When you scroll through all the ‘van life’ travel photos that inundate Instagram you can’t help but dream of your own exotic adventure. But behind all the glamorous photos is the reality of figuring out how to afford living on the road.
Elise Cook, 27, and her husband Domenic Palumbo, 30, have been travelling around in their VW Kombi Scout for over a year, and now they have revealed how they have made it financially viable.
The fact that we are constantly moving and in new places, and constantly wanting to explore and experience each new place, has meant that we’ve had to come up with ways to manage our spending.
Elise said that if you’re driving around any country, fuel and car maintenance will be your number one expense.
‘Avoid having to fill the tank in small towns, as the cost of fuel is always slightly higher,’ she said.
The travel blogger also recommended getting top cover roadside assistance as they will be your ‘best friend’ if anything goes wrong, which is bound to happen if you’re on the road for a long period of time.
Chat to Locals and Other Travellers on the Road
Elise said it is important for people to make sure they are friendly and open to chatting with people they meet while stopping in country towns.
They have also been pointed in the direction of beautiful campgrounds and have been given warnings or cautions from other travellers.
Camp As Much As Possible
Elise said that as well as having the benefit of being able to be amongst nature, camping is also an affordable accommodation option when travelling.
The couple revealed that they use an app to help them find their next campground.
WHEN TRAVELLING ABROAD
If People Choose to Use a Credit Card
Elise and Domenic treat their spending overseas the same as if they were in Australia and they make sure they only spend what they have in their designated spending account.
The one small difference is that they choose to clear the credit card at the end of the month, instead of weekly, as she said it keeps them accountable to a certain set amount trip.
We choose to use a credit card primarily to benefit from reward points, and travel insurance
She said that travelling with a credit card also means that you don’t have to withdraw cash in another country or go to a money exchange place and have to deal with high commission rates.
Elise recommends that people do their research as to what the best deal is and find a card that has the best fees and charges for the destination people are going to.
However, we treat our credit card spending as if we are operating with a debit card, imagining that it is pulling straight from our spending account, and only spending what that account holds.
For Those Who Want to Use a Traveller Card
Elise said the benefit of using a travel card is it is easier setting and sticking to a budget.
These cards also often allow people to load the currency of the country they’re going to, meaning they don’t have to worry about exchange rates per purchase.
TIPS FOR ALL OVERSEAS TRAVEL
Use One Card for All Spending and Avoid Using Cash
‘We avoid using cash and do all of our spending on one card. This is so that we can look back and account for our spending,’ she said.
How does Elise research a location?
Elise recommends that people Google the destination they plan on going to and read personal blogs about the location as they will normally provide their honest opinion.
She suggested avoiding reading blogs by brands or travel companies as there is usually a hidden agenda.
Elise uses Instagram and will look at the most recent photos for a location geotag, whether it’s a specific place or a whole region, to get a feel for spots that appeal to them so they can find the hidden gems that a google search wouldn’t turn up.
The couple love using satellite maps and looking at the area they are in to find secret locations.
Avoid Tours and Tourist Traps
The couple revealed that they like to travel spontaneously and make most of their plans a day or two in advance, no matter where they are.
We are big believers that it is always better experiencing a place in the most authentic way possible, which usually means not being surrounding by big groups of people,’ the eager traveller said.
‘In most cases, some quick research can lead you on far more rewarding adventures and save you a whole lot of money.’
Make Your Own Food
As the couple are very health conscious and want to keep track of what they put in their bodies they cook their own meals for the majority of the time they’re travelling.
It is also a lot more cost effective, so they save eating out for special occasions or when there is a particular cafe or restaurant they want to experience.
If people plan on spending the whole day exploring, the couple recommend they carry snacks with them.
Elise likes to have a banana and a jar of natural peanut butter at hand and Domenic is a fan of taking a carrot and hummus with him.