The truth about budget travel…
Ever wondered what the WORST part of travelling is?! Can the worst things also be the best things?!
Living in a box on wheels comes with its own unique challenges. Sure, there are plenty of amazing things about living this lifestyle, but what about some of the ones that suck?! One thing I often say to people who are considering travelling is that the easy things become the hardest. What do I mean by that? Well, ever considered what life would be like with a limited water supply, no hot water on demand, no washing machine, no shower, no flushing toilet (Or one you need to empty yourself *gag*)? What about if your kitchen and fridge were an extra in the movie “Honey I shrunk the kids” and suddenly were so small you barely had enough bench space to lay out the ingredients to cook dinner, let alone room to prepare it!
Sure, buying a nice new caravan and staying at $40+ a night caravan parks makes life a bit easier, but that’s not something that’s achievable for us and many others, so here’s a bit of an insight into what life is ACTUALLY like for us on a daily basis!
Because we only store 100L of water, we often need to ship water in. Since we’ve been at Minnie Water, that involves a 3.6km round trip down a crappy dirt road to the nearest tap. Whilst we’re there we fill 2 x 20L solar bags that sit in the sun and heat up. Whilst solar bags are SO handy, they are also not much good in cool weather or cloudy days. When it’s time for a shower we mix the hot water from the solar bag with some cool water to get the right temperature for Jaiden and I. We both shower with less than 10L of water so the remaining water gets used for dishes. If there’s no sun then we boil water, 2L at a time in a kettle over the stove to do what we need to.
When it comes to toileting, we do have a small porta potty that we can use if there are no toilets, but that then means driving somewhere to a dump point and emptying it once it’s full, which is a lovely experience in itself (*Sarcasm intended*). If there’s a toilet onsite then you’re spared the dump point run, but it means that first thing in the morning you’re forced to get dressed and make the walk to the amenities block to do your business, which in the case of Minnie Water, is a drop toilet. Yep, we’re crappin’ in a hole in the ground.. It’s a hell of a way to start the day..
Then there’s washing… Kids get dirty, right? So imagine your kids are not at school and instead are spending 10 hours a day, every day, getting filthy. All I can say is that your idea of “Clean clothes” changes a LOT… Having a swim in the ocean and rinsing them off in the shower is a TOTALLY acceptable way to wash your clothes. After about 5 rounds of this your nice clothes feel somewhat like cardboard, so then it’s a trip to the Laundromat! Which for us, is currently 45 minutes away and $10 to wash all of our clothes. Yes, we wait until we have no clothing left before we go wash it, don’t judge me..
Then there’s food storage and preparation. We have a (comparatively) large fridge in our caravan which does make life easier, but it’s still a tiny little thing. Wanna buy Celery? Nah, no room for that! A whole cabbage?! Ha, idiot! What about a whole watermelon? Not a chance.. Learning to shop so you can fit everything in the fridge takes a bit of practice and adjustment. Meal preparation is like a game of tetris thanks to limited bench space. Suddenly cutting up all your vegetables to make a stir fry requires more planning than a family holiday, the good news is once it’s in the wok you’re home and hosed! Oh shit, the gas ran out, so now the fridge is not working AND I can’t cook dinner, to Bunnings we go! May as well grab something from woollies for dinner whilst we’re there… Believe it or not, I could go on!
I hear some of you saying “How on earth could ANY of this also be the best thing about travelling?!”. Well, when we visit a friend and turn on the shower and an endless supply of water comes out that can be made to the correct temperature with just the turn of a nozzle, it’s like Christmas! Even washing dishes is suddenly enjoyable! Going to the toilet and pressing a button and having it all disappear into another dimension, amazing! Walking a few steps to the laundry to turn on a washing machine and have it fill with water, without coins, what is this sorcery?! Opening up the fridge to find every condiment known to man, cupboards full of every herb and spice and a bench large enough to actually use them?! It’s like being a kid in a candy store! I’ve not even mentioned what it’s like to be able to use power without worrying about the battery going flat, or checking tomorrows weather before deciding to turn on the TV and watch a documentary..
Sure, this life is a simple life. Daily chores and the necessities become SO much harder, and yes, after a while the novelty does wear off. However, when we are treated to the creature comforts that so many take for granted, we appreciate it so much more. Whilst water runs and drop toilets might not be for everyone, waking up and looking out the window to see the waves rolling in, all for $18 a night makes it totally worthwhile, especially when I get to share this adventure and lifestyle with Jaiden.
So the next time you get envious about the life we live remember that we’re filling up our water supply by hand and crapping in a hole in the ground… But loving every moment of it..