Living on the Road
Travelling in a camper van gave a great insight into different ways of living…. it brought into question, all the things we take for granted, ideas on what we need, how best to utilise small spaces, dual purposes, what is a home, do we need to own everything ourselves….
This question definitely varies depending on where in the world you are… when in cities it’s certainly harder to roam free, and it’s different in different countries.
Certainly in Australia there is a great network of free camping and public toilets, and it is a safe place, which makes living on the road an easier option … and lots of people are doing just that.
Plan your Space
Living in a small space becomes about the initial planning, having everything set up, in its place, with no space wasted, and as far as possible all items serving multi functional uses.
For ourselves, we chose a high top van with a long wheel base, it allows one to stand up inside, get the extra space, but you can still fit in regular parking spots, it had a relatively small size engine, so is more sustainable in terms of fuel, and who’s in rush when you’re living on the road enjoying the scenery.
For this we worked out exactly what it was that we regularly used, purchased airtight containers for all the items, and created shelves to size that fitted the containers, cutlery box, plates, stand up bottles, gas bottle, etc. a fold out table was then hinged onto the front of the shelves, this served to protect the food from light and heat when closed, as well as holding everything in place, and hinged out into a table when needed, with the use of adjustable tent poles.
Pots and cleaning bucket where strapped up to the sides and ceiling.
As we did a lot of sprouting and making of fermented drinks such as kefir and ginger beer, for this we created a long narrow shelf on the inside of the van that fitted the jars, using a sufficiently tall lip, and strap to hold everything in place.
I strongly recommend sprouting, it works great in a van and helps with a constant supply of fresh food.
Designing the Kitchen
Generally we put a bit of extra work into the van before getting going, to make it feel like a home, we pulled up the laminate flooring and found some beautiful wooden boards which we sanded and varnished, removed the wallpaper off the wooden ceiling, painted the interior, fixed all the holes and old wiring created and left by previous owners. It made such a difference to the living space.
Where water is scarce in some parts of Australia, and avoiding all tap water due to all the fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals, water became a big part of the journey. Finding water in springs, clean rivers or collecting rain water, and then storing sufficient amounts. A stainless steel water tank beneath the van was very useful. It wasn’t big enough though, so we purchased 2 x 25l extra tanks for this, unfortunately we did use plastic (BPA free), as funds and options were limited.
Other useful tips (specific to Australia)
Wikicamps app on your smart phone is an awesome user generated data base of free camping available.
Free stuff to do
Get the Australia Free book. We bought it for $50 from someone we met at a campsite, it was totally worth it! It means we don’t have to constantly research about what we want to do next, it’s full of amazing things to do and see for free in Australia.
Happy home making
Check out my other blog where I share my experience on setting up the electrical system in a camper van.