Ever since lockdown and pandemic restrictions, a lot of travel enthusiasts have discovered innovative travelling techniques to continue their tryst with wanderlust. Some try car camping, a few are into van rides, but largely solo women tourists have not really come forward to experiment in this area. Safety can be the prime reason. But Kochi-based Tuna Bastin is throwing caution to the winds and experimenting with car camping.
Her tryst with car camping
It is the thought of safety and other issues related to the pandemic that made people realise the possibilities of trying car camping. Like this newly married Kerala couple who quit their well-paying jobs and are currently travelling the length and breadth of the country on a car, which has also been upgraded into a makeshift home. When Tuna had the idea of car camping, her first mission was in transforming her Punto car into travelling as well as a provisional home. She renovated the interiors with plywood and that cost a mere Rs 1000. The backseat was folded and fitted with a door hinge over a plywood board and then it was good to go. That provided enough space to cook and store.
Her first stop was at Vagamon and this was the first time she was camping outdoors in a car for four or five days. But that turned out to be quite an exhilarating experience for her. She loved waking up to the scent of flowers and the song of birds and sleeping under the starlit sky. For someone who has travelled India all by herself, she was keen to explore the little-known places in Kerala through car camping.
But then the 33-year-old Tuna Bastin who works at the Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Ltd is no stranger to travelling. Right from a noticeably young age, she seems to have been preparing for her future travel quests, that includes learning to drive a bike at the age of 13. Her 29-day trip which she started from Kochi with friend Sajna Ali on a TVS NTorq scooter to Leh had gained sufficient media attention back then. The second trip was for a noble cause—as part of a blood donation awareness for Federation of Blood Donation for Indian Organization, where she travelled from Kochi to Delhi, covering 9000 kms in 20 days. The campaign was to donate blood once in three months.
Currently she is looking forward to purchasing a better vehicle for her travels. Tuna recalls having to cut her journeys short when she used to stay in hotels. She wants to go back to Badrinath again in a car and spend time at the small villages there. Exploring Himachal, Uttarakhand and North east are on her next car camping trip.
Things to consider when you try car camping
Considering your stopover is your home during car camping, assure yourself of the safety of the location.
Discipline is the key during such camping.
Keep a low profile. Scan the site for dead or overhanging branches and trees. If you are planning to set up a tent near your car, make sure it is a flat, well-drained area.
When you camp in villages, make sure you do not disrupt their routine.
Switch off lights at night and avoid mobile phone use.
Park your car in a discreet location to not raise any nosiness of the onlookers.
Pack light. Only absolute essentials.
You should have a thorough knowledge about the places where you are planning to settle for the night.
Only basic cooking is needed. Better not to waste too much energy on that.
No need to unpack every item: leave some things, like your daypack, extra food, and extra clothes, in the car. This helps you stay organized and ensures you have some reserve supplies in the rare event that your campsite gets deluged.
It is an important practice to not leave any garbage behind. If you are in a place with access to waste bins, take the opportunity to throw out your garbage. This will keep your car from smelling rotten. If the stench will not go away, drive around with the windows down.
Organization gear for car camping
Cooler: You will need a quality cooler for keeping food/drink cold for long periods. This keeps them fresh and lowers the stink factor. Try Coleman or Cello chillers which are available on Amazon.
Digital Accessory Case: This waterproof organizer is great to store portable charger, cables, earphone, iPad mini, cord, customized inside with dividers. Check amazon.
Stacking Drawers: They come in plastic. And are great for storing non-perishable food and cookware. Also available are multipurpose storage organizers to stock your socks and undergarments. Also go for fabric Shoe bags or shoe organizer box (available on Amazon or flip kart)
Foldable Duffel bags: They work fine for extra organization or if you spend the night at someone’s house or a hotel, you can unfold it & throw your stuff in. There is some cool stuff on sky bags, safari, and amazon basics on Amazon. Also buy their Multipurpose cotton travel laundry bags.
Also carry these safety gears
LifeStraw Portable personal water filter purifier survival gear: This one can be put into water like a stream or a just a glass if you are travelling somewhere, you are concerned about the water.
Do not drain your batteries so get an interior LED light kit for your car.
Carry a portable digital Tyre inflater with carrying case and a car jump starter kit which also works as a USB port.
Also carry a variety of headlamps and flash lights.
Since you are car camping, you should go for a better mattress than a typical camp mattress. Go for an inflatable rectangular downy camping air bed mattress with foot pump (try amazon). Also try some comfortable travelling blankets and sleeping quilts.
Window screens are essential for privacy and safety from bugs.
Power inverter for laptop charging and a battery-operated fan.
Buying a hammock is a cool idea and a Bluetooth speaker for music, podcasts etc. A speaker with a good battery wont drain your car battery.