Discovering the Vanlife (pt.2)

Here we are, beautiful, clean, with a perfectly well functioning car and a few useful apps to know where to sleep at night (See previous article “Discovering the Vanlife (pt.1)“). But what about cooking, grocery shopping and dirty clothes ?
The next few points will help you to have an overview on all the little details that you shouldn’t forget :

Food : Since we are frenchies, meals were one of the most important moments of the day for us. That’s why we always took our time and did our grocery shopping with care. Usually, we went grocery shopping once or twice a week. However, since we didn’t have a fridge but just a cooler, we went grocery shopping more often (every two days) in very hot areas (especially Darwin and the desert). What you eat while traveling depends on your priorities. Eating well, was our number one priority ! We used to buy a lot of different fruits and vegetables as well as dry food (pasta, rice,..) and tins (once again, especially in heated places). Cheese also definitely had an impact on our budget.. So hard to go without cheese more than a few days, even though the prices here were crazy compared to back home ! We bought only a very small quantity of meat as one of us is vegetarian, but meat was pretty affordable. Finally, we loved our little guilty pleasures such as cookies, biscuits, crisps, .. All of this cost about 130/140 AUD$ per week for two people. But just to be clear, eating well was our number one priority, we ate well and ate big quantities. If eating well and a lot isn’t a big concern for you, you’ll have no problem spending less money in groceries. We had friends that ate noodles every evening and sandwiches at noon, their grocery budget had nothing to do with ours !

We had a small stove linked to a bottle of gaz (2L) that we used every day. Our kitchen was at the back of our car, we arranged it to be fully functional with a shelf, some drawers and what we called our “fridge” (the cooler) within easy reach. Bonus : The car’s trunk kept us dry even in bad weather. It’s up to you to make your kitchen area feel comfortable. A lot of people also take out their camping table and chairs to cook, usually with a small camping stove. In that case, you just need a tarpaulin and a bit of resourcefulness to be protected from bad weather.

Laundry : We did our laundry about once a week. You can usually find laundromats in every town, big or small. We didn’t have much difficulty finding laundromats, except maybe when we were in the desert. In that case, we washed our clothes by hand and we hanged our clothes on a thread outside (sometimes inside our van if it rained but rarely). With the Australian sun, you usually don’t have to worry about your clothes drying, it’s so fast ! To help you find a laundromat, we can only advise you to use the same apps as before : Wikicamps or Campermate that show you where the laundromats are, with ratings and usually the price in the comments.

Petrol : Petrol is less expensive in Australia than in France. The New Zealand price is closer to the French one. To find a gas station not far from you, there are also a lot of different apps that can come in handy like Gaspy or Fuel map Australia. If you are going to undertake a long trip with very few gas stations on the road (usually mentioned on a sign), we would advise you to have a jerrycan full of petrol in your car, especially if your car has a small tank like ours. When we crossed the desert, apart from our 33L tank, we had 30L of petrol (20L jerrycan + 10L jerrycan). If you go through the desert, it’s better to have full jerrycans, not only to avoid a breakdown but also because the petrol costs a whole lot more money in the desert than anywhere else in the country !

Once you’ve found a good organisation regarding these daily tasks, they won’t bother you anymore. Grocery shopping, finding petrol, feeling clean are the only “problems” that you’ll have to face while living in a van !
We hope that this article will help you a bit to organise yourself.
In the meantime, we hope that you are already picturing yourself driving your little wheeled-house, traveling the vast landscapes of your dreamed country !

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