Some people are born restless. Putting down roots becomes boring rather quickly. I knew quite early I was a restless person, as I’ve always enjoyed a change of scenery, and have found it an incredible catalyst of better times. This pattern is what eventually brought me to my first van life experience.
A series of events, however fortunate lead me to one of my first great out-of-country experiences. I had a friend heading to Australia for an unknown length of time to travel in a van with another friend who I didn’t know, whom my friend had met somewhere in South America. They didn’t have much of a plan, but a van and a job when they arrived.
Being bored, and confused as to what my future held, I half-jokingly asked my friend if I could come along for the adventure. He replied with an enthusiastic yes.
That summer, I got two jobs and worked my ass off to pay for that ticket, knowing that when I arrived, there was a van and a job waiting. It’s amazing how much money one can accomplish under the weight of massive motivation.
That fall, I packed my bags and got on a flight to Perth Australia. Travelling a little further after I arrived, I met up with my friends, and a van named Chica.
You’ll never have the money, but so what? Life doesn’t wait for you to save up.
The nine months that followed were some of the best in my life. Along with the fun and experience, I was able to hone some sharp travelling skills and qualities.
Living in such cramped conditions, you learn to pack light, stay organized, and that you really don’t need half the things you think you do. After the first two months, I had rid myself of at least half the things I had brought with me. I had optimized my luggage down to just the following items:
- four tee-shirts
- two pairs of shorts
- a pair of jeans
- one hoodie
- one button-up shirt
- a gore-tex rain jacket
- a light, wide towel
- my wallet / passport
- a good backpack
- two compression bags (for compacting unused clothes)
- a sleeping bag
- a light sleeping pad
- a multitool
- a water bottle
- a pair of sneakers
- a pair of sandals
- my essential bathroom kit
This kit did not include the cooking kit in our van, but at any time, I was able to zip my bag and leave the van for days, without missing anything.Packing this light is definitely not a possibility everywhere, but where the weather is nice, you can really slim down. I believe this is what makes Australia an ideal backpacking destination.
Upon returning from my first big adventure, I had many people confront me and say things like “Man, I wish I could travel,” or “How can you afford it?”. My answer was always simple: “Why can’t you? Just go. You’ll never have the money, but so what? Life doesn’t wait for you to save up.”
Sure it’s hard. It can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but in the end, do it for yourself, your family, and the world around you. Life doesn’t wait, and neither should you.
We live in an incredible time for travel. With world networking being at the level it is, we’re able to connect with people everywhere and anywhere, at any time. No money for a plane ticket? Share a ride. Can’t afford a hotel? Camp in my yard. Don’t have the money to travel? Work for your food and board. Better yet, get paid to relocate a car across the country and house-sit for two months while you plan your next adventure. Everything you need is right in front of you.