Big Lap Recap – How To Create a Business & Fund Your Travels
Are you inspired by all the stories of people doing epic things on the road, vans and motorhomes? Well, now you have your own big lap community right here in Australia.
In this video, we have Jack and Tracey of @itslifeletslive who recently finished their big lap since travelling in 2020. From postponed plans of international travel, due to Covid lockdowns, they decided to turn something negative into a positive by getting their own bus and modifying it for their trip around Australia.
Learn how to fund your travels, create a business while travelling Australia, and find a way to give back to the community as you travel the big lap. Look into a glimpse of their setup and lifestyle as they spent almost 2 years on the road
Welcome to Aussie Travel Stories, the series where we ask Aussie travellers questions to help inspire and educate the Big Lap community to enjoy the greatest road trip of their lives.
Tracy: We’re Jack and Tracy. An Aussie, and Canadian, who after living the nine-to-five life on the gold coast in Australia, decided to renovate a bus, pack up our apartment, and move in to experience life on the road full time. Join us through the ups and downs as we explore our way around this beautiful country.
Tracy: Hey Big Lap Bible. We are Jack and Tracey from @itslifeletslive on Instagram and we are here to answer some questions about our Big Lap.
What’s Your Travel Story?
Jack: Well, considering we haven’t had an address, like a fixed address, for nearly two years, I guess you’d say at this point we are full-time travellers.
Tracey: We have been travelling officially full-time since October 2020.
Why did you decide to do a Big Lap?
Tracey: So, we decided to do our big lap of Australia when Covid happened. So, all of our plans that we initially had, and that we were saving up money for, to go overseas to South America, unfortunately, due to Covid, Australia closed its borders. We knew we still wanted to travel so the next best thing was to buy a bus, renovate it and go explore our own backyard.
What is your setup?
Jack: So, the setup that we had, and that we just moved on, was a Mazda T3500 little minibus. Sort of like a Toyota Coaster. The “magic school bus”, it was.
Tracey: The magic school bus, it had a lot of nicknames, that bus.
Jack: I mean it had everything you needed. The double bed at the back, a full kitchen, a little living area, an inside shower that we never used, because it became storage, an outside shower, the lot. It was home.
Tracey: Yeah, we definitely made a good choice with that bus for our lap because it definitely felt like we really were at home everywhere that we went.
Where do you stay – caravan parks? Free camps? Both?
Tracey: So, while we were doing our lap of Australia, we definitely had a bit of a mixed bag between paid campsites such as caravan parks and also free bush camps that we’d find along the way on Wikicamps. We definitely had a preference for both, but I’d say we generally would stay at a caravan park, one to two nights per week, and that would just be a really good time for us to reset, have a nice hot shower, do laundry, get stocked up on groceries and things of that nature.
But, I think we definitely preferred free camps on the road because you could really feel like you were fully immersed in nature a lot of the time. You’d have a lot of places completely and utterly to yourself which was amazing. And, that’s such a big part of what van bus/life is. Just really being able to find little slices of paradise in any little pocketing corner.
What is the best camping spot you’ve stayed at?
Tracey: That’s such a hard question. That’s so hard.
Jack: When you’ve done a lap of Aus, I don’t know how we’re expected…
Tracey: We have like a year and a half’s worth of memories of campsites to like file through and be like, “Where was our favourite”?
Jack: Well, mine is Betty’s Beach in WA. That was stunning. That was just fantastic.
Tracey: That was a pretty epic one, and it was free. For me, coincidentally, my favourite campsite that we stayed at was in South Australia, along the Eyre Peninsula. It’s a place called Greenly Beach, and I would say, hands down, that was my favourite camp that we went to because it had everything in the one place you could have.
Tracey: It’s like crystal blue water, epic sunsets and sunrises. Was it sunset? It was sunset.
Jack: Sunsets over the water.
Tracey: Yeah, sunsets, because I was thinking of WA. But no, you could have some epic sunsets over the water, Jack was able to go spearfishing and surfing all in the same place, and it was just an incredible spot to just camp out. Amazing. Just, an amazing, amazing, amazing experience there.
Where is the best place you’ve ever been?
Jack: Well, I think for sure, our favourite state is Queensland. And, especially tropical North Queensland. I’m pretty sure that I was in love with that area the most. I think you were too. Just the stretches of tropical beaches. Port Douglas area
Tracey: So incredible!
Jack: Ellis Beach?
Tracey: Yes, Ellis Beach was amazing.
Jack: All of that was just… We like a tropical vibe, so that was our favourite I reckon.
Is there a place you won’t go back to?
Jack: It was a great place, we were just there at the wrong time of year.
