‘Let’s cut the crap and put some pants on..’

Recently I’ve noticed my Instagram news feed to be full of girls lying in the back of their vans whilst their unbelievably tanned, toned ass’s hang out of their bathers, overlooking incredible backgrounds. And whilst I guess if I had an ass like theirs, I would too, (but who has a body like that and lives out of a car!) but I’m certain that people look at these pictures and believe van life to be something it’s not; glamorous.
So let’s put some bloody pants on and be real about living life on the road;

Whilst majority of our nights are spent sleeping by the beach, there are the odd nights where we sleep on the side of the freeway, at the showgrounds with other carnies, behind service stations and even Bunnings car parks! Sometimes you just need to swap the sound of the waves for the smell of sausages.

bunnigns.jpg

The reality is that I haven’t looked at myself in a full length mirror in months. My mirror is the size of an A4 piece of paper and what a blessing it’s turned into. It’s amazing how good it feels to not worry about how your hair and makeup constantly looks (sorry James!). Now don’t get wrong, I was born a tomboy and certainly have never aspired to look like a Barbie, but as a women it’s only natural you give somewhat of a shit how you look. It’s also amazing how easily you get used to using your car side mirrors to look at yourself and pop your pimples and it’s even more amazing how quickly you learn to ignore people’s reactions to you doing it whilst you’re parked out the front of their house. I think there’s no better feeling then having sandy beach hair for weeks on end and a fresh face every morning.

IMG_1112

I’m 99% sure I could be the mascot for dry shampoo by the end of this trip. I must use a can every 3 days. I would like to use the excuse of “I have no shower”, but that would be a lie. We have a shower in the van and always have access to free showers along the East Coast, but when your living at the beach, out of a space that’s only a few metres by a few metres, watching sunsets, exploring waterfalls and adventuring new parts of Australia daily; who wants to waste time washing their hair (and not to mention, shaving their legs) and making themselves look the best they can look? I know I sure don’t!

shower.jpg

It’s no secret that van life can be cramped at times. James and I are constantly at war over who can get to the car before the other after showers, and who can get ready in the morning before the other one wakes, but I truly believe the biggest test at times is to remain calm whilst the other one won’t move the fuck out of the way! And you know by telling them to hurry up with only make the air as thick as honey for the rest of the day. Within the first few weeks of living out of the van, I didn’t even notice the small space. Fast forward a few months and the inevitable happened; we got on each other’s nerves. I think it’s critical for one another to have their alone time, regardless of how big your living space is. For James, his alone time consists of running at god awful times in the mornings. For me, my time is when James falls asleep within the first 2 minutes of getting into bed at night time. There is definitely some days, that regardless of how much alone time we have, we will still get on each other’s nerves and it happened when we lived in a 4 bedroom house, so it’s bound to happen living in a van. But please don’t get wrong, living in such a small space does come with its positives; James has little way to escape my morning hugs, we’ve proven time and time again that not only can we live together in a house, we can live together in a space that’s 1.7m wide x 3m long, and you quickly learn how many material items you can live without.

IMG_4149.JPG

All things said aside, I’m honestly so glad that van life isn’t glamorous, well my van life certainly isn’t. Now it’s time to sound like a real clique traveller, but I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this content in a long time. Can you imagine living a life that you can do what you want, when you want, and you have absolutely no cares in the world of what anyone thinks, and all whilst having your best friend by your side? That’s the exact mind set that James and I live in our life.

love.jpg
I love having dirty beach hair, wearing the same clothes for days on end, wearing no make up for weeks in a row, living off hundreds of cans of tuna (not even kidding, we have eaten at least 300 cans since living on the road), showering under the stars and I still would much rather get bitten by 100 mozzie’s in the outback living in my van, then getting bitten by 1 mozzie at home whilst doing my usual daily routine. I’m sure that there are people reading this and thinking, ‘Why would you choose to live like that?’, and I thought the same before I began this journey, but now I almost feel guilty that I am so settled with the idea of living out of a van for the rest of my life and so unsettled when I think of returning to my day job and routine of my normal life back in Hurstbridge.

driving.jpg

How we gypsies survive living this life…

Majority of our close family and friends already know how we gypsies survive on the road. For the first four months we purely survived off our own savings; I think it’s a great thing to save as much as you can before you travel, but I also think it feels a lot like having a ticking time bomb in your back pocket. It limits you on what you can do and it also limits how much time you can continue to travel, so it was time that we got a job.
A little over 2 months ago now, James and I joined the carnival.

shot4.jpg

When we told our family and friends what our new job would be, the advice that was given to us, was that we should knock some of our teeth out to fit in. We always looked at it as an incredible experience and a good way to travel and earn some money. If we’re being honest here, we had no idea what we were walking into. We both thought that we would be working on a small ride that goes to school fetes and small town shows. When we arrived at our first show, I remember driving in and saying to James, ‘Yep, we’re carnies!’. It was the full blown carnival, we’re talking our ride alone, is bigger than my house at home and the whole carnival itself would be the size of the MCG.

