Our rig is a 20ft New Age caravan with double bunks and a toilet/shower combo. Our biggest concern early on was how were we going to go off the grid and use much less water. In fact, this was basically our only limiting factor when going off the grid.
In hindsight, if we were choosing our van again we would have an additional tank added for drinking water only (lots of people have this already, but we don’t). I would also install a Pura Tap or other similar filter under the sink for the drinking water. We carry 140 litres, but more would have been better. If you have the capacity to carry more, then I would advise that you do.
Here are a few other tips that will save you water along the way.
- Use paper plates and paper bowls when you go off the grid instead of washing up your usual plates and bowls.
- Make paper towel your friend. It is great to use instead of rinsing your dishes, give them a wipe over first. It will keep your sink water cleaner and will use less water.
- Wash dishes only once a day and prep your lunches and snacks in the morning at breakfast.
- Only fill up your sink 1/3 or 1/4 of its capacity. If you choose to rinse, then pack a flexi washing tub, fill it with a small amount of water and rinse in that.
- Be minimalistic with your meals when going off the grid. Consider what you are going to need to use in the way of utensils and cooking equipment. If it is going to use too much equipment then maybe save that recipe for a caravan park.
- Make meal planning your friend and have a plan in advance. Meal prep at caravan parks before you head off again. When we are at a caravan park I do all of my baking and snack prep for the kids so that I can freely wash up and make a mess (as I always do). This usually involves making the kids some muffins, bliss balls and other baked goods and also cooking up some curries and other messy dinners to freeze.
- Vacuum seal your food. Not only will this save you time but it makes for simple reheating and is mess free. When you use the vacuum seal bags, they can be reheated in a pot of hot water. So unlike containers or sandwich bags, you don’t need to dirty a pan or pot to reheat your meal. Simply place the vacuum seal bag in a pot of boiling water and heat! I will do this for curries and at times if I have pre-cooked portions of chicken for the kids. Take a pot, add some noodles, carrots, broccoli and your portion of vacuum sealed and cooked chicken and reheat. So easy, one pot wonder!
- Use drink bottles and not cups. Cups create extra washing up particularly when the kids forget which cup was theirs. I purchased a few good quality Tupperware drink bottles and just write our names on them with a permanent marker. We use and refill. If you choose drink bottles make sure you put a baby brush on your van list for when they need a good wash.
- Manage hand washing and teeth brushing so the tap is not left on. Much of our water is used in dishwashing and hand washing. Unfortunately that will take a bit of nagging and reminding to get the kids in the habit.
- Keep a stash of baby wipe (or similar) for ‘washing’ the kids some days. Kids don’t need showers everyday.
- Use your washing basket as a ‘bath tub’. Place it in the shower and allow your basket to collect the shower water when the kids are showering. My youngest loves to then sit and have a quick bath, but you could use it for washing dirty feet or quickly rinsing simple things like sand toys or swimmers.
- Manage showers. Get wet, turn off the tap, lather up and then quickly rinse. It is the same when washing your hair. Put your shampoo and everything in your hair with your taps off!
- Carry extra jerry cans of water. We purchased some from Bunnings for $20 for 20 litres and they have been amazing. At times they are used to refill our tanks when we don’t wish to move the van, we do also use them to carry extra water. We have 5 jerry cans which gives us an extra 100 litres of water! If water is your limiting factor then you can also consider getting a bladder made specifically for your car. Some bladders can fit behind your rear seats, others on the floor of the rear seats. You can check some out at Fleximake.
- Whilst it may be tempting to pack really lightly in regard to clothing, consider that when you have limited water you may not have access to water for a washing machine or simply a washing machine. We have one in the van, however if off the grid for 4-7 days I won’t use it as it sucks up too much water. Make sure you have enough clothing and underwear for a week for each member of your family.
- Make Wiki Camps your friend. Use the drinking water filter to find out where you can get your clean water. This is particularly useful when in Western Australia.