I started this blog with the intention of helping others through talking about my experiences living permanently on the road travelling. Offering help and hints and tips to make life a little easier or less daunting for those thinking about making the change and becoming detached from the mortgage. Yet for the past few months it’s all been about walks, wildflowers, shells and nice camp spots. Perhaps it’s time to stray off that just for a minute and get back to a little about day to day life of living mobile.
It’s been about 12 months since I downsized from the bus into the caravan and around 16 months since moving out of my house, so what do I regret and what do I miss about not having a house?
The lack of privacy. Not always of course, I’ve been out in some beautiful remote places and had it all to myself. And sometimes just when you think you have it all to yourself, noisy neighbors arrive. Which of course isn’t always bad I’ve met some fantastic people along the way. But when you hit a city and you book into a caravan park, ouch, jammed in like sardines, queues for toilets at peak times and constant noise. Initially this never bothered me and I spent many months staying in caravan parks for extended periods of time when I first started living in the van. Perhaps it’s just nice when your new at something to surround yourself with others doing a similar thing so you can watch and learn and feel a little more comfortable. I learnt a lot from talking with Tony and Margaret, they were living in Rockingham holiday village and I stayed there off and on for 6 weeks or more. They had been living in their van for 9 years and Tony was filled with tips and tricks for me, the bathroom rail for a security door closer and towel holder, and the rear satellite dish holder made from a simple piece of bent pipe, the knotted cord in sail track. There we so many more but I should perhaps have a separate post with details about that sort of thing later.
So privacy, if you value it can still be available, but often your neighbours will be very close, and sometimes arrive when you least expect it, but generally you can find enough to fulfill your needs. Also if you like privacy for your ‘ablutions’, living in caravan parks will soon get you over that.
I miss having space sometimes, especially for cooking and food preparation, in the van your bench space is very limited and you really need to plan quite well because as soon as you lift your lid on the stove to cook things, you have literally lost half of your bench area. Then of course there’s just storage in general like dirty clothes, or not so dirty clothes, those ones that still have another wear left in them before washing. In many ways this is perhaps a good thing as you can’t collect too much stuff and you need to keep things reasonably tidy something I used to fail at quite often living in a house. It’s also nice not being able to buy things, having to stop yourself before impulse buying items because you realize that you just can’t store it anywhere.
That’s the stove on the far end, a convenient bench top when you’re not cooking, but once you lift it to cook your bench space if halved. As you can see from the photo below it’s not a large amount of living space, fridge to the right, door to the left and I’m standing in the small bathroom, but how much space do you need?
Friends and family. When you travel around from state to state you can be a long way from those people you care about. With modern technologies and communications I’ve found that it’s not so bad, I’ve had phone connection most of the time, even if it’s only enough for texts to trickle in and out. But you also meet new people along the way to share things with.
My washing machine, yes strangely enough I miss my washing machine. In the van I have a tiny washing machine really only suitable for washing 2 pairs of shorts and 3-4 Tshirts at a time. It also uses so much water and power that you really only want to use it if you are in a caravan park or have access to power and water, and if your in a caravan park then you may as well pay 3 or 4 dollars and use one of their large machines rather than doing multiple loads in the small machine.
Things I like? The freedom, freedom to do and be where I like and being able to explore. Being self sufficient, I’ve always loved self sufficiency and in the past this has generally been expressed through growing my own food, now it’s different, I can’t grow my own food but I’m almost completely self sufficient for all of my power needs. In the past month since leaving Fowlers bay I’ve plugged into the power once for a night at Adelaide and I’ve started the generator only 3 or 4 times over that month, when I’ve either been in a shady spot or there’s been numerous cloudy days. It surprises me how little power you need to live very comfortably. And water, I can live comfortably on 200L of water for a couple of weeks showering every day. If I was to fill all my tanks I’d have almost 500L, easily a month of happy living with all cleaning, washing, cooking and drinking except washing clothes.
So, over 12 months down the track do I regret it? Not likely. The pro’s far outweigh the negatives, even on days like today when it’s cold and blustery and raining outside, when my solar power is getting low because it’s been overcast for a few days now and I don’t really want to get out in the rain to start the generator. It’s all good, there’s enough battery to last a while yet, if the sun doesn’t come out later I’ll start the generator when the rain lets up. The laptop is charged, fresh coffee is brewing and I’ve got some music playing, if the weather stays like this I can always move further north where it’s a bit warmer.