Vanlife in Australia with Ella and Ryan

Tell me a bit about yourselves?

We are Ryan and Ella, an Aussie/Kiwi couple currently travelling around Australia. We met in Poland in 2019 when we were both solo backpacking, and after being separated through COVID lockdowns, we now are doing vanlife! 

Where did you catch the travel bug?

I (Ryan) got it from my dad, who was a pilot, so I was very lucky that I was able to travel from such a young age through going on his trips. Ella went to Bali in 2018 and fell in love with the idea of immersing herself in a completely new culture and way of life, so she decided to embark on a 6 month trip across South East Asia and Europe and has been travelling ever since!

How long have you been travelling for? 

We’ve been on the road since Feb of 2021, so 1 and a half years travelling Australia in the van! We both started long-term travel back in 2019. 

What attracted you to van life?

Really, it was our backup option! Our original plan was to go backpacking through Asia, but due to border closures, we decided to make the most of it and do vanlife! We always loved the freedom that comes from it and the ability to wake up where you choose. 

Which one of you has the idea, and who makes the plans?

We both have plenty of ideas, but Ella will usually make somewhat of a rough plan. We’re very go-with-the-flow people so planning ahead isn’t really a big thing to us. We usually decide where to go once we wake up; one of the many bonuses to this flexible lifestyle.

How do you afford to travel? 

We mainly rely on our savings for the most part, but we do pick up odd jobs here and there, and that’s enabled us to keep going on the road. We also make a small income through photography and social media.

Where are you at the moment?

Currently in Seymour! Just north of Melbourne, in the high country. 

What visa do you have? 

Luckily for us, we don’t need visas at the moment due to the relationship between Australia and New Zealand. 

What is the worst piece of travel advice you’ve been given?

“There’s no such thing as overpacking”. Yes. In fact, there is. Lugging around more than you need in a small space is just the worst. We have all sorts in the van that has never been touched! Basketballs, tennis rackets, and an infinite amount of gym gear. Always remember that you can buy things that you need as you go!

What is one thing you wish you’d known before you started Vanlife?

It’s not the romanticised lifestyle that social media portrays it to be. Most of the time we’re sleeping on a random side street, using cold showers in the middle of winter, breaking down and struggling to find a toilet at any time of day (or night). We absolutely love it, but it’s not for everyone.

What is one thing you will never travel without?

For me (Ryan), it’s a good pair of headphones, a puffer jacket (also doubles as a great pillow when needed) and my camera bag. For Ella, it would be a portable charger and dry shampoo – a lifesaver. 

Any fun travel anecdotes you want to share?
About a week or so into starting vanlife, we found a little gem of a waterfall after about 45 minutes of hiking and rock scrambling. We had an absolute blast swimming until Ella decided to climb up this ledge to jump off of (she hates jumping off anything so it was already a good start). After seeing the shallow rocks below in the water, which she would have to jump past, she wanted to back out. However, to my absolute disbelief, she didn’t do this, she jumped, and landed on the shallow rocks. 

After lots of tears, screams of pain, and the thought that it was a couple of broken toes (as well as the decision that she didn’t want me to call a rescue team in), this turned our 45 min walk to the van into a 2 and half hour journey. This was all while trying to beat the sun going down and an incoming storm, all with me carrying her on my back the whole way, which was more than what I bargained for at the start of the walk. Looking back at it now, it’s pretty funny, but at the time, neither of us thought so. 

You can follow Ella and Ryan on their travels through their Instagram page @_lapofthemap


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