So, you’re thinking about traveling a lot, but you still don’t have the idea what’s the best way of traveling for you? Don’t worry as there are so many ways to explore the beauty this world has to offer!
The only struggle could be where to go and how to start.
Exploring Australia in a campervan while working on different jobs to fund your trips sounds like an adventure to you?
Some people may tell it’s very difficult to travel that way, but we would strongly disagree as last week, we had a pleasure to speak with Leah, a half of traveling duo who runs Officer Travels.
Let’s head over to this inspirational interview!
Q. Hey Leah, first of all, I want to say thank you for taking your time to do this interview! So let’s start! Could you please tell us who you are and where you originally come from?
A. Hey, I’m Leah from Officer Travels. I’m a 26-year-old nature and photography enthusiast, traveling with my Partner Declan. We’re both from England!
Q. What’s your current location and how did you choose it?
A. We’re currently in Australia. Although I wanted to leave England to travel, Australia was never really on my radar until I met Dec, who’s always dreamed of moving here. The grey skies get a bit much back home, especially when you’re stuck in jobs you hate so we were craving sunshine and adventure. We took the leap after we found out about the working holiday visas and realized it would be much easier to move and travel than we thought!
Q. Is there any place in the world (different from your hometown) where you could proudly say you’re local there?
A. Haha, Some would say I’m not a local in my hometown! The older generation used to joke that you’re not truly a local until you’ve been there 30 years 😂
Apart from Melbourne where we spent most of our time whilst in Australia, I would actually say Galera in Spain. It’s a tiny rural town in the mountains of Granada that’s actually made up of cave houses! My dad owns one so we used to go a lot. I don’t speak as much Spanish as my dad and the locals don’t speak much English but we get by. It’s a great community and a really beautiful part of Spain. We hope to buy our own cave house there eventually.
Q. We saw that you had quite amazing adventures during your journey, so could you tell us how did you decide to start living that lifestyle? What was the lifestyle changing point?
A. The tipping point for us moving to Australia was being stuck in jobs we didn’t have a passion for and honestly, the weather. Dec would be at work all day, I would be at work all night. What kind of life is that? ‘A normal one’ apparently but that wasn’t what we wanted. We wanted to spend quality time with each other and have time for adventures beyond the yearly holidays whilst we were still fit and able to do so.
When we got to Australia we realized renting and staying in Hostels would eat up a huge chunk of our saving, so that’s when we bought Mo! Our little campervan. She gives us free accommodation and gets us to places we wouldn’t have seen is we were relying on public transport.
Q. Many people struggle with saving or earning enough money to fund their trip. We were always traveling on a tight budget and we know it’s possible! We’re curious how do you fund your trips and what kind of jobs you’re working on? Are you working on the road or trying to save the most of money while home?
Before the trip we sold everything. And I mean, everything. When we left our 3-bed house all we had was one box of sentimental things, the house was just a shell, it was really emotional actually. We spent 6 months selling and saving before we flew out to Melbourne.
Now we’re here we’re working on the road and building our site: we aim to open a store soon to sell our photography on products so that’s exciting!
Due to the visa regulations, we have to do so many days work in rural locations to stay another year, so we’ve done all kinds of different jobs. From planting orange trees and counting grape bunches to predict the winery harvest (yes that’s an actual job! Who even knew!!) I’ve even worked as quality control in a garlic factory, and now we’re milking cows!
Q. Could you tell us a bit more about traveling in a campervan? Is it cheaper than living in hostels/homestays and how hard is to get used to that lifestyle?
A. It’s so much cheaper!! I mean don’t get me wrong, it was a big chunk of our savings to start with. Especially to make her how we wanted her; we’ve added a fridge and solar panels since we bought the campervan. If we think of what we’ve spent, we probably would have only gotten maybe 2 or 3 months accommodation out of that money and instead, now we can stay pretty much anywhere for free, although it is easier to free camp in some states than it is in others.
We adjusted to the lifestyle quite well. We only bought a 32ltr backpack each with us, so the fact we didn’t have much space was OK – we didn’t have much stuff! The hardest part for me is showering in public showers. I can’t just get up in a morning and have a quick shower like I did back home, it requires some planning to where we park or a bit of a drove to the nearest one. When we hit Sydney we paid for a gym membership to make it a bit easier. Dec’s biggest struggle is the size of the van! At over 6ft., we probably should have bought a taller van so he can actually sit up properly in the back but we make do, it’s not like we’re in it all day.
I have to say though, Australia is very accommodating to vandwellers so if anyone is wanting to try out van life here is definitely a good place to start!
Q. You’ve sold your house and all your belongings to travel and experience the world. What was the opinion of people around you when you did it and how did you cope with that?
A. They thought we were crazy, maybe we are. As supportive as he’s been I think my dad worries about us coming home ‘to nothing’, but we will have nothing. We’ll have a lifetime of unforgettable memories and heaps more life experience we wouldn’t have gained in our tiny hometown. You never know what opportunity you might run into on the road, so we definitely don’t feel like we’ve sacrificed our future.
