Australia New Zealand

13 Lessons I Learnt About Myself After Living in a Campervan!

Campervan in Australia showing one of the lessons I learnt about myself whilst living in a campervan

When I think back to how I ‘holidayed’ a few years ago I can’t quite believe that now I’d rather pitch up a tent or spend a month in a campervan! I used to be quite the ‘all-inclusive resort’ kind of girl. But since jetting off to Australia I’ve found a love for being in the backcountry and that really began after our first campervan road trip! It’s coming up to a year since we rented our first house on wheels from Camperman Australia so to reminisce I thought I’d put together some of the lessons I learnt about myself after living in a campervan.

During our time in Australia, we hired two campervans both for around six weeks each.  We then hired one when we touched down in New Zealand for a month too! So all in all, though it might not have been consecutive, David and I have lived in a camper for three months. Living in a campervan is such an experience. It’s out with all the materialistic things in life, which we really don’t need, and into the wild.

Literally, your neighbours are likely to become mosquito’s and breakfast is served outside come rain, shine, wind or frost! 

I honestly had no idea how I’d cope with living in a van! I’m a lover of hot showers and nights curled up watching Netflix. I love a full fridge and having my own space to read, create and blog! Put all these things together and throw a campervan into the mix and you get, a tiny bar fridge, a living area, bedroom and toilet all in one and absolutely ZERO personal space! I had no idea whether it was going to be for me! 

Campervan in Australia showing one of the lessons I learnt about myself whilst living in a campervan
Another big lesson I learnt about myself whilst living in a campervan? I’m pretty good at improvising!

If I ask myself when I’ve been the happiest in my entire life, it’s those months in the campervan. 

Falling in Love with Life Outside 

Lucky for me I took to van life like the country girl I am at heart. I bloody well loved it! For the first time in my life, I felt freedom. Waking up in the mornings and feeling the cool air on my skin before doing anything else. Cooking breakfast on the hob and sitting outside with a book and a cup of tea.

Honestly, those campervan mornings were when I learnt the most about myself. It felt like we had all the time in the world probably because we were waking up with the sun. Waking up at 5 am honestly takes your day to a whole new level! Who knew there were so many hours in the day when you aren’t lazing around in bed until noon? 

Dave eating breakfast outside our campervan
A gourmet breakfast outside..

Of course, it isn’t just breakfast that’s ate outside. It’s every single meal, just sitting with Dave outside at the table chatting about the day, our travel plans, our life plans, it slaps a huge smile on my face just thinking about these moments! Our first trip in our campervan was actually the trip that really got me thinking about pursuing this blog as a career. I think it was because as I mentioned earlier I just felt completely free. My creativity was at an all-time high and I would love to be able to take regular campervan trips!  

Some Things I Didn’t Like About Living in a Campervan!

But like everything in life living in a campervan isn’t always plain sailing. I hated going to the toilet in the middle of the night! At age 25 I’m always up in the night and if I somehow manage to hold it in I am literally bursting at the seams come the morning. God help me when I have kids right?

The amount of dirt that gets inside the bed is also pretty gross. No matter how hard we tried bits of the ground, leaves, soil, dirt, bark always found their way inside! Storage space is also a little limited, especially for food! When we return to the UK and hopefully, buy our own campervan, storage space will be a biggie! 

I could honestly write separate posts on the pros and cons of living in a campervan. In fact, I think I’ll add those to the never-ending ‘blog post lists’ to write! But for now, I want to talk about the lessons I’ve learnt about myself whilst living in a campervan. I had some real home truths come to light whilst living in the van and also some real ‘this is me’ moments. That probably makes no sense but just keep reading to find out the lessons I learnt about myself, things I may have never discovered if we hadn’t taken these minimalist van life trips! 

13 Lessons I Learnt About Myself After Living in a Campervan 

I Can Be a Morning Person

Ask anybody close to me and they’ll tell you I’m not a morning person.  My mum still doesn’t speak to me until I’ve had my first cuppa of the day. Back in Sheffield, I used to sleep in until 11 am on my days off work. Even when we first got to Australia I was still enjoying lazing around until 10ish and then wondering why I ‘had no time to blog’. But after living in a campervan and being woken up by the sun every morning, it proved that I could get up early and actually enjoy it. In fact, on our trip getting up and having a brew outside first thing in the morning was my favourite part of the day. 

The Sun is the Best Alarm Clock

Continuing from my previous point, the sun is the best and only alarm clock we should ever need. It’s not natural for our bodies to be startled awake by a painful jingle harrowing into our eardrums. It’s no wonder so many of us feel like getting up after we’ve been brutally disturbed from our beauty sleep by such a noise! Waking up naturally because of the light allowed my body to feel like it had woken itself up and was ready to conquer the day.  

sunset view from the back of the campervan
Sunsets from the van are pretty great too…

I Don’t Need as Much Personal Space as I think!

I love my own space. Until this trip, I was certain that I needed my space to stop myself becoming anxious and a little crazy. Of course, I still love having space and time to myself but I realised on this trip that I wasn’t craving it as much as I thought I would. Maybe it’s because I love my partner dearly and we can happily spend 24 hours a day 7 days a week together. My idea of personal space changed from needing hours by myself to having a cup of tea by myself before Dave got up. Or taking a short walk to the local coffee shop to return with coffee and a pastry. Perhaps it was just because spending so much time outside did wonders for my mental health and I was in a clearer headspace. 

I Can Live Without Netflix 

I’ve always been more of a reader than a television watcher but when I start a series on Netflix I find it so hard to switch off! I’m often late to bed and tired the following day after watching way too many episodes of Gossip Girl! Living in a van forced me to open those books on a night because I didn’t have Netflix as a distraction. 

