13 lessons learned travelling full-time in a Caravan
Updated: Oct 7
Travelling in a caravan on holidays and travelling in a caravan full time are two completely different experiences. In our opinion, both are sensational! You have the luxury of going wherever you please, to explore whatever you want! However, living and travelling in your van full time, is very different. After travelling for many months in our Essential Caravan, we have some valuable information to pass on to help any prospective travellers.
So what have we learned from travelling full time?
1. This is life:
Once you shift your thinking and realise you are not on a holiday, your travels become so much more fulfilling! It takes a while, so be patient. We don’t have BBQ’s every night or cooked breakfasts every day (you can - but we don’t). Sometimes we socialise with other travellers, let’s face it, one of the joys of travelling is meeting new people to hear their stories. But sometimes we just keep to ourselves, just like you do when you live in a house.
Treat your travels as ‘a life on the road with your house’.
2. Take your time:
There is no rush to get anywhere so drive to the conditions, enjoy the journey and stop whenever you see something interesting. Be flexible to change plans. On holidays you are always trying to get the most from the short time you have with an end date in sight. Travelling full time takes away this pressure, so enjoy every moment.
3. Alone time:
Living in a small space can get overwhelming at times. In Australia, you can be in the car for hours as you travel to your next destination. Once you are set up, sometimes you only have each other for company. Therefore, you must find time for yourself! It’s not selfish or indulgent, it is just what we need to do to restore our energy. It could be as simple as taking a walk or some other activity that allows you time away from each other.
4. You can’t do everything:
It is just impossible to visit every place. Make a plan to see and explore what you can without backtracking or driving in circles. There will always be next time or you may have to forgo some experiences. Get together your ‘must do’ list and map out what’s achievable.
5. Fuel is precious:
It will be your greatest expense. With the long distances travelled and pulling a caravan, you will use a lot of fuel. Keep in mind, the faster you travel the quicker you will need to refuel. Fuel prices vary enormously around the country and in the outback, there are limited options. So factor this into your budget and easy on the pedal.
6. Water is precious:
It will always be on your mind. How much is in the tank, is it bore water, desalinated water, town water? Do we need to stock up? Is there any cold water to drink or hot water to shower? Do we need to pay for showers, do we have any coins. It seems we ask these questions every day and some more than others. Someone needs to be the ‘waterboy’.
7. Caravan Park or free camp:
It will be another frequent question and will factor into the budget discussions. There are Caravan Parks and Campsites everywhere (just look at WikiCamps!) with the costs varying enormously. When you are staying at places for a week, this adds up. However, consider your set-up when deciding if you want to ‘free camp’. Without the appropriate equipment, your experience may be less than comfortable.
Sometimes you will miss family, friends and familiarity. This is part of travelling and when you are across the other side of Australia, you can’t just pop home. Technology is the best cure for catching up with family and friends. Call, facetime, zoom or whatever program you use to chat with them. You will feel so much better once you have chatted and shared stories. It’s the next best thing when you can’t be there.
It will keep you sane! When you live in a small space, everything must have a place and be returned to that place each time. Otherwise, life will get stressful. Sure, we have days where things get untidy, but not for long. There is no dumping of clothes, shoes, hats etc. Find a way to store things so life can flow in your small place.
10. Phone coverage and Wi-Fi are fickle:
One minute you will have full reception and the next nothing. Don’t rely on free Wi-Fi, it will send you crazy! Telstra has been the best provider and we are always hot-spotting to our laptops. When you find 4G you will be so excited! Sounds funny but it’s the thing that we marvel at along the way. Once again WikiCamps has helped identify coverage in some very remote locations.
11. Keeping Busy:
There are days where you will have planned activities away from the van as you explore this great land. Hiking, swimming, cycling, museums, landmarks, markets … the list goes on. But this is not every day! Sometimes we park up at a location just to be there and to enjoy the serenity, without having to do anything. We always find something to keep our minds and bodies active, otherwise, you will find yourself snacking, watching TV and just getting bored.
12. Cold Crisp Folding Gear (CASH):
Remember when you travel in a modern world that the modern currency is credit cards! However, there are areas throughout Australia that simply don’t have reliable Wi-Fi. Make sure you carry enough cash to fuel up or buy groceries etc if cards are not available. Ensure also that you carry a few $1/$2 coins. Most park washing machines and dryers only use coins and plenty of them!! Some car washes and some water dispenser’s also need coins. So keep a stash somewhere.
13. First World Problems:
These are the little things that can get in the way of a peaceful life. Things like – preparing dinner, washing, emptying the toilet, no Wi-Fi, it’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s raining etc. There are no quick fixes or advice for these issues. This is life! Practice gratitude for the life you have chosen knowing that there are many people who would love to be in your position.
So there you have it, just thirteen lessons! We could add many many more but that will be for another time. What have you learned from travelling full time? Drop a comment below.