The best way to cope with it is to try and ease their worries but also to realize/remember they don’t think the same as you. They’ll come round eventually even if it’s whilst you’re away.
Q. We bet you had many amazing stories to share with us! Could you tell us the most positive and the most negative story you had during your travels?
A. Wow, that’s a tough one, travel comes with a lot of ups and downs but we don’t really see them as negatives!
So our ‘negative’ story is more scary than negative. We were traveling from Melbourne to Adelaide and had just crossed the border into South Australia. We knew the weather at that time in SA was a bit hit and miss, the same as Victoria but what we were greeted with was to this day the worst storm we’ve ever encountered; let alone lived in a van through!
In the day we’d had just the usual rain, nothing too out of the ordinary so we parked our van in a scenic spot by the ocean with a perfect view for sunset.
As the night drew closer the wind started to pick up and we could hear the waves getting louder, the rain heavier. We joked about the huge storms we’d seen on Youtube but as the van rocked in the wind and the rain got torrential it stopped being funny. Thankfully we had data coverage because when looked at the local weather (something we now so BEFORE we park by the sea to sleep) we realised there had been a weather warning sent out in our area for extreme weather and possible cyclone conditions, and we were slap bang in the middle of where it was predicted.
We drove for about an hour to get far enough away from it and to a spot that was away from trees but still sheltered. We didn’t get much sleep that night because of how bad the weather was outside, the wind rocked the van so much it felt like how I imagined an earthquake would feel. Our little van dealt so well with the high wind and rain though: not a single leak! In the morning we drove back to the coast and saw floods, fallen trees and lots of mess. We definitely made the right decision to move. Since then we’ve been in one other storm but we were better prepared and it was nowhere near as bad or scary! We’ve installed a couple of apps now too that notify you of extreme weather and bushfires.
My most favorite adventure and a memory I’ll never forget was when we visited the pink lakes in Victoria. Again we were doing farm work, so we were roughly 6 hours away from Melbourne about ready to tear our hair out with boredom when someone mentioned these lakes 2 hours away. We’d visited a pink lake in Melbourne but it was more of a muddy purple so we went with low expectations and were just grateful for the time off and a change of scenery.
We packed up a picnic and headed off 2 hours even further into the bush. I’ll never forget the moment we first saw them! We were driving down this dirt track when I got a tiny glimpse of this bright pink sparkling water. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Water with bright pink and purple hues to it, and the ‘sand’ around it crisp white. Sand that wasn’t sand, but salt.
What made this a true memory of a lifetime was that although the water looked incredibly deep, it wasn’t. We were able to walk right out into the middle of this lake, nobody else around but us and the tranquillity of the water. It was the peaceful break we needed and probably the most unique experience we’ll ever have in Australia.
Q. For how long do you plan to travel around the world and stick to this lifestyle?
A. Who knows! We definitely don’t plan on returning back to England straight after our Australia visas run out. We know we want to ‘settle’ at some point with kids on the cards but when? Where? We don’t know and that’s the magic of travel! All the while we can, we will.
Q. Have your experiences changed the perspectives you have on money, opportunities, relationships or just the world in general? Could you talk a bit about this?
A. Definitely! I think it’s impossible for your perspectives not to change!
As cliche as it sounds, with money, we have a whole new priority list on how we spend it. We would rather spend money on experiences than new clothes/shoes etc. In years to come I’ll always remember the pink lakes, but will I remember what I was wearing or how I had my hair? Probably not.
Your opportunities are truly endless, not only with travel but in general. 5 years ago we would never have had thought we would be where we are today but we wanted it enough in the end that we made it happen. If you open yourself up to the idea that anything is possible and believe it, you’ll be amazed at what doors appear.
Q. What’s your genuine advice for people who’d like to start traveling like you?
A. Firstly, let go of the doubts and fear. Before we set off I was full of it, had I have held onto it we would still be in England dreaming. It’s all about believing in yourself and what you’re capable of.
If a big, year-long trip sounds too scary, start small and build on it. It’s ok if your plans change while on the road! At least you can say you did it, rather than you just dreamed it. My favorite quote at the moment is ‘don’t call it a dream, call it a plan’… and that’s what we’re living from.
Q. Last but not least, what are your plans for the future?
A. Truly, we don’t know beyond the next year. Short term, we have big plans for the blog and a trip to Bali planned where we’re hoping to discover some hidden gems off the beaten track. We’re planning a big road trip up the East Coast to Cairns in June, then a trip from Cairns to Australia’s red center so that will be really exciting! After Australia, we’re looking at New Zealand or maybe Canada. Asia’s on the list too, but so is the rest of the world! Haha, we really don’t know and it changes regularly.
We wish you great experiences and expect to hear more stories from the road!