Doing a Big Lap of Australia (or any long road trip for that matter) often involves calling a campervan or caravan home for a while.
Here, we get some tips and hacks to living life on four wheels from those behind the hugely successful Van Life Diaries blog (and now book).
Van life certainly has its perks
1. Find those hot showers
Having a hot shower option when living full-time or part-time in a van is a big thing for me that makes it feel more like a home.
2. Try to camp for free
Look for free camp options in nature as often as you can. I love the van lifestyle of travelling and exploring Australia as it cuts down on accommodation costs. I always have all the gear I need with me, and, most importantly, I have my bed with me wherever I go!
3. Have some respect
If you are in a city or town and you want to free park for the night, find a safe place to park, don’t be loud and bother those with homes, leave early and don’t leave rubbish or clean your teeth on their sidewalk.
4. Don’t be shy
Start conversations with fellow travellers along the way to build community and find out about the best waterfalls, beaches, lakes and walks from them, and from the locals too. I enjoy having conversations with the local community, raising awareness about our conscious van-living community who care about nature and people and want to have a minimal impact on the places they enjoy.
5. Utilise op shops
Being light packers, we buy 90 per cent of our essentials from thrift stores, [from] bedding to kitchenware, and additional clothes depending on the season. Generally we will take one jumper, a jacket and, if it’s colder than expected, buy another one there.
Unpacking and ‘moving in’ to the van is like coming home. When everything has its place and I am not digging through my suitcase like a madman, I can immediately absorb experiences faster and feel more present and relaxed.
7. Embrace change
Travelling in a van is for those open to change. You can journey at your own pace, savouring experiences with the people you cherish, or seek a different path, creating a once-in-a-lifetime trip of your own design.
8. Choose your own adventure
When looking for an adventure vehicle, ask yourself what kind of adventure you want to go on. You might already own a car or truck that can take you where you need to go, and you might be able to build it out for the type of trip you’re looking to go on. Also, don’t underestimate smaller rigs. It’s been nice travelling in a van like the older Toyota ones because I use my outdoor space as an extension of my living space.
Attend [traveller] gatherings or meet-ups if they are close by or on your route. It can be quite lonely travelling around in a van and it’s nice to find like-minded people to be able to share conversations and meals with.
Take periods of rest; travelling can be tiring on the body. Find areas where you can camp for more than a few days, whether that’s national parks or a friend’s backyard. Every so often, it’s nice to take a hot shower, do a load of laundry and clean out your rig.
Vanlife Diaries: Finding Freedom on the Open Road by Kathleen Morton, Jonny Dustow and Jared Melrose (Hardie Grant, $39.99) is available now.