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One for the Road: what to expect living in a van full time

October 12, 2018
One for the Road: what to expect living in a van full time

Living in a van can be tough or easy, depending on how you look at it! Especially if this is a journey you’ve decided to embark on full time. My partner James and I have been on the road for around 3 months now and can definitely see the positive and negative aspects of choosing this life.

Here is what we have found so far:

Everything you own is always with you

This is a serious positive. Forgotten your swimmers? No problem! Just walk back to your van and get them. Feeling hungry? Just reach into your fridge (which is most likely next to you) and grab out what you want to eat.


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That beautiful destination is only a drive away

This is one of the best things about living in a van full time! We don’t have the restrictions of a job or mortgage meaning we can get up and go anytime we like. If we’ve found a new bucket list destination we want to visit, we pack up our awning and we’re on our way!

Pull up anywhere!

This one's a beauty! The fact that we can literally pull up anywhere is a great feeling. We can detour off any track, to find any beach, and if we like it, set up for the day!

You’re always living in a small space

As I mentioned before, everything you own is always with you. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you’ve packed. We haven’t packed too heavily, so we do have a comfortable amount of space. However, we can only just sit up on our bed meaning there is that much room to spread out. Sometimes we miss our comfy lounges and big bedroom back home, but we won’t be trading this experience in for those comforts anytime soon.


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You’ll be surprised when you lose things!

You only have a van to lose things in, so when you do it will come as a surprise. By now, you’ve probably maximised space in every nook and cranny possible, meaning there are more places to lose things. Items we are always losing are sunglasses, SD cards and (can you believe it?) our phones!

Your mode of transport is your home

It’s a harsh reality to face but if something goes wrong with your van, you lose your home. Ensure you have a level of roadside assistance that will also put you up in accommodation for a few nights.

It feels like you’re always food shopping!

Having a smaller fridge then normal means you aren’t able to buy what you normally would at home. Our fridge holds enough for 3 days and then after that we are back to the fruit markets stocking up again. It does keep us accountable for what we buy as we make sure nothing goes to waste. It also means our food is always fresh.


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You realise how much you rely on water

Washing dishes, doing laundry and obviously showering are all things we take for granted back home. Washing the dishes usually means walking to the camp kitchen, or if you’re staying on the road for the night you’ll have to make sure you have a tub and some water to do the washing up, in the dark!

You dream about checking into a hotel

We won’t lie, we do sometimes dream about checking into a hotel. The comforts of having a larger space to stretch out and move around in are tempting! Although, we try not to give in. It’s a lot cheaper checking into a holiday park, setting out the awning and our chairs and enjoying the outdoors.


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Sleep times change

One thing we have found is we usually go to bed earlier and get up earlier! As James is a photographer we were used to getting up for sunrise back home for golden hour, however now that we go to bed earlier this is a lot easier.

Card games are your new best friend

We love card games and have even started a championship for our road trip around Australia! While we do have a large amount of data (over 180 GB!) we have found that we love a game of cards over a glass of red wine in the outdoors! It’s a lot more fun than sitting on the lounge all night watching Netflix! We always have a good laugh.

There’s no air con!

If you’ve decided to live the van life, expect to have no air con if you’re not driving! This is one of the little luxuries we do miss from home. Especially as we travel further north into tropical north Queensland.


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Finding signal

At home, we were so used to always having signal. On the road this isn’t so easy. No signal means no wifi and this isn’t the best when you’re trying to find somewhere to stay for the night! We are with Telstra and haven’t had too much trouble, except in the Daintree Rainforest. But why would you need reception in these beautiful parts of our country anyway, right!

The route will always change

One day you’ll think you have a plan and within 5 minutes it will have changed! This can purely be because of a change of mind, or something out of your control such as the weather or a closed highway. Expect this to happen and you won’t have a problem accepting it.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows

It will rain, you probably will get a flat tyre and you will end up getting annoyed sooner or later, but we wouldn’t change a thing! We truly believe the positives outweigh the negatives and wouldn’t trade this trip in anytime soon. The ease of cruising from destination to destination is what keeps us living in our van full time and we hope to be doing this for the next year (or two!)