It’s no secret living the van life can be hard! While there are so many positives such as being able to explore a new beach every day or living to your own schedule, your health can deteriorate if you are not looking after yourself. When James and I were preparing for our trip around Australia, we knew we had to make a conscious effort to stay healthy whilst living on the road.
After a few months of living in a van full time, these are our tips to keep up a healthy lifestyle!
Roadside fruit and vegetables
Stopping off at roadside fruit and vegetable stalls not only keeps your diet fresh with natural foods, but it will save you money! These stalls are noticeably cheaper than the supermarkets. Plus, you’re giving back to the local farmers and getting quality, in season fruit and vegetables.
Our favourite little stall so far was in Crystal Creek, Queensland, where we found these pumpkins for $1! There was also red papaya, the biggest zucchinis we had ever seen, huge limes for 40 cents, delicious star apples and whole watermelons just to name a few. (You can find this for yourself on the way to the creek on Spiegelhauer Road, just off the Bruce Highway).
Healthy recipe choices
Buying fruit and vegetables from all the roadside stalls will encourage you to make healthy recipe choices! You can get super creative by throwing it all together into a delectable dish! Or if you aren’t very creative when it comes to cooking, you can literally just type the names of the ingredients you have into google to search for recipes. Easy! The meals don’t have to be fancy to taste good! A few meals we make are:
Vita Weats, avocado and tomato
This is my go-to lunch meal! The Vita Weats last ages and there has always been avocado and tomatoes around at the roadside stalls on this trip. It’s also really quick and easy to make. Add chilli flakes or salt to taste.
Falafel salad bowl
One of my favourite dishes I’ve made was this falafel salad bowl. The ingredients are simple. Spinach leaves, tomato, mushrooms, cucumber, smashed avocado with lemon juice, falafels, chili flakes and a lime wedge. This meal was surprisingly filling too.
Oats and fruit
Perfect for if you’re on a budget! The oats were very cheap and the packets are big! (Plus, the packaging is plastic-free). I’ve added rice milk to this bowl, but use any milk of your choice and whatever fruit you’ve picked up from the farms, top with honey, and you’ve got a yummy breakfast bowl.
Vegetables and egg noodles
This is one of our lazy dishes. I usually chop up the vegetables when I return back to our van after a day at the beach. Cutting up all the vegetables in the afternoon makes for some easy cooking when dinner time rolls around. We usually use zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, capsicum and carrot. We steam them up for about 10 - 20 minutes with some garlic, chilli flakes and oyster sauce. We love the egg noodles as they only need to sit in a bowl of water for a few minutes and they are finished. If you’re on a tight budget, substitute the egg noodles for rice. If you swap the sauces up, you’ve got a new dish every night!
Tip: Stay away from canned food! This may seem like the easy option while living on the road but after a while, your body will not be thanking you for it. Stick to fresh food and you’ll notice how much more energy you have.
Crack open those coconuts!
As you start travelling north you’ll notice the palm trees are full of coconuts! If you can get them down safely, crack them open. The coconut water is delicious, and you can eat the flesh afterwards. It’s the perfect pre-meal snack. If you don’t know how to open them, YouTube it! It can be a little tiresome.
Walk, ride or skate!
Make room for a skateboard or bike. We actually have both with us on this trip! Walking everywhere is good, but sometimes it’s not practical, especially when you’re in a big town. Being able to bike ride or skate gets you places a lot quicker too! We like the fact that we can set up our van and leave it in its spot. This is a real plus when you are staying at a caravan park that has unpowered, unmarked sites. Riding your bike down to the local supermarket also means you won’t lose your awesome spot at the campsite. Plus, you’ll be getting in your daily exercise!
Yoga or pilates
Practising yoga or doing a pilates session in your free time is the perfect way to wind down. I prefer doing this in the afternoon, but working it into your life on the road should be easy! If you’re not familiar with these or have never taken a class, there are an abundance of YouTube tutorials you can watch online. You could even try Tai Chi!
Keep your space clean
It’s important to not only look after your body, but also your mind. Keep your space clean by taking 10 minutes out of your day to organise your van and tidy your space. It’s where you are living after all, and it is small! Having a clear space helps with having a clear mind free from stress. We pack, repack and clean our space daily. We also make time to clean our fridge, draws and kitchen area. Our sheets, clothes and towels are washed weekly (although we do have doubles of everything in case we push this out to two weeks). This ensures our van is always fresh and hygienic.
Keep your mind active
Hopping from beach to beach, up and down the coast, can make you want to just slip into “island time”. However, we keep our minds active on the road by working a couple of hours every few days. If you’re not going to be working on the road, there are lots of activities you can do to keep your mind active!
- Learn a language - there are so many apps you can download which makes this simple!
- Self-teach yoga - as mentioned earlier, you can access so many videos online.
- Do an online course - enrol in a course you can do by correspondence.
- Watch tutorials on video editing (or another skill you are passionate about) - you’ll not only be learning something new, but it’s extremely rewarding when you self-teach, and master it!
- Keep a journal - remember these times on the road forever by keeping a journal you can look back on in 10 years time. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can forget the name of a little secret beach cove you found one morning!
Have everything you need
Ensure you don’t “over simplicate” by trying to cut back on what you need to bring with you on the road. It will actually stress you out more. Know what you need and bring it with you. If you find you don’t have enough room for what you’ve bought and are happy to part with it, give it to another camper instead of throwing it away. It’s surprising how little overseas backpackers have in their campervans and they are always so grateful to be given something, even if it is just food.
Keep in touch with family and friends
Living on the road means you’re away from your family and your friends. Make the time to call them and hear how they are and what they are up to! Share your experiences with them and laugh over facetime! It’s like a breath of fresh air hearing their voices.
Positivity is key
Being positive even during unexpected hiccups on the road will keep you sane! Things do go wrong and are not always to plan. Being able to laugh about it with your better half will keep your experience enjoyable and memorable. Overall, keeping a positive mindset is going to change the whole outcome of your trip and time on the road, making it the experience of a lifetime!
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