Hello you lovely lot!
Hope you’re all well and having a lovely July so far. I feel like I need to apologise for the late upload of this post, I just was soaking in Bali life after Australia and needed to make sure I included absolutely everything you need to know about van life and travelling beautiful Australia in a van!
During mine and Kirstys trip we spent majority of our time in three different styles of vans, living our best van life. It’s was quite a daunting thing travelling to the other side of the world , especially with the thought of living the whole 7 weeks in a van! But I can confirm it was the best 7 weeks of my life, and there’s no other way I would have spent it. Having a home on wheels was the best decision we made. Each van we had on our adventures we instantly became attached too and we miss it already. Im going to include everything from where to start, costs, what’s it like and tips and tricks below to living van life and experiencing it all in amazing Australia. Of course this is my experience, but hopefully it gives an insight into van life and whether it might be for you…
How to get started- Where to Hire and what to prepare for:
Where to begin!! Myself and Kirsty lived in three different styled vans throughout the 6 weeks of our adventures and had the amazing help of Ratpack Travel and their incredible services. If you want a hassle free start to planning your van life adventures then they are your go to!! They are owned and operated by Sammy who is also a backpacker, the RatPack team can help you book tours, experiences and transport and offer so much advice when it comes to seeing Australia and New Zealand. Once they find the most affordable and best rated option they then apply a discount making it at least 10% cheaper than actually booking direct! I honestly couldn’t recommend them enough!
Ratpack helped us organise all our vans in all our different locations, and as they have a good relationship with all the camper van and car rental companies, a 10% discount off the price is always guaranteed when booking with them; which is ideal when it comes to saving too as Australia can be pricey! They compare all the different vans available and their prices for you and let you know the best options, it basically makes booking a van super easy, cheap and stress free!!! If you’ve already booked your flights to Oz / NZ and have dates hit up the link below and they can make a price comparison for you:
Not only that but they offered us so much advice when it came to exploring Australia and booking our experiences, such as The Whitsundays tour, Fraser Island and our Sky diving Experience in Airlie Beach. Sammy from RatPack was the biggest help and has experience so much of Australia so hearing all his tips and tricks was so ideal. They also have a WhatsApp Support chat, which is so handy when your on the road and in need of any advice. There page also offers so much inspiration for planning and general advice, so if you do fancy checking them out: CLICK HERE!. If you have any further questions about Ratpack Travel then please feel free to comment or send me a message over on instagram or message them on WhatsApp +61450381801 to get your planning started!! (CLICK HERE TO WHATSAPP THEM)
Van life costs…so this does depend on what style of Van you go for, where you drop off the van and lots of different factors which you can tailor when you plan with RatPack Travel! However, I will leave all our costs below so you can get an idea of what we had and experience.
There are a few things that will impact the cost of your van, such as pick up and drop off points– if you drop off your van somewhere else this is an extra cost. How many of you there are/how many beds you have or whether you have a hi-top van or two seater. Milage- dependant on your trip plan, of course the cost of petrol will be more.
1st van Hire: We picked up our first van, a Camperman Van hi-top 4 bed van, in the Gold Coast for 18 days and drop her off in Airlie Beach ($250 more for dropping off in another location). For Insurance we had everything covered expect roof, windscreen or tyre this was $400.00 in total. Then the total cost of van one came to $1296, plus $500 refundable deposit. (To be noted: This was through Ratpack travel and was a Camperman Van.)
2nd Van Hire: Our second van, a Apollo Hippie Drifter (small two seater) we had for 9 days and picked up and dropped off in Melbourne. For Insurance we had full cover including windscreen and tyres, and a total of $330. Then the total cost van to $535.18, plus $100 refundable deposit. (To be noted: This was through Ratpack travel and was a Apollo Hippie Drifted Van.)
3rd Van Hire: Our last, and most boujii van of them all was for 11 days, in a hi-top four bed with Autobarn Van Company. We picked her up and dropped her off in Perth. For insurance we got full cover for $360, and this was a total cost of $900. (To be noted: This was through Ratpack travel and was a Autobarn Van)
Fuel Prices: On average around $70 dollars lasted us around a four hour drive.
