With many travellers forgoing tents and swags for the van life, the community is growing every day. We recently had a chat to Maddi from She Who Explores on why she chose the van life and some of her tips and tricks to getting into the movement.
Who are you?
I’m Maddi, also known as She Who Explores, an adventure enthusiast travelling Australia solo and encouraging everyone to get out and explore our beautiful country. My love for travel grew whilst I was living and working overseas during my professional dance career. I had never travelled or lived out of home and whilst there were many tears on the journey and I was completely out of my comfort zone, I loved every minute of it. My love for nature and hiking began when we sailed through Alaska and I did my first ‘hike’ up the Mount Roberts tramway track in Juneau.
What made you decide to live and travel in a van?
I have been doing many camping trips over the past few years and a tent just wasn’t cutting it. I thought van life would be ideal to keep cosy on the wet days as well as have enough power on board to keep me connected when I’m off-grid. Being in nature and stepping out of my comfort zone made me decide to start a van build so I could spend as much time in nature as possible.
Why did you choose van life over other forms of travel?
This was a tough decision for me as I was tossing up between the roof top camper life or van life. I’m glad I went with the van, I think it’s more comfortable to be on the road fulltime in, more space and a cosy place to escape the rain.
Tell us about your van?
My van, named Tilly, is a high-top Volkswagen Transporter and I purchased her second hand. She belonged to a tobacco shipping company prior to bring mine (don’t worry she doesn’t smell like tobacco). She is a mid-wheelbase and with the high roof I’m able to stand up with no issues. I have a small kitchenette and a queen size bed inside as well as a REDARC 12v power system and space for all my adventure gear - dive gear, surf boards, fishing rods and hiking/camping equipment. It’s amazing how much she fits!
When building your van, how did you decide what to include?
I did a lot of research and sketched about 10,000 different options. I think I was getting carried away at first by including lots of features and realised I just need to follow the K.I.S.S. rule - keep it simple stupid! I knew I wanted space for all my adventure gear, so I needed storage in lots of places. I also knew I wanted a fixed bed. I’ve had layouts in the past where I had to build or make my bed up every night and it was just so annoying on the occasions when I just wanted to jump into bed straight away.
Is there anything you would change in your van?
I wish I went bigger for more space and I would love some roof top storage space or a deck.
What are the top three things you can’t live in the van without?
A 12v fridge, enough roof height to stand in and fly screen nets (they are a game changer).
What has been your favourite trip so far?
I’m yet to do a trip in Tilly when she’s fully completed, so I’m very much looking forward to that. I did a Snowy Mountains trip recently and I was so lucky to have a van whilst everyone else was in tents. I was so cosy and warm!
What would be your advice for someone wanting to get into the van lifestyle?
Go for it! It’s such a great way to travel. With car and accommodation in one, you can’t go wrong!
What’s the best thing about vanlife?
Being able to pull up literally anywhere. You’ve got a home on wheels, and you’re not restricted by how far you can go because you’ve got everything with you. I love the relaxed vibe of van life. The slow lane life, reminding us all to take a step back and enjoy what’s around in front of us.
What’s next for you?
When she’s finished, I will be renting Tilly out through an online hire system called Camplify and hopefully venturing into the 4x4 build life (so that I have both travel options), so stay tuned if you’d like to take Tilly away for a few nights.