Tracey: Yeah, so we would not go back to Darwin during the build-up season. That was a huge mistake on our end.
Jack: Build-up season.
Tracey: It is absolutely terrible up there, at that time of year, especially when you are confined to living in a vehicle without air conditioning.
Jack: That’s the season, by the way just before the wet season, and the humidity is building and building and building. It’s just unbearable.
Tracey: We truly never experienced heat like that in our entire lives and,
Jack: We lost our minds.
Tracey: We did lose our minds, a little bit of our sanity for sure. So, that part of our trip, we would definitely never relive again, being in Darwin during that time of year just because it was so mentally and physically draining.
Jack: The right time of year though it would be epic.
Tracey: Yeah, Darwin is a really cool place.
Where can’t you wait to go?
Tracey: One place that we cannot wait to go back to, because it’s, unfortunately, a pretty epic spot that we had to miss during our lap, is Exmouth in WA. And, Jack as a surfer, we were absolutely gutted that we had to miss that spot. But, just during the time of year that we were travelling, there were zero campsites available, and there was just absolutely nowhere to stay.
And, Jack had recently just recovered from, or was, slowly recovering from a surfing injury so it just wasn’t the spot for us to try to sneakily stealth camp in while Jack was injured. So, that is, unfortunately, one place that we are absolutely devastated about that we missed during our lap. But, we are definitely going to go back there the first chance we get
Jack: Oh yeah, we’ll get there.
Any scary or funny moments on the road?
Tracey: So, do you want to go scary or funny? Because I feel like there’s a bit of a mixed bag.
Jack: I don’t know why this just came up, but when the guy looked down our window? It’s just kind of random. Because it’s a quick story… What? do you have anything else?
Tracey: Should I think of uh… I think the grasshoppers?
Jack: Oh yeah that’s pretty good. Yeah, okay you do that.
Tracey: No, you do it.
Jack: But, that was on the way to the Nullarbor Roadhouse?
Tracey: No, that was in WA, on our way to Karijini National Park.
Jack: Oh, okay.
Tracey: We clearly drive a lot. We have a lot in the memory bank.
Jack: Uh, so, where was it?
Tracey: In WA.
Jack: You say where it was.
Tracey: So, a really funny story, something that just comes to memory quickly, is when we were travelling in WA, through some of the outback areas, I’m going from the coast to get into Karijini National Park…
Jack: Yeah, we were just hit with a swarm of grasshoppers. And, unless you’ve seen it, nothing compares. It’s like they’re millions of them, and you’re driving sort of through them. And, looked left and there were just swarms of them.
Tracey: And, I’m talking grasshoppers like this big like girthy. Grasshoppers I’ve never seen the size of anything else in my life.
Jack: And, they were travelling side by side with, at the speed that the bus was, and like they were massive. And there was like a swarm of them on the passenger side that started to like direct and hone in towards the passenger window, and she’s like trying to roll the window up and these things were just huge. I swear they like eyeballed you and went just like (expression) that’s the way they looked you in the eye.
Tell us how you fund your Big Lap and budget – did you save before you left? Do you work on the road?
Tracey: So before we took off on our lap, Jack and I both had corporate jobs on the Gold Coast in Queensland, and we saved, I would say, solidly saving for about a year and a half before we took off on our lap. And, we did work twice while we were on the road over the course of a year and a half.
There are so many jobs and interesting work opportunities everywhere you go throughout Australia. And, we did two remote jobs for a couple of months each go. Just working in hospitality and just kind of all-rounder positions. And, then we also were able to do a lot of freelance videography work through a production company that we started while we were travelling.
How much do you spend and what is your biggest expense?
Jack: So, our weekly spend, our allowance, and this comes as a surprise to some people, but it was between like $750 like $700-$750 a week. But, mind you, that’s like everything. Fuel, accommodation costs if we needed them, food. Phone bills like Netflix, every single thing, per week give or take 700-750. Which, you know, when you think that’s everything, for two people, that’s not so bad. I think some people’s rent is 700 bucks a week.
Tracey: I think there’s a very big misconception though, that once you move into a van, all of your expenses go away, but that is very false. But, we know people that spend a lot more each week on the road, and we also know travellers that spend a heck of a lot less. So you can definitely make it.
Jack: It depends on how you want to live. We love our food, she loves cooking. So, we spend a bit on food. And, you know, you can do the rice and beans, seven days a week, if you like but that just wasn’t the dream that we saved up for.