Camping Prices: There are different options for camping, and there is always the option to free camp. however, every few days the van does need to be plugged into electricity but using the WikiCamps app, camping sites are super easy to find! Myself and Kirsty only did powered campsites, as we needed power to charge most evenings for work. For campsites for two people on a powered site we paid between $33-$45 a night. This includes your power, water, shower and toilets and a camp kitchen. We opted to using the camp kitchen due to limited space in the Van.
Things you need to know: Tips and Tricks
- Choos the style of your van to suit you: In mine and Kirsty experience, as we both had hi-top vans (4 person max) and smaller seated van (2 person max). We would personally never go back to a low top van, after experiencing both I think having a hi-top is just a lot more hassle free! Especially when your living with another person/people, the space is needed! Also if you decide on free camping, a hi-top is again more hassle free when it comes to cooking in the van and being able to move around. We also personally wouldn’t have more than four people in a van, there was three of us in a hi-top big Apollo Van and it was still such a tight squeeze! Although it was manageable, I think four would have been quite intense!
- WIKICAMPS: This app is now your go-to!! It’s a fiver on the App Store, but so worth it! The app shows you campsites (powered/paid or free) across the whole of Australia. On our travels, we used this daily to help find the campsites, see their facilities, read reviews and see photographs. It allowed us to be very flexible
- Fuel: Always check how far your next drive is and make sure your tank is full!!! During our adventures in Western Australia, we had an experience driving towards Point Anns through the national park where we really thought we weren’t going to make it back due to petrol…it was a Sunday, in the middle of nowhere and we just made it back to the only petrol station around for miles!!
- Bring an Extension lead: Ideal for travelling anywhere around the world, but vans usually have only one or two plugs so this just allows you to charge multiple things at once which is ideal!
- Kangaroos and animals: In Australia, it’s important to really watch out for wildlife and animals, especially at dusk or in the early morning. Kangaroos can jump out without looking, and there can sometimes be road kill in the middle of the roads which can get in the way!
- Travel in summer: Travelling Australia in winter was still amazing, but do it in summer if you can!!! It was hard to stay warm.
- Buy Tupperware and meal prep: Top tip when your on the go and trying to save in Australia! Meal prep! We found making meals in advance meant we had more freedom in the day to eat on the go, whilst exploring and saved us money!
- Have a day bag: whether you have a rucksack or suitcase, it’s hard to have space when there’s two or more of you in a van. Myself and Kirsty found having day bags with our essentials in such as toiletries/ underwear and outfits in meant everything was hassle free and easier to move around and get ready in the mornings. Also saving the time from having to open up and try rummage through your big bags!
- Plan your route before the day: To help save time and allow you to know where the nearest petrol stations are and campsite, I recommend planning a night before or day before if your doing any long drives. Petrol stations can be far from one another, so its good to know where you can stop along the way!
- What the Van comes with: All our vans came with bedding, tea towels and pots and bans and cutlery also. Some of them sometimes came with washing up liquid but some of them didn’t! So once you get the van all you really need is food, washing up liquid and tea!
- EMBRACE AND ENJOY it: Van life is amazing! Of course, it takes some getting used to but you adjust to taking things in turns with the people your living with, moving around and getting things in and out. And you get in a rhythm of the lifestyle pretty quick! I personally think Van life is the best and only way to experience Australia! Being in control of your adventures, how long you stay in places and where you stay and explore is amazing- there’s no time limit and you are in full control of how you spend your time. It’s also like your own little home on wheels. I found it so nice being settled in each van and felt sad saying goodbye to each one. So embrace it and enjoy every second!
I hope this may answer some of your questions or helps with any interests you may have towards van life and exploring Australia. It was some of the best few weeks of my life, and I’d do it all again if I could! I’ll be posting my Australia round up post shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for that as that will talk more about my overall experiences and if you fancy watching my Van life videos too: CLICK HERE!
If there’s any more questions you have then please feel free to message me or comment below, happy to answer the best I can!
Love, India Moon.