IMG_5237

Our actual job is to dress up in The Reaper costume and signal to small children that we will kill them, hide inside the pitch black and shove zombie heads in front of people coming down the ramps and make people cry or shit their pants (literally) as much as we can! It’s easily the most unique and hilarious job we have ever had.

phototot.jpg phtohtot

Working on the carnival gives us the opportunity to work 1-2 weeks on and then travel and have 2 weeks off. What better job can you have? Before James and I began travelling, it would be a lie to say we both knew each other 100%. But let me tell you, when you work 15 hour days for 5 days in a row with your boyfriend, you slowly learn if you want to murder him in the pitch black and call it an accident, or if you think it’ll actually work between you two; James is yet to be murdered so that must be saying something!
shot22

There are so many ways to make money whilst living on the road, but I’m certain that James and I got lucky earning money the way we do. We’ve made great friends, made hundreds of kids cry (and I’m certain one of them wet his pants!) learnt the good and bad things about each other (funny how you learn the bad things quicker than the good…) and I’m glad to say how wrong people are with their views/stereotypes of ‘carnies’ and that all of the carnies we have met are great people; and majority have their teeth too!

And be sure to keep your eyes out for us on the ghost train when the show rolls into town…

spook.jpg

‘From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows..’

Three days ago we stood at the highest waterfall in Australia admiring how far we have travelled over the past 5 months, how incredible the views have been and how lucky we are to see these incredible things that people go through life never getting the opportunity to do. Fast forward three days and we are sitting on the side of the road in Innisfail (all respect intended when I say this; if you are looking for somewhere in Australia where there is absolutely nothing to do or so, come to Innisfail) with our clothes packed into backpacks and our food packed into a plastic bucket we use for our sandy wet suits. The reason behind this was bound to happen sooner or later; our beautiful baby Maxy was fed up with driving 250 kms a day in 30 degree heat and decided to break down on us. At least he had the decency to break down in a town and not on the Bruce Highway we had previously spent 2 hours driving on, not to mention the crocodile warnings signs that run along the sides of the freeway (there must be a god after all that made us not breakdown there!)

IMG_5527

Why is it that when your car breaks down, anger, frustration and the tone of your voice suddenly escalates before your very own eyes without you having the ability to control yourself? Thankfully James was driving when the van decided to die on us, because if I was driving, the ultimate breakdown would have occurred and James would have witnessed a new Eden he hadn’t met yet.
To my surprise I was relatively calm, even if that meant I may have screamed: “It’s the fucking oil clearly!”, “I fucking told you we shouldn’t have had the aircon on all day!”, “It’s a fucking 20 year old car, it can’t do what a 3 year old car can do!”, “For fucks sake!”, Oh don’t you worry, I’ll call AAMI and work it out, leave it to me”, and a lot more that I may, or may not have, chosen to block out of my mind.
And why is it also, that no matter how nice the people are when you ring your insurance/road side assist, you always think their being a naive ass to you? I got off the phone to the AAMI worker and said to James, ‘That women asked me the stupidest questions, treated me like i was an idiot!’. In hindsight, i’m sure the lady I spoke to was lovely and asked me only what was required, yet I’m sure I was an absolute bitch to her.

After AAMI arranged for road side assist to come out to us, which felt like 4 hours later, the definition of a human choad arrived. He was quite literally as wide as he was tall, and not talking fat, he was all muscle. James and I couldn’t even speak the words of what was wrong with the car, we both just stood there like a pair of stunned mullets trying to comprehend how this man was so enormous. Putting that aside, he was no help at all other than telling me to call a tow truck to take it to the mechanics to be fixed on Monday (of course we broke down on a Saturday afternoon in bum fuck nowhere!)
So another 2 hours later, the tow truck man arrives and loads our baby on the back and takes us and the van to a caravan park.

