Welcome to van life. ‘What’s that?’ we hear you ask. Well, to start with, it’s much more than a hashtag.
The movement is sweeping the globe with young people, many of whom have either been priced out of the housing market or who are not working your typical 9-5 jobs are choosing to take their lives on the road living and travelling in caravans or converted vehicles.
While some people choose to buy or rent a traditional caravan, others decide to do a major DIY project converting old school busses, vans, trailers or old school caravans. With beds, sitting areas and working kitchens, these are incredibly liveable vehicles and with a veritable constellation of fairy lights, they can be gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing in all the best ways.
To learn more about van life, check out the Vanlife website to read first hand accounts, pick up on great travel destination ideas and learn more about renovating or converting vans or caravans.
Why Are So Many People Getting Involved in Van Life?
Beyond the Instagrammable aesthetic appeal, people flock to caravanning and van life as a way to embrace freedom and wanderlust and reject roots and mundane, monotonous stability. You don’t need me to tell you that there’s something romantic about the open road and endless possibilities, Jack Keroac has already done that far more eloquently than I ever could: “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” The vagabond, beatnik generation was enchanted by the open-endedness of the road and the idea of being pulled through life, taken by the tide, following the ebbs and flows of life.
Our current generation spend weeks and months on the road backpacking and travelling and van life is the natural extension of that long held romantic need to roam. Beyond that, 2020 taught us that life is inevitably uncertain and unpredictable and so, rather than sign year long leases and pay the extortionately high weekly rents that we’ve come to expect in most Australian cities, they live their lives on the road.
Van life, it’s romantic, it’s Keroac, it’s the best way to travel in 2021 and it’s very much here to stay. So, to keep paraphrasing Kerouac, with a wheel in your hands and four on the road, there’s no end to where you could go...
What Do You Need To Know Before You Set Off?
Like any adventure, setting out on a major carvaning adventure or van life road trip requires planning and forethought. Here are some of the things you have to prepare before you set off on your journey.
First things first, rent before you buy! We cannot stress this enough. So many times we’ve seen people fall in love with the highly stylized images of van life that they’ve seen on the Internet and then when they actually have to face the idea of no hot showers, rising at dawn and sleeping in a relatively confined space - they hate it. Renting will also help to give you an idea of what sort of van will suit your needs and your journey.
Safety and Insurance
Safety first, everyone! Like with anything worth protecting in your life, if your caravan is important to you, you’ll want to make sure it's insured. Whether you’ve got a towing caravan, a trailer, a campervan or an onsite caravan, you should make sure that you’re covered in the event of an emergency, damage or theft.
Life On The Road
Life on the road is something else, it’s quite foreign to backpacking or other holidays. First time caravan trippers should draw on the amazing resource that other drivers represent, connecting with them and learning about all the tips and tricks that make van life manageable for them. Websites and social tags on Instagram are a great way for drivers to get in touch with one another.
Another tip is that we always say, for trips longer than a week you should make sure that you’ve booked at least one night at a hotel or serviced apartment for a little taste of luxury. After a period of time on the road, clean clothes, a big bed, a hot shower or even - the ultimate luxury - a bath and some room service is honestly the closest thing we’ve experienced to heaven.
The Best Luxury Caravan Spots In Australia
Australia is a truly beautiful country and there are no end to gorgeous spots to spend the night in your camper or caravan. Some spots are no brainers, Pittwater, Byron Bay, the Daintree Rainforest or Tasmania but the following three spots are some of the best under the radar caravan and campervan destinations in Australia.
Atherton Tablelands, Queensland
TLC told us not to go chasing waterfalls but, if you ask us, for Atherton, they would have made an exception. Walk through rainforests before you emerge at a heavenly waterfall circuit. Three stunning waterfalls - Millaa Millaa, Zillie and Elijaa - can be found along this paved 17km loop. They each loop like they’ve been ripped from the front of the prettiest postcard you’ve ever seen. It’s driveable and unmissable - check it out.
Victor Harbour, South Australia
Beaches, islands, whale watching and charming rockpools ripe for exploration, this South Australian town is perfect for travellers looking to get back in touch with nature. Feed kangaroos, emus and take in gorgeous ocean vistas and azure oceans. In winter you’ll see migrating whales swimming past. If you head over to Granite Island you can check out the famous Little Penguins. It’s also a great surf spot so bring your board.
Esperance, Western Australia
The majestic, tropical white sandy beaches and bright blue waters of Esperance, Western Australia are truly breathtaking. Some of the purest white sand in the world, check out the 40kms length of scenic coastal roads and park somewhere spectacular and stay the night so you can swim at sunrise as soon as day breaks. If you can, make sure you get down here early to nab one of the stunning national park overnight parking spots. Well worth it!