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Before you go

Before you buy your rig

Buying your BYO accommodation is very much like buying a house. When buying a house people consider the basics like how many people need to sleep in it, what sort of mod cons are required, the layout and even the colour scheme or the ability to change it. So much variety, so many choices; where does one start?

Your choice of vehicle
First and foremost, you will need a reliable vehicle, and one capable of pulling weight. And you do not necessarily need a four wheel drive. Australia's roads are predominantly bitumen, so a two wheel drive will get you most places. If you decide to go off road and don't own a 4WD, you have the option of paying a tour company to put their vehicles through the wear and tear. And with a tour group, you generally get the commentary and meals thrown in.

Your choice of accommodation
As for your BYO accommodation, there is a huge range. From a tent to camper trailers, campervans, pop-tops, full caravans, buses, 5th wheelers, motor homes, there is definitely a lot to choose from. You need to determine what suits you, the individual. You obviously won't need an off road caravan if you plan to visit the wineries. Nor will you consider a camper trailer if you must take everything you own. Such a big decision to make but here are a few tips:

Perhaps hire your accommodation of choice before committing to buying. This is a great way to put it to the test and self determine the positives and negatives. Hiring will provide you with the ability to change your mind or to proceed with the purchase with confidence.

You don't need to buy new nor spend a lot of money to get on the road. A well maintained second hand rig can be sold for the same price you paid once you have finished with it. If you buy right, you should sell right.

Wander through your local caravan park and talk to fellow nomads about what they like and dislike about their rig or what they would change.

Visit dealers or caravan and camping shows and ask lots of questions. Get them to show you how the hot water system works, how to switch the fridge from one power source to another, to explain the suspension, weight capacity, etc. Be sure to go inside and pretend you are actually using them. Pretend you are watching TV, preparing food, accessing cupboards and determine how practical, comfortable and sufficient the layout is.

Consider your options for self sufficiency.

Although you may plan to stay in caravan parks, a generator gives you the freedom to be independent; as not all caravan parks give you power 24/7. A generator allows for blackouts too.

Consider gas for your cook top as gas allows you to pull over anywhere, anytime and quickly make a cuppa or meal when needing a rest without the need of a power point or generator.

A three way fridge is highly recommended for self sufficiency. Generally they are run on battery whilst towing, gas whilst free camping and 240 volt when paying for a powered site.

A battery setup to run your fridges and supply you with lights without 240 volt is recommended. Batteries can be a great idea for free camping as generators arent always encouraged after dark.

We found a 9kg gas bottle would run one fridge and provide us with gas cooking for approximately one month when free camping.

If you are thinking Solar, amorphous solar is more shade tolerant, flexible and cost effective than mono crystalline or poly chrystalline. However, if you have the latter, a detachable panel means you don't have to park your rig in the sun to benefit.

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