IMG_5519.JPG

Thankfully the tow truck man had more brains then the naive asses at AAMI, suggesting we sleep in the car at the caravan park until Monday when he can tow it back to the local mechanic. So at 10PM, we roll up at the caravan park in the front seats of the tow truck with the flashing lights and get the car dropped off. Of course, the 1.5tonne van got dropped as far away as possible from the power plugs, which meant James and I had to try and push the van in our thongs on the slippery grass at 10:30PM. I’m 99% sure we both popped blood vessels in places where there not meant to be popped.
It wasn’t until this morning that we were able to see our view, much to our surprise; it’s a fair old view! Luckily too, because we aren’t going anywhere for the next 48 hours.

IMG_5526.JPG

IMG_5522.JPG

So, tomorrow is the day that we find out what’s actually wrong with our beautiful baby Maxy and whether or not James can continue to take naked photos next to the van over incredible views, aka, continue to travel Australia in the van.
To say that were praying for something cheap to have gone wrong, would be an understatement. If you’ve taken the time to read this blog entry, please take 5 more seconds to pray for us for a cheap trip to the mechanics too. And if you’re also feeling really generous you can donate to the helpmaxgetbackontheroadfund.com! Jokes! But seriously…. 😉

IMG_5476.JPG

‘The elephant in the room..’

It’s no secret that travelling in general is expensive, but no one ever tells you how expensive travelling Australia is. It’s also no secret that we were both tight asses before we left to travel, so you can only imagine how tight our asses are these days.
Within our first month of travelling Australia, we ate like Prince Charles and Camilla; eating salmon, steak, oysters and avocados (and we all know how expensive they are!), yet we couldn’t understand why we were chewing through money, quite literally thinking we were dropping money from our wallets. It wasn’t until people began to ask us how much money we had spent, that we realised we were spending A LOT of money in a short amount of time!

steak
It’s funny because people always ask questions like, ‘So, have you guys spent a lot? Not that you need to tell me how much you’ve actually spent’, or the best of them all; ‘If I was to travel like how you guys have, how much money would I expect to have spent by this point?’, hence why we began to laugh and refer to these as the elephant in the room!
We both agree that there are so many ways to save money when travelling Australia and travelling in general; first being the obvious, don’t be an idiot and eat salmon and steak on a weekly basis! But in all seriousness, your money will vanish in a puff of smoke if you expect to eat comfort food on a tight budget.
But rest assure, our good old friends at Woolworths offer free fruit for kids, and although to look at we may not pass as children, but our hungry stomachs think otherwise.
Another smart, yet embarrassing at times, way to save money is to take advantage of public drinking fountains at playgrounds. We tend to wait out until its dark and then stand in the playgrounds and fill up our big 10L water jugs; we’re yet to have the police called on us on the grounds of suspected paedophilia or suspicious behaviour; we’re waiting for it though.

IMG_4372

Another major way to save money is to avoid caravan parks like the plague!!!!! Yes, they are great for major tourist towns like Byron Bay or Airlie Beach because the Ranger’s get off on giving people $1000 fines for sleeping in their cars, but other than that, they’re extremely expensive, especially if you stay there every night over 6 months. Most caravan parks charge $25-30 a night for an unpowered site, equalling to roughly $4,800 over 6 months. We’ve recently just spent a week sailing the Whitsunday Islands, costing us $600 each, thanks to free camping we were able to afford to live like the Kardashians for a week.

IMG_7223.jpg

Our absolute saviour has been Wikicamps, which shows you where free camps are all across Australia. We’re yet to be kidnapped at any of them so we can’t recommend it highly enough.
I bet if we said to you that you need to share a meal between two people, you would laugh, right? We did too when we first tried it, except you learn pretty quickly that most pubs or restaurants serve huge portions, we save so much money by doing this and if we find that if we’re still hungry at the end, we just buy another meal, or fill up on free dinner rolls; they recommend one roll per person, but whoever sticks to that anyway?

There’s always going to be times where you need to lash out and buy that steak or salmon, or even when you need just one night out of the van and that might mean you stay in an apartment or air BNB, but it’s so worth being a tight ass on things that you can live without (even though you will think you can’t) because for every dollar you save, you can spend on seeing more of beautiful Australia!

