Realities Of Living In A Van: Week 1 Fails & Successes

Living in a van in West Australia

This blog post is the first in a weekly series sharing the experiences of a real #vanlifer and the realities of living in a van. Each week, I will be publishing a post with the previous week’s failures and successes. I’ll do this for my entire four-month tour of Australia. Let’s see how my attitude towards van life evolves over that time! Sign up to be notified when a new post goes live.

It’s official; my home is now a small yet comfortable campervan that I’ve affectionately named Roma. Seven days ago, I left Perth to see and experience all that Australia can offer, travelling by road with my partner, Dave.

Campervan Conversion - Interior of Van


At this point, it still feels a little bit mental that each night, rather than booking into a backpacker hostel or returning to a budget hotel, I’ll be cooking, eating, relaxing, and sleeping in a space just five metres long by 2 metres wide. It’s even more mental that every single possession I have fits into this tiny space!

The good news is that week one of living in a van hasn’t been a total disaster. The engine hasn’t failed us, we haven’t had anything lost or stolen, and we’re still in a relationship. Considering we’ve driven just over 3000km up the coast of Western Australia since setting off, I’d say that’s pretty good going.

The route so far has included stops in:

So, one week into living in a van and travelling Australia here are some of the incredible moments we’ve had in these places, plus others that were… er, not quite so enjoyable.

Living in a van fails

  • The accidental killing of two birds (flew into our windscreen at speed)
  • Having to swerve two very dead cows in the middle of the highway
  • Forgetting to use fly screens and spending the entire night fighting flies and mosquitos
  • Our roof rack opening whilst travelling at 110kph and having to run down the highway chasing clothes
  • Learning to use a she-wee (so much more difficult than they make out!) and the accidental peeing on oneself that comes with it
  • Not cleaning the dishes straight away and needing to spend half an hour washing one pot the following morning
  • Forgetting to apply sunscreen on days we are mainly driving – resulting in immediate sunburn on rest stops from the harsh Australian sun

Living in a van successes

  • Effectively dodging at least five kangaroos and two lizards
  • Mastering the she-wee!
  • Not breaking or losing any of our possessions when moving from campsite to campsite
  • Sticking to our weekly budget ($240 per week plus fuel)
  • Witnessing epic sunsets and sunrises every.single.night (because WA sunsets are the best (see my post about why WA rivals the east coast) 
  • Keeping Roma relatively clean and tidy – well, on the inside at least
  • Our reliable Roma getting us safely from place to place with no engine issues (touch wood!)
  • Avoiding getting lost/driving at night because we’ve gotten lost
  • Working out the perfect set up to keep us cool at night (includes fan positioning, windows down, and door ajar but secured with bungee cord)

I won’t lie to you. There have been a couple of hot and sweaty nights that have prompted both Dave and I to think, “Why on earth are we living in a van?” Then we wake up to a stupendous sunrise, hear nature right outside our door, and remember why we started this crazy journey in the first place.

Living in a van immerses us in the stunning landscapes and scenery that Australia is simply overflowing with. That’s something we perhaps wouldn’t see if we flew from destination to destination, or snoozed on public transport. What’s more, we have a complete freedom of time and location. We don’t rely on a bus schedule or check-in time, and in my eyes, time is the biggest luxury we have as human beings.

On that note, I’m going to round this weekly summary up with the highs of the week that have taken place outside of our campervan. Here are the best things we’ve seen or done on our roadie from Perth to Karijini National Park.

The ultimate highs of week one

Witnessing 20m high sea spray from the Carnarvon Blowholes 

Watching the sea spray at Carnarvon Blowholes

Standing on the edge of the rocks, waiting for writhing waves to overflow into naturally formed holes, then standing as close as possible when the sea spray erupts upwards into the air, is enough to make anyone feel like a child again.

Snorkelling Ningaloo Reef 

Playing in the water at Ningaloo Reef

You’ve almost definitely heard of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but have you heard of Ningaloo Reef? It’s part of a World Heritage Site that lies approximately 1,200 kilometres north of Perth.

Having snorkelled both of them, I can say hands down that I enjoyed Ningaloo Reef more. It’s completely accessible from the beach, with the coral beginning just 300m into the water. The coral itself is stunning, still full of colour and patterns. Plus, a dozen other boat tours and their passengers do not surround you. Oh, and I was lucky enough to swim alongside a gorgeous sea turtle.

Seeing wildlife in its natural habitat

Kangaroos at Cape Range National Park

In just this first week I have encountered kangaroos, lizards, a dozen species of fish, a sea turtle, bats, cows, sheep, wild horses, and an echidna. All of which were in their natural habitat.

Karijini National Park – just everything about it!

One of the gorges at Karijini National Park

If I could sum up Karijini National Park in one sentence, it would be like Indiana Jones meets a fairy tale land. Situated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, a mountainous area covered with green bush, the park is a vast and gorgeous landscape.

What makes Karijini National Park particularly special though, are the gorges, hidden waterfalls and natural pools that are dotted throughout. It’s the perfect place to hike, all the while feeling like you’re walking through the set of a Hollywood film.

Stop by next week, or sign up to be notified when new posts go live, and find out what living in a van has been like over the next seven days. I’ve no doubt there’ll be more van life fails, but plenty of amazing highs.

If you enjoyed this post or know somebody considering living in a van or travelling Australia, share it on social media so they can read it too!

10 Comments on “Realities Of Living In A Van: Week 1 Fails & Successes

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  5. This is definitely a dream of ours!! Great to know the negatives that come with the positives – if travelling 24/7 is a test of your relationship, travelling in a van must be even more so haha!!

  6. A four-month vanlife adventure sounds cool! Chasing clothes down the highway part was hilarious – I just hope the highway was empty at that time! Enjoy your trip Aimee!

  7. This is still a dream of mine for a couple of weeks in Australia. I will be following your adventure! Thank you for sharing

  8. Love this post! I’m campervanning the east coast of Aus atm and the weather is dreadful!!

    • Oh no! Hopefully it gets nicer for you… and for when I arrive there! Haha which direction are you headed?

  9. LOVE this! We’ve just moved back into our van, and it’s such a difference! You need to make sure everything has a proper place or else you lose your mind!
    Your photos are incredible 😍. I can’t wait to get over to WA!

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