Car Camping for Beginners — the Off-Grid Guide

Car camping beginner tips

Start small.

Do you have aspirations of long, lone car camping expeditions  – just you, your car and your dog? Well those are great but if you’re starting out, maybe do a short trip first. We’re talking one night in a local area. Car camping close to home offers all the adventure and excitement of a great trip but in familiar surroundings. There’s no need to throw yourself in the deep end immediately, you can even start in your driveway (if it’s flat enough)

Hit up HipCamp for some car camping campsite inspiration near you.

Know your stuff.

Australia is pretty big, so before you get ready to set off it’s a good idea to decide where you actually want to visit.

Check camping regulations: Research the camping rules and permits required for your chosen destinations. National parks, private campgrounds, and even some roadside rest areas may have specific guidelines.

Season and weather: four seasons in one day – there’s literally a song about it. Consider all possibilities and plan accordingly. Keep an eye on the forecast when you plan to head out. On the plus side, car camping is much more secure than a tent and if it really gets dicey, you can just drive home!

Research campgrounds: Look for established campgrounds with amenities such as toilets, showers, and potable water if you prefer those comforts. Alternatively, you can explore free camping options or stay on private properties.

Book in advance: Popular campgrounds can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons. Consider booking in advance to secure your spot.

Don’t fall into the ‘gear’ trap.

Everyone loves gear and gadgets and the pull is strong to buy everything all at once, but you don’t need to go overboard. Start your car camping forays with some quality, staple basics. The car camping starter bundle includes the Air Mattress 2.0window screens, a fitted sheet and seatback organiser. It’s all the essentials you need for a comfortable night’s sleep in your car. Add a blanket and pillow and you’ll literally be a happy camper.

Do a test run.

The call of the open road may be strong, but use the practical part of your brain for a minute. You have all this new, amazing gear – do you know how to set it up? Before you embark on your car camping endeavour, do a test run, a dress rehearsal of your gear. Make sure you know how to set it up, make sure it’s functional and comfortable, make sure everything is charged!

It’s much easier to do this in the comfort of your own home than potentially getting caught out in the middle of nowhere.

Leave No Trace.

Respect the environment, pack out your trash, minimise your impact, and leave the campsite as you found it.

Have your car camping packing list ready to go.

Preparedness is next to godliness – here’s a list we prepared earlier!

Download it here