DJI_0281.jpg

 

“You’re so lucky…”

After having travelled 25 countries in my 25 years of existence, I always hear my friends say to me “you’re so lucky you get to travel”; Hell no! It’s not luck! It’s hard work; saving like a 16 year old trying to buy a goon sack for the weekend, being a ‘do-er’ instead of a ‘gunna’ and not having financial commitments up to my eyeballs in my early 20’s. Why is it that people apply such pressure these days to younger generations like ours, to ‘settle down, buy a house and have children?’ Why is there such a hurry when I have the next 50 years to drown in debt, change my future children’s shitty nappies and become infertile?

Once having decided to travel Australia, I moved back home to my parents (after having lived with my sister for a year and a half on our own this wasn’t an easy adjustment!) I got my 3rd job which involved interviewing people in playgrounds about the length of the grass and softness of the tanbark (need I say more how painful this was?) I did this job alongside my other 2 jobs and studying full time at University. So, when I say I worked hard, I genuinely mean I was working 6 hours in the morning at job #1, driving to job #2 for the afternoon, then surveying in playgrounds until 9pm at job #3 and then going home and painfully writing assignments until the early hours of the morning. I did this 6 days a week for a year. So you can understand my need to slap people when they make the comment of ‘you’re so lucky to travel’.

I guess my point is, that it’s not a matter of luck in order to travel and see the world, it comes down to you wanting to do something badly enough and actually physically putting the wheels in motion and doing it. I would work shovelling cow shit for $15 an hour all day every day, if it meant I could afford to go and see another part of this amazing thing we call the ‘world’.

Eden

IMG_3482.JPG

‘Longing for…’

It’s funny, when we  left Melbourne to do this road trip around Australia, it wasn’t so much ourselves thinking of what we would miss, it was more those around us that convinced us we would suffer miserably without our daily luxuries. For the first month and a half, we both lived comfortably not particularly noticing anything major that we missed from back home. It wasn’t until we arrived in Sydney and had a few days in a hotel (shout out to James’s parents for letting us gatecrash their romantic getaway in a 5 star hotel), that James noticed his growing frustration for the need to shower in thongs. The main reason we shower in thongs is obvious isn’t it?; to avoid amputation of our feet due to contracting gangrene and tinea. It wasn’t so much physically wearing them on his feet, it’s the fact that once you’re standing in the shower and you move your feet to reach the soap, thongs have this annoying habit of suctioning to the floor, resulting in your foot slipping out of the thong and touching the dreaded tinea infested tiles of a public shower. It’s now been almost 3 months since showing bare feet, and James’s frustration is yet to subside.

Although I realise a 10 pack of 1ply toilet paper may be cheaper than a 30 cent cone, it does resemble the same feeling as wiping your ass with a piece of sandpaper. I have never once back home thought ‘Oh my, this 3ply toilet paper is so soft’ but yet now I have a new appreciation for 3ply. Whilst on the topic of toilet time, don’t even attempt to get me near a drop toilet; I’ve never had any reservations about drop toilets, until we were in the forest in Golden Beach, Victoria, (alone may I mention!) and I wondered over to the drop toilet late at night, shone a torch down the drop toilet hole and my Jesus, never again will I sit my heinie on one. When it comes to James, he couldn’t care less if the drop toilet had never been cleaned and other peoples shit was to about to touch his bum cheeks, yet if a toilet is missing its seat, leaving just the dreaded shiny metal rim; its game over for him; ‘Dahl pack the car up, we’re moving to the next town’.

I travelled throughout the UK and Europe for four months when I was 22 and I found that I missed my family a lot but I missed my friends more. I suffered from the very painful disorder of FOMO; Fear of missing out. I was constantly thinking about what my friends where doing and what moments I was missing out on, yet little did I realise, I was making the best moments of my life. Although I missed my family a lot, to be honest I thought I would have missed them more. I missed the small things like my mums soup we have on Sunday nights when I contemplate death from a hangover, towels that don’t smell like wet dog or as unhygienic and feral as it sounds; bed sheets that are worn in and don’t stink of bleach used by the hostel staff to kill the bed bugs and the semen from the persons one night stand before you.

This time around on my Australian trip, I have to be honest and say I miss my family a lot more. I guess as you grow up, your friend’s priorities and your own priorities change from when we were all 21. That isn’t to say that I have been cured fully from my FOMO disorder, I just now realise that I am living a dream holiday that people would kill for, and when I return home things will be the same as they were before I left. And hey, what’s to miss whilst being on an endless holiday that involves waking up at the beach every morning?