Tracey: We worked too hard to eat rice and beans seven days a week. But I would say, food, because, you also kind of want to give back to the towns that you’re travelling in, through the cafes, and the restaurants, and stuff. We think that’s really important to actually give back to the small businesses in the towns that are showing you hospitality. So, we definitely spent more on food and groceries and just dining experiences. As well as fuel some weeks because, for example, if you’re in the outback, fuel prices are not cheap and you have to do a lot of kilometres over a lot of hours, so that definitely adds up.
What’s something you know now but didn’t do before you left?
Jack: If you’re planning on taking off, and doing a lap for like seven-eight months, or more, a year plus, just remember, you’re taking on a lifestyle. You’re not taking on a holiday at that point. You’re taking on a new way of living that comes with different challenges to what normal life might. Living on the road doesn’t mean it’s a life without challenges because there are plenty of them, they’re just different to what you’re used to. And, you do have to get used to them and realize it’s all part of the fun and the adventure.
Tracey: In a really non-scary way, it’s not all that you see on Instagram, living this lifestyle. And, I think that is a little bit of a misconception. So, yeah. Exactly how Jack put it. You still have those challenges of everyday life but they’re completely different from what you’d be used to. Like living in your house your apartment or whatever your setup is. And, you fellow van lifers out there know what I’m talking about.
What is your favourite thing about travelling?
Tracey: So, my favourite thing about travelling, specifically our lap of Australia, was so much about the community of people that you meet along the way. And, what I mean by that is intimately, right off the bat, whether you’re like a neighbour to somebody at a campsite, or whatever the case, it could be somebody that just likes your setup, and they make casual conversation with you in the car park, it really is just meeting all different kinds of people and building relationships with other travellers quite quickly because you have such a big common ground.
And, it takes a very specific personality type, or a specific kind of person to live this kind of lifestyle. So, to instantly have something that’s so in common, where you have a lot of the same values and mindset towards, just kind of like life, and travel, and kind of spending your money on these… how do you explain… those really incredible experiences. I think for us well for me personally it was the best part of doing our lap and travelling full-time.
What has been your biggest splurge? Was it worth it?
Tracey: This question has a very funny answer. So, our biggest, did you want to answer this?
Jack: Uh, mostly mechanical. Mostly mechanical maintenance was our biggest splurge.
Tracey: Definitely! I think there’s like a couple of things here and there that Jack and I were like, “Let’s spend my money on this”.
Jack: The only thing I think of like leisurely, was some experiences on Whitsundays in Queensland on a boat and things like that. But, realistically, it was things like a whole brand new gearbox at the very end of the trip, so we could complete our lap.
Tracey: So, I say that the gearbox…
Jack: (sighs )The list goes on.
Tracey: The gearbox at the end of the lap was definitely worth a splurge, so we could actually say that we finished our lap so that was definitely worth it.
Jack: Budget for mechanical issues, especially if your vehicle is 36 years old like ours was.
Tracey: But the thing is, there’s no such thing as a perfect setup. So, even vehicles that are brand new, when you’re living in something every single day, unfortunately, there could be things that go wrong here and there, unless you’re just like a token of luck. Which we are definitely not.
How were you affected by the lockdown?
Jack: Quick answer, we weren’t really. We spent one mini-lockdown in Perth for about a week. Luckily, we were already in a hotel because our bus was getting fixed for some reason.
Tracey: So, luckily we spent the one lockdown we had already in a hotel so we weren’t like bound to the walls of our bus by any means.
Jack: We got lucky. Every sort of state we travelled in at the particular time we were there, was doing really well. So, very fortunate to say we got lucky and skipped a lot of that.
Tracey: Yeah, definitely!
What is your biggest tip to other big lappers?
Tracey: I would have to say, my biggest tip to other lappers, and this is something that, I personally, did not take seriously enough prior to starting the lap, is as itchy feet as you have to just kind of hit the road and get travelling, I highly, highly recommend travelling with the seasons. Because, we heard that, and we’re just like, “Oh, a little bit of rain, a little bit of heat, how bad could it be? We’re living the dream”.
So, definitely take that advice with a grain of salt because there are a lot of uncomfortable situations we easily could have avoided if we actually travelled with the seasons accordingly. So, I think weather, of course, while you’re living in your bus or van plays a huge part in your experiences and how you enjoy certain areas or towns and things of that nature.
So, if you can, do the little part that you can on doing your research on when’s the best time of year to be in certain areas. I highly recommend going with those recommendations just to be a little bit more on the safe side.
Jack: I mean, if you’ve got a hundred-thousand-dollar caravan, then, maybe don’t worry so much. But, in general, especially having been from Australia, and thinking that season-schmeason it’s all going to be nice, it’s definitely beneficial to uh… yeah, what she said for sure.
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