Rise with the sun (usually. Sometimes we sleep in.)

Pee somewhere close by—sometimes in a toilet, sometimes behind a bush.

Set up the kitchen. This means unpacking the gas cooker from underneath the bed, connecting it to the propane tank, unpacking any pots, pans, cooking utensils, cutting board, etc. needed for that morning’s breakfast. This is all set up on the LandCruiser’s tailgate or on a park picnic table if we were lucky enough to sleep near one the night before.

Make breakfast! At first we were ambitious and would cook breakfast potatoes and eggs (neither of us eats meat), but after a while we learned it was easier to just boil water and eat oatmeal.

Pack everything up and rearrange the truck. At night we pack everything we can onto the front seats to make room for sleeping in the back—we got really good at this game of Tetris, if I may take a moment to brag. The air mattress is blown up and we go to sleep. In the morning, we deflate the mattress and everything moves back on top of the wooden bed frame.

*something to note: most backpackers purchase a van to travel in as they provide a lot more storage space and make less work setting up/tearing down the vehicle for eating and sleeping. We chose the LandCruiser as a more capable vehicle for off-roading and beach driving, as well as to open up the market for when we decide to re-sell it.

Drive to the next destination. Sometimes we have a planned town or city to arrive in that day, sometimes we just know we want to drive three or four hours in one direction towards a town or city we’ll arrive in a few days from now. We stop when we need to pee or eat, usually in a public park or beach where there is space to cook.
We listened to the radio for the first half of the trip which meant hours of singing to ourselves when we were in no-reception zones. FUN. After that nearly killed us, we burned CDs that we rotated through daily.

Sometimes I read aloud to Vince. We’re cute like that.

Because we arrived in winter and did most of our road-tripping during this season, days were quite short and the sun would start to go down around 5 o’clock each day. Many days we would arrive at a WikiCamp after the sun had gone down. We used flashlights to light up our tailgate kitchen as we cooked and often ate standing, sitting in the front seat, or on the roof of the truck (because we were too stubborn to pay for a set of camp chairs or table). Most meals were rice or pasta with canned beans, lentils and tomatoes—check out our post about how we managed to eat cheap, but not cheap out on ours meals while on the road. When we were low on supplies, dinner consisted of egg noodles and hot sauce. You deal.

After dinner, if there was potable water nearby we washed up the dishes. Yes, washing dishes sometimes happened in bathroom sinks (which are TINY, by the way); sometimes with a wash basin by a ground tap. No, the water was never hot. Did we care? Honestly, after a while, “washing the dishes” meant wiping them off with water and paper towel.

Once the dishes were done, we packed everything away in the front the same as the night before. We’d blow up the air mattress—by mouth. Okay, Vince was more often the one doing this, but we chose this method because it was so much quicker and quieter than using the pump. Sometimes we were too tired/lazy to blow up the mattress, and just laid on the board instead. Some nights (when we could), we’d watch an episode of a TV show on the tablet. Most nights, we’d just fall asleep.

*another thing to note: this is just how WE did things. And it took us a few weeks to get even this routine down, so most likely there are other ways of traveling out of your vehicle. Most backpackers we met had generally the same experience, but in total we only spent three months truly on the road so others who have lived longer in this way probably have a more efficient/organized process.

With our shared body heat, even nights that dropped close to 0 degrees Celsius weren’t too cold. When we reached the south of Australia, we bought sleeping bags to supplement the comforter that kept us warm in the northern states (for northern hemisphere folks, remember everything is “BACKWARDS” in Australia! South is colder, winter is in January. It’s weird).

SHOWERING. Yeah. If we were lucky, we would find a Wikicamp or public restroom with a shower. Very rarely (if ever?) did they have hot water… which makes sense because they are public and it’s hot here. On warmer days, showering at the beach was the best we could do (yes, where you normally just “rinse off” the salt water? We were the ones soaping up and making things awkward). Sometimes when we were desperate, we paid to have hot showers (the most was $1 a minute for five minutes maximum—fastest showers you’ve ever seen!). A lot of times, we went a day or two (sometimes more) without a shower of any kind…

And this, my friends, is how you see what each other is really made of!

Lastly, it’s also worth noting that it’s kind of a pain to get out of the truck at night to pee, so we both got really good at holding it until morning. Not sure how good that is for you, but what the hell, right?

Cue the sun, and do it all over again!

One thought on “How To: Live Like a Backpacker (i.e. out of a vehicle)

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