Living The Vanlife
“I want to live the vanlife. Let’s quit our jobs and travel around Australia in a campervan!” Drew Collins ~ September 2015.
These were the words that remained firmly planted in my mind for 2.5 years after my husband, Drew, explained that this was one of his life long dreams.
We are both free spirited wanderlusters, so it didn’t take much arm twisting at all for me to jump right on board with the idea.
However, the dream didn’t come to fruition until November 2017. (Our wedding in between it all kinda took priority).
The day finally arrived when I received a video message – I’ll set the scene for you…. Drew and his friend, Matt, sitting in the front seat of a campervan, the music blaring – “Hey, babe, look at what we now own! Campervan, baby!”
*Continues to dance and sing the incorrect words to the song*
I proceeded to scream and do a happy dance! It was actually happening. We were about to become vanlifers! Bring on the Instagram pics! #LookAtMeILiveInAVan
So, without anymore fluff, i’m going to break down 10 helpful, and practical tips you should know prior to embarking on an adventure of a lifetime. (If living the vanlife is on your bucket list).
1) You DO NOT Need All Of Those Outfits
Girls, i’m looking at you.
I was guilty of this. I thought, “oh, but what about when i’m in the middle of the desert and I want to take a pic. I’ll need those 10 different dresses/outfits to make sure the juxtaposition of the colours of the desert and my dress is on point”. #ForTheGram
STOP. You know the colour of a desert, choose 1 outfit, and move on. Less luggage = less weight = less petrol costs = more money.
If you’re travelling with a partner or friend, keep in mind that’s even more weight and storage taken up with clothes that you’ll most likely never wear.
2) Take Non-perishable Food
Tinned or canned food. It’s a lifesaver when you’re a nomad/gypsy/vanlifing/on the road for an extended period of time.
Baked beans can be made into casseroles, curries, and of course – breakfast.
Tinned veggies, whilst not ideal, as fresh is always best, are also a life saver. They can add texture and needed nutrients to any meal. They last for what seems like forever, and again, will save you some cash instead of always needing to buy more.
Of course, do your best to take some fresh fruit and veggies with you, and simply eat them before they go rotten.
Being vegan was also a huge advantage as we didn’t have to worry about any meat of any kind going off.
3) Stock Up On Lots Of Water Before Hitting The Road
When first venturing out, and whenever you have a pit stop, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, take a surplus of water and have a spare stash.
Have more than you need at all times.
You never know when you may just break down and be stuck in the middle of nowhere in the heat, having to sleep on the side of a creepy freeway in the pitch black dark, awaiting an agressive thunder and lightning storm to pass, all the while expecting some crazed maniac to come and kill you.
Think i’m exaggerating? This happened to us. Wolf Creek seemed a little too real this night!
Water. Take lots!
4) Know How Far You Can Travel On A Full Tank & Where The Next Closest Service Station Is
Prior to embarking on your trip, ensure you have filled your campervan petrol tank up to full, and have measured how many KM you get on a full tank.
Download service station apps that tell you where the next closest one is so you know whether or not you will need to fill up.
Trust me, it’s not a nice feeling thinking you’re not going to make it to the next service station and you may just perish on the side of the road.
Yep, again, this happened. Luckily, we made it with maybe 2 drops of petrol to spare.
5) Always Have A Spare Jerry Can Of Fuel
Expanding on #4. Australia is HUGE, And you can be driving for 5 hours and literally see nothing except dirt roads, deserts and a few random shrubs.
The last thing you need is to be 300km away from a petrol station and have your van flirting with the “E” of empty.
Save yourself the stress and be prepared, have an extra jerry can of fuel with you at all times for any unexpected hiccups.
6) Ensure Your Mobile Phone Provider Has Adequate Coverage In Rural Areas
You’ll come across plenty of places in Australia that are totally wild and uncivilised. You won’t see another driver for KM and KM, and it will most likely be only you and the long, open road for many hours.
Heaven forbid, but if some emergency were to happen, (again, like breaking down in the middle of nowhere like us, or finding yourselves in danger) you want to be able to phone for some help and also let loved ones know what’s happening and your exact whereabouts.
You also want to be contactable by others should they need to speak to you back home.
7) Stop. Revive. Survive.
They were onto something with this slogan.
At the slightest and very first sign of any tiredness, stop and pullover for a nap if you’re going solo, or swap drivers.
Have an agreement with yourself or companion to drive for no longer than 2 hours at a time before having a rest.
A micro sleep happens quickly and without warning. Stay safe and prevent accidents.
8) Enjoy Every Minute & Remember To Be Present
Whilst you’ll no doubt be chasing the perfect Insta pic, don’t let that get in the way of you enjoying the present moment, and the actual amazing experience you are currently having.
Put the phone down for a few hours or for the day and only use your partner’s phone for pics or your professional camera if you have one to capture the moment. This will help you avoid temptation to get caught up in social media.
The best moments are those captured with the eyes and heart. As cheesy as that may sound, it’s true.
9) Keep A Daily Journal
Write in it daily while the memory is fresh. It will bring a smile to your face when you re-read it a few months or years down the track.
Yes, you have photos, but reading a journal creates a different kind of nostalgia.
Plus, when you’re 100 years old, it will be great to read to your great grandchildren how you travelled around living the vanlife.
10) Take A Map & Plan Your Route Beforehand
Your phone dies, you have no charger, and phone reception/signal is non-existent for a moment. Enter: good ol’ fashioned paper maps. You never know when you’ll need it!
It may sound obvious, but have, at the very least, a plan of which direction you’ll be going in, and which places are campervan and camping friendly.
Pre-book any places you can, as the last thing you want is to turn up to a place and they’re booked out. You also don’t want to be driving around aimlessly looking for places to sleep, when all you want is a shower and a safe place to sleep after driving for a long time.
Vanlife really is an amazing, learning experience. You create some of the best and most magic memories, and you find places that you never knew existed.
You do need to be prepared, though. Yes, the beauty of vanlife is the spontanaity and being able to wake up in a different place every morning, but there’s always some preperation that needs to go into it beforehand.
If you’d like to see more of our vanlife adventures, feel free to follow mine and Drew’s journey @ https://www.instagram.com/joannasworldview/
Know anyone about to live the vanlife that may find this info helpful? Feel free to share and spread the love!