The current concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic and all the various lockdowns by the jurisdictions, together with the associated societal shifts, has affected how campers and travellers get out and about. Specifically, I’m talking ablutions and toileting and why having your own camping ensuite and toilet facility is now more important than ever.
COVID-19 Public Toilet Affect To Travellers
I’m not sure if you’ve seen it but caravan parks, camping grounds, national parks, service stations and council facilities are becoming more and more restrictive on which facilities are open. The number of stalls and showers being kept open and even who can use them has changed dramatically.
Some large service stations in regional areas that once made their showers available to bonafide travellers are
now closed off to the casual traveller and (quite rightly) now being dedicated to long-distance truckers. Those wishing to use the showers are required to produce their driver’s licence and the level of licence will indicate their eligibility. I guess too that wearing a Jackie Howe singlet will help in determining one’s validity (no offence intended).
I’ve even been through small towns where the decision has been seemingly made to lock off the public toilets and barricade it with safety fencing. Presumably for the reason that they are unable to keep the toilets cleaned to the now higher levels of cleanliness or just to remove the need to clean them with reduced staffing or funds. I’ve seen one showground where they had removed the steel access stairs to their toilet and shower blocks.
Shop keepers too are tending to tell you that the closest amenities are down the road, around the corner, over the footbridge and just before you get to the next town (I may be exaggerating).
On a trip to Victoria (before the worst of the lockdowns happened) I witnessed first-hand the fact that caravan parks had locked off their amenities blocks and were only accepting bookings by travellers who were fully self contained or were booking ensuite sites. Meaning you had a shower and toilet dedicated to that specific site’s use.
Check out how Ally and Mark handled this at the Jerilderie Motel and Caravan Park – https://www.facebook.com/2212201155696119/posts/2480875568828675/.
Then there’s the perceived growing reluctance of some to actually use shared facilities at caravan parks. This is ofcourse is a personal preference and I’m not judging.
For a more detailed discussion on this, you may like to have a read of my earlier blog here: https://campandtravel.com.au/covid19-post-lockdown/.
Off-Grid Camping Abulution Options
Much of this actually pushes some travellers and campers to free-camp (aka off-grid) as they are unable to be fully self-contained, or out of preference to avoid the crowds (perhaps).
For the larger campers, caravans and motorhomes these trends don’t really present an issue as the majority are kitted out with showers, portable toilets, batteries, battery charging, gas, solar panels, potable water tanks and grey water tanks (for sink and shower waste).
For the smaller camper trailers, caravans, campervans (whizz-bangers) and tenters, they can get by with an ensuite shower or toilet tent, which can be one room or two. It just depends on whether you can put the portable toilet inside the camper when needed or if you can handle the toilet getting wet when you have a shower (and if there’s room).
Then, of course, there’s those who are perhaps more bold and wait until sundown to sneak a quick shower or can live grabbing a spade and going for a walk.
Planning A Camping Trip During COVID-19
The flow-on (excuse the pun) effect of all this is water, and specifically the need to either carry it with you or source at the places you camp. This even includes the now socially expected washing of your hands and use of sanitisers. Not to mention social distancing.
Whichever category you fit into, and wherever you intend travelling and camping, the ablutions and toileting arrangements are something that need to be carefully considered in this ‘New Normal’.
For the ‘boys’ and their mates who duck-off to see how far they can bury their 4X4 rigs in mud or how far up (or down) a steep cliff face they can drive, things may not have changed much. Besides, you can always shower when you get home (right fellas?).
But for those who live a more civilised lifestyle, you need to do some checks on the facilities at the places you intend visiting, chat with the proprietors, make appropriate bookings and check again closer to your arrival date. Ensure you carry the necessary equipment (from shovels and toilet paper to shower setups and portable toilets) with enough water. Check for water resupply points and waste dump points along the way and think about the needs (and expectations) of all in the group your are travelling with.
Achieving Your Best Camping (Abulution) Set Up
If you’re looking to upgrade your camping set-up (be it a tent or a caravan) or perhaps panning to buy a new or second hand one for the first time, have a close look around and think about what it is that you need. Be sure that it meets your expectations in ‘comfort’ and what’s required for where you want to camp. This includes checking out what may initially cost a little more to perhaps ‘future-proof’ your camping and travel needs. What’s your targeted level of entry and does it include an ensuite, or can one be fitted?
Not to be ignored is the budgetary constraints. At the lower end, you’ll need to factor in the purchase of an ensuite tent (double or single) and a portable toilet in the purchase of your current or next rig. But don’t forget to include the longer-term embuggerance costs of erecting the ensuite tent, which include:
- wandering outside at night (in the wet and cold),
- any restrictions on the shower water flowing to the ground,
- standing on the wet ground,
- night time (scary) silhouettes,
- connecting water, and
- pulling it all down (phew).
Our recent Jayco Caravan purchase included an on-board ensuite with shower and toilet, two water tanks, provision for two jerry cans (that’s another 40 litres of water), a grey water tank, two solar panels, two AGM batteries and a battery management system. With this, I think we’ll be able to ride-out most zombie attacks and maintain acceptable levels of social distancing.
All the very best with your planning and please let me know what you’re thinking.