weather, point your rig to cooler climes, or park up by the water and hope for a cooling breeze!
If you’re truly going ‘off-grid’ you shouldn’t have any need for power-hungry portable devices such as phones, tablets or laptops but if, like many campers, you need a phone for emergencies or an iPad to keep the kids entertained (and, let’s face it, that’s a non-negotiable, sometimes!) you also need a way to charge them. If you have them, the 12V outlets in your RV are usually the best method of charging, but you could also add a portable power pack for charging on the go.
Just because you’re roughing it, doesn’t mean to have to forgo your morning coffee! It might not be barista-brewed but there’s no reason to settle for less, even out bush. 240V capsule coffee machines are best left at home unless you’re packing the aforementioned inverter but there are lots of good 12V espresso options or even completely manual coffee presses like the environmentally-friendly Rok Espresso Maker. And it’s guaranteed to taste even better if you’ve pressed the beans by hand!
FOOD AND DRINK
If you’re planning to stay away more than a couple of days, your most important, must-have item is a fridge. But you’ll also find this is one of the hungriest appliances you can carry, in terms of power. Modern RV fridges can run on either 240V/12V or gas, so you’ve definitely got options, even when you’re without mains power. Whichever way you go, ensure your batteries or gas supply is sufficient and use common sense to help keep your fridge, and its contents, as cool as possible. Pre-cool the fridge and its contents on mains power before you leave home, don’t open the door more than is needed (listen up, kids!), make sure it’s well-vented, park in the shade if possible and keep the fridge as full as possible to help it stay at the right temperature more easily.
Water, rather than power, is one of the major limiting factors to the amount of time you can spend off-grid. You might have days of power supply left but, if you run out of drinking water, you’ll be heading back to town in a hurry. So carry as much fresh drinking water as you can in your RV tanks and even some extra jerry cans, have a separate tank for showering/dishwashing/general use (if possible) and set up a system to allow you to draw water from creeks or other sources, and consider installing a hand pump instead of (or as well as) an electric water pump. It’ll save on power (an electric pump is one of the heaviest power users in your RV) but also on water use. It might not be practical for showering but it’s great for everything else.
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