This year many Aussie families have chosen to divert from their breaking neck pace lifestyles to embrace slow-living life, solely on their terms. The term coined for this modern Australian dream is called – Van Life. For some, it’s been years of saving and planning, and for others, the chaos of 2020 simply sparkled a snap decision to reimagine life and get busy ‘living’.
Whatever the reason, with more people choosing domestic travel and adventure over routine, it’s no surprise that caravan manufacturers are struggling to keep up with unprecedented production and Australia’s hot spots are booking out fast.
However, while Australian tourism receives a decent boost, what these Aussie families are really investing in is their health, well-being and relationships with each other.
So, if you have been contemplating packing your life into boxes in lieu of full-time travel (and a life less ordinary), below are five heart-warming and thought-provoking reasons why you should stop holding off and start organising your next adventure now…
1. You Will Have No Schedule
How often in life do you say yes, when you really mean no?
Well, there is none of that in van life. You are literally bound for nowhere, with nothing but time on your side. You choose where you go, and when. There are no mandatory meetings, bells ringing or invitations for events you don’t really want to attend stuck to the fridge.
The best thing about doing nothing you don’t want to do, and going nowhere you don’t want to go is that you have the mental space you need to become aware of what it is your heart truly desires. And the best part is, once you become aware of what that is, you have the time to actually do it.
You will be surprised what will surface when things finally go quiet…
2. You’re Not Getting Any Younger
Money is not the prime asset in life – time is. Time is depreciating and far more valuable than money will ever be. There is never a perfect time for anything in life, and we tend to find reasons why we can’t do things rather than ask ourselves why we can’t.
Van life allows you to embrace genuine freedom and live life in favour of time and all things meaningful in life. When you choose to pursue the things that make you feel alive, time is never wasted. Van Life is not just about the destinations you travel to, it’s about why you’re going and how you feel once you are there.
3. Personal Growth
It is through new experiences that we are able to learn and grow. If we don’t leave the harbour, we cannot experience the unknowns of the ocean and, there is only so much we can see from shore.
Travel pulls you out of your protected bubble and forces you to be more conscious, resourceful and resilient. The freedom of travel helps us reclaim our senses by reconnecting with others, nature and ourselves. Van life makes for the perfect conditions for us to morph into renewed versions of ourselves.
By breaking the routine of our daily grind, we can fully acknowledge and appreciate the power and strength of our belonging in this country. It is by living in alignment with our values that we allow the beauty of our authenticity to shine through, and when we no longer feel the need to conform with social expectations and conclude doing anything other than what’s meant for us, we begin to lead and create our own footprints, ahead of the footsteps we had trailed before.
The other way you can expect to grow is through the lessons you learn when navigating the emotional, mental and physical challenges of full-time travel. Full-time travel is not all sunshine, landmarks, beaches and breweries. There will be times when you find yourself in such unfamiliar territory that turning the car around and driving straight back home would seem the best and only option.
Bumps and slumps are part of the journey (just like the good parts) everything is real. Obstacles can and will arise because memories are made in real-time and nomads are still human. However, despite the uncomfortableness you may feel at times, I do believe this is yet another opportunity to practice resilience, learn and grow. You are who you really are when you’re travelling!
4. Find Your Tribe
This is about much more than just meeting new people and small talk. It’s about friendships that are built on a solid foundation of kindness, trust and deep connection. Most full-time travellers have left their villages of life-long friends and family behind, so, establishing connections on the road provides a sea of support and an opportunity to breathe positivity and reassurance into each other’s lungs when you need it most.
Travel buddies are integral, helpful, reassuring and almost always lifelong. Travelling alongside others who have equally invested everything into strengthening their family connections while experiencing Australia just as you have is such a beautiful part of the van life journey.
5. For The Kids
If the first four reasons weren’t convincing enough then surely this will be the one to tip the bucket in favour of full-time travel.
Firstly, our kids will receive the bragging rights for so many incredible experiences, and you can expect to be the #1 Mum and Dad in the world for a little while in their eyes. But joy and fun are not the main benefits of travel for kids.
The real evidence rests in the people they become, the life skills and attitudes they gain and the strength of their connections with their parents and siblings. These things are invisible and invaluable and can’t be taught in school. For adults each day is an experience, for children, it’s education. Kids are an inspiration to travel not a reason to stop. It is never too late for us to explore the world, and it is never too early for them to start.
Finally, van life is more than just amazing places, enviable rig set-ups, and beyond belief drone footage on Instagram – In fact, despite the hashtags, van life is not about your set up at all.
It doesn’t matter what vehicle you drive, what you tow behind you, or how much you spent setting it up. Being a nomad is an act of resistance against the daily grind and a way of life. It’s about taking control of your life by pursuing what makes you feel alive and having the courage to lean into your fears and grip with both hands the thrills of the unknown.
Embracing van life may not be easy to begin with, and it may take changes to your current lifestyle and mindset, in order for you to fully step into a new reality, but freedom and joy will be waiting on the other side of the sacrifice.
If you are currently experiencing mental health issues and need immediate support, please contact Life Line on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636. You are not alone, you are loved, and there are people who can and want to help you.