Hitting the road with nothing but yourself and a few suitcases is the most liberating feeling in the world. For me, nomad life meant selling everything I owned, packing my car full of the necessities, and leaving with no idea where the world, or my career would take me. If you are interested in living the full nomad life with HCA it is definitely possible, and if you are interested then this is the blog for you.
How do you start? You just do! Whether it is a well-thought-out decision or spur of the moment, taking that first step is the most daunting part. Sometimes the first step is just telling someone that this is what you want to do. If this is something you have considered for a while, you have a few things to think about… how will you travel around, what will you do with your stuff and what do you pack? Now we have a blog about what to pack for road trips on the HCA website, so for what to pack, go check that one out.
For me the decision happened after a breakup, and I was selling all my stuff anyway, so it made sense to plan to travel for a while before buying new furniture again. I started my nomad life with a Toyota Yaris (that car is surprisingly large inside – I fitted a lot of stuff), and later upgraded to a Toyota Prado with a rooftop tent! Having some sort of easy place to sleep in our on your vehicle definitely aids in the nomad life, whether that be a van, a bed in the back or a rooftop tent, there are a lot of free camp sites across Australia that make it easy to pull up and sleep when needed. For those who are wanting the nomad life, money is usually pretty tight and controlling what you spend and where is important, so utilising those free camp sites when you can, is essential. Most of the free camp sites I have stayed in are great and all you need for a quick stopover; some even have ALL amenities for no cost.
The Wikicamps app is awesome. This app allows you to see all the free and paid sites and has a huge range of filters, so you can find the ideal spot. It also lets you know which facilities have toilets, showers, power and all those finer details you need to know before making camp. WikiCamps has a rating system and reviewing system too so you can see when people stayed, what they said and what they loved or didn’t love about the site.
HipCamp is also a great platform that allows you to find more unique stays on people’s properties, farms etc, that may be cheaper alternatives than organised camp spots or caravan parks.
A good thing to note is that a lot of sites around Australia don’t have reception or phone coverage. Usually, WikiCamps lets you know which sites don’t have reception, but it is good to plan ahead. Having a dongle or an alternative source of internet is often very helpful not only for nomad life but for your contracts too as some locations the internet is very patchy! You can get these dongles from Telstra (usually the best provider for these locations) and you can connect your phone, computer, or iPad to this for service.
If you are wanting to do some very rural and remote spots, you are going to want to get a UHF or CB radio. Whether you want something more permanently installed into your car or just have a handheld device, these allow you to contact people nearby in case of emergencies or just to chat to other friends who have one that you might be travelling with, or other trucks on the road. They have a specific distance of reach, so have a look into them and get the best one for your travels.
Another tip is to always tell someone where you are going. Just like if you were going to do a long hike, let someone know your plans for that day. Reception can be in and out and having that safety net that someone knows where you are, is important. Even if it’s the general direction, where you are planning to stay that night or where you have just left, especially if you’re travelling alone.
Having back up fuel is also a must – always have a jerry can in the back of the car and a water supply in case you get stuck. You can get giant containers of water or lots of little bottles so you can stay hydrated. Know where everything is in your car for a flat tyre is also KEY. Familiarise yourself with your vehicle and where things are. Also know how to check your engine for simple things like oil, water, coolant so that if something happens you may be able to narrow down why. And if not, having NRMA or RACQ or whichever roadside assistance is best for you or your area, is crucial. Yes, it’s a small fortune sometimes but you never know what could happen and having that there as a back-up will ease some stress if anything adverse does occur.
Easily stackable boxes from bunnings are also awesome to keep things tidy! They allow easy access to clothes or belongings as travelling over a long period of time, things can get messy! As well as this, having a good cooking set including pan, saucepan, camp kettle and utensils as well as a gas burner is great in case you stop somewhere with no power. In saying this, always having gas supply back up is important, so you don’t run out, and you can cook food/heat water when you need to.
I think the best advice is to try and stay ORGANISED – have a spot for everything, so you know where it is, because once it all gets jumbled it can be very stressful. Have a spot for your emergency car supplies, jump leads, a spot for your clothes and belongings, a spot for kitchen and cooking supplies and a spot for things you might need all the time such as bug spray, water, sunscreen, toothbrush and all that jazz.
The nomad life can go however you want it to! It all depends on how you want to do it and what your journey is going to be like. Some people might need more if they are going to do more off-roading, or some might need less if you have a kitchen built into your van, for example. There are also great online forums and Instagram pages of others doing the exact same thing! The nomad community is awesome, and everyone is always willing to help.
We would love to hear your top tips for nomad life, head over to Facebook or Instagram and flick us a message with your awesome ideas and tricks 😊
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