Travelling Local & Solo: Why The Van Life Is The Best Life

Why The Van Life Is The Good Life

I was 12 when I was introduced to the van life. My Mum's friend, Bell, had been around Australia in an old red Toyota light ace called Rhonda and wanted us to join her on the final leg of the trip. Without hesitation, mum whipped me out of school and we flew to Broome in Australia's hot dry northwest to help Bell bring Rhonda back to Darwin.

Our three weeks on the road were filled with crystal clear waterfalls, magnificent gorges, ancient Aboriginal art, long stretches of bumpy road, campfire cooking, new friends and lots and lots of red dust. I loved every minute of the trip. From the bucket showers to the morning cups of tea in the van to the secret pools and waterfalls we explored. I was in heaven. So it won't come as a surprise that I spent the next six years dreaming of my own van and trip around Australia. I researched kombi's, read adventure books about girls travelling in vans and finally bought my own when I turned 18.

Five years and many weekends away later, Nessie the green VW is still going strong (albeit a bit leaky in the rain) and we have just returned from our first solo adventure together. My post University feet were itching badly and I wanted to escape but couldn't afford to gallivant across Europe like some of my friends. And honestly, it didn't appeal to me either. Being the young environmentalist I am, the thought of zooming around the earth in jet planes didn't quite sit right. Not only is flying heavy on CO2 emissions it also contributes to warming in the short term because of the chemicals emitted in the fuel combustion process. Besides if I travelled overseas I'd likely use lots of electricity in fancy hotels and have to hire a car anyway. A van trip was a far more tempting option.

Why It's Important To Travel Local (And Solo If You're Up For It!)

Women are constantly told we can't do life by ourselves and that we should always refer to others to help us make decisions. My trip taught me that this isn't the case.

November saw me pack up my van and make my way South to Victoria and Tasmania to disappear into the nature of Australia's Southern coasts. I'd intended it to be a surf trip but it ended up being so much more than that. Spending three weeks alone helped me realise my own competence. I answered to no one, slept and woke up when I wanted, cooked my own meals, stayed at campsites as long or as little as I liked. It felt strange at first being on holidays and not having to keep to schedules or make sure my travel companions were also enjoying themselves. But after a week it became completely comfortable to be on my own, with just my van for company.

Seeing nature at its finest helped me remember the beauty of my backyard and the importance of protecting it. While most holidays focus on indulgence, mine was minimalistic. I produced as little waste as I could and focused on the activities that didn't cost the earth like reading, beach walks and swims. It's easy to relax when you don't have an itinerary or a plan. You do less but somehow see more. Kind strangers, cute coffee shops, empty beaches, secret bush walks and hidden overnight camp spots were just some of the things I would have missed had I taken a more glamorous holiday.

Travel doesn't have to be extravagant, in fact I find its more rewarding if its not.

My childhood holidays were always centred around camping. Every school holiday was spent travelling up and down the East coast in search of good waves and quiet escapes. Whether we took two weeks to surf ourselves silly at Crescent Head or opted for tents over cabins when we spent weekends at surf club carnivals, Mum and I took every opportunity we could to set up camp and relax by a fire. I think that stayed with me because nothing has changed.

So whether you can afford to get a van, build a bed in the back and adventure around your country or just borrow a tent and spend a weekend at the closest National Park, make your next holiday a camping one. Trust me, you wont regret it.

Eva Davis-Boermans is a van enthusiast and waste free guru. She can often be found trawling the beach for rubbish, hunting in op shops or surfing. Eva has written for Global Hobo and you can read more of her work here, and watch a film she made about women who surf here.

[Images: Supplied by Eva Davis-Boermans]

Read this next: How To Plan A Waste Free Road Trip

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