Mornings Outside Are the Best Way for Me to Start the Day 

Being outside first thing in the morning allowed me to be in such much more relaxed/mindful headspace. I took time to reflect on the past few days, think about the day ahead and other aspects of my life. Spending so much time outside in the early AM prepared me for a much more productive day. I try and adopt these practices whilst not living in a van but I must admit it’s hard with day to day life, living in the city with no outside space. 

One of my favourite sunrises from a freedom camping spot in New Zealand
One of my favourite sunrises from a freedom camping spot in New Zealand

Note to Self: I must try and get out early for morning walks more. 

TMI Alert – I Love David So Much

Prepare for some mega cheese right here! I knew this already but as a couple, I was so interested to see what living in a campervan would be like! There is literally no space to get away from each other and no matter how much you love someone that can be a lot! But for Dave and I, life was no different. We didn’t argue, we didn’t get sick of each other, we agreed on most things. Being so close to one another at all times had no negative impact on our relationship. We’ve always lived in each other’s pockets since we met but being such a tiny space together was something new for us! It just made realise how lucky I am to have met someone and have that kind of relationship!

If you want to test your relationship then van lie could be a great way – if you can live in a van together you can do ANYTHING!

Things Don’t Buy Happiness

Whilst travelling around the world for the last 15 months we haven’t really had all the material things that we had back home but we still bought things we didn’t need. Campervan life is so stripped back and proved to me that I don’t need all that aesthetic and materialistic stuff. Google home? I can live without you. TV? Yep, I can live without you too! I realised that a lot of the time we buy things to distract ourselves from other things going on in our minds and sometimes we just buy shit because we can! Money is so much more valuable when spent on experiences, not things! 

I Could Go Vegetarian 

I’m not a veggie and I’ve never considered it. Not because I can’t live without meat I’d just not ever mindfully thought about it. But if someone asked me I think I’d always say ‘I could never go veggie’ but I definitely could. During our campervan life we hardly ever ate meat. Our meals never consist of much meat, mainly because of our backpacker budget and meat costs a fortune in Australia.  It certainly got me thinking about continuing to reduce how much meat we eat in the future. 

I can be SO Lazy!

Confession time, sometimes I can be a lazy sod! The number of times I was sat in the van holding my bladder because it was cold outside or not showering because it was too far from the van. After a week I started cutting it out because I was. Recognising that I was just being lazy and I  hate lazy people! 

Campervan parked up
Just another campervan shot…

Things I can’t Live Without

Living in a campervan definitely gives you an idea of what you can’t live without in life. Here I’m talking about things rather than people. The things I learnt that I can’t live without whilst living in a van are:

  • Books – I already knew this but it just made it more apparent. I can live without TV but not my books. They help me escape to a fictional reality and just relax.
  • Tea – I’m a typical Brit and I could not live with TEA EVER! 
  • A Dressing Gown – I love being warm and if I could live in my dressing gown I would. I got rid of it before our campervan trip and it’s safe to say I don’t think I’ll be parting with it again! 
  • Pen and Paper – We rely on technology so much these days but when the WIFI is crap and signal non-existent a good old fashioned pad and papers brings such joy. From playing games to writing life lists I’ve always got paper and pens with me wherever I go!
Making a cup of tea in our campervan
Just give us tea and we are happy people!

I Don’t Need a Shower Everyday…

Showering kind of goes out of the window especially when you’re freedom camping in New Zealand! Freedom camping is when you don’t pay for campsites you just camp in public places. It’s great because it saves so money but it can be pretty gross! I think the total days we went without showering was maybe four or five – I’m cringing just writing this out but it’s the truth! 

I’m a lot better in traffic! 

Some, David, may not agree with this but sometimes whilst living and travelling in campervan timing doesn’t work out. Some days you need to stop more, sometimes the traffic is horrendous and there ain’t nothing you can do about it! I’m learning to be a lot more realistic and just embrace it when our plans and schedule go a little off course. 

I CAN drive something bigger than a Fiat 500 

When we took our first road trip in a camper from Cairns to Sydney I was bricking it. As the only driver between us, it was up to me to get us from A to B in a huge home on wheels! Before moving to Australia I owned and drove a Fiat 500, one of the smallest cars around. I adored it,  I could whip into just about any parking space and squeeze down many a cramped side street! But I was terrified about driving this long, tall and narrow-hunk of metal around. Turned out driving is the same in any car its spacial awareness that’s different but so far I’ve driven 3 of these beasts with zero issues. GO ME. 

I can also drive and automatic and now I believe that manual cars no longer need to exist. 

Sharing is Caring

I hope you enjoyed this little insight into the lessons I’ve learnt about myself whilst living in a campervan! Living in a vehicle is a great way to discover what you really want and need from life.  Whenever I’m curating life goals I’m always taken back to our trips on the road. They are my happiest times and I honestly believe it’s got a lot to do with, minimalism, being outside, cooking outside and being forced (due to ropey phone signal) to spend time offline. Don’t get me wrong I know I couldn’t live in a campervan full time but it’s my favourite way to travel for an extended trip. I reckon three months in a campervan right now would be my limit. 

I hope you enjoyed this post, I know it’s a little different from my usual posts but I honestly love writing more about my thoughts and opinions. I’m going to start writing more of these posts on my blog. So please, if you did enjoy this post please let me know by leaving a comment, DM on Instagram, or email! I would also love to know if you didn’t enjoy it too but please be kind! 

Happy Travels, 

Alicia 

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