Can you quit work and travel full time? Cambo Jones tells us how
It has always been something on my mind, ever since I can remember. I have always wanted to take a good amount of time and see as much of Australia as possible. When I was a kid, every school holiday’s our family went on camping trips, and so I grew up comfortable with camping and Australian travel.
Prior to starting this trip, I had been working in a job for 2 years, on contract basis. The contract was coming to an end, and up for renewal. I seriously considered not applying for my role again, because this trip was on my mind, but thought the sensible thing to do, was to apply again and see how I go and continue being sensible with my money, saving for a house.
As the events unfolded, I became less excited for the job and more excited for the trip, and so it ended up that someone else got the position. This was the best thing for me. It was the final "Go on your adventure" moment because I now had nothing holding me back. So, the money that was going to a house has just taken a little dent to fund this trip for the year, or longer if I still have room in the budget I have set aside.
I wanted to make sure I could get to most places, and so I made sure I had a diesel 4WD. I bought a Holden Colorado 3.0L TD 4WD Ute that I had to get ready for travel. Overall, I didn't need to add too much to the ute, as those vehicles are capable enough to get you to most places.
The things I had to add to the vehicle are:
1) Snorkel - Don't want to be restricted when it comes to water, especially when I get up North later in the year
2) Bull Bar - Obviously for protection, in case you hit wildlife, but also handy for bolting extra things to as well
3) Spotlights – Cheap, but more than capable LED spotties do the trick for spotting the wildlife at night, or just making it easier to see the bends in the road etc.
4) CB radio - Ideal, especially if you need to chat to some of the truck drivers along the way, or if you're ever in some strife, can make a call and see if anyone is around.
5) Water tank - I have a 30L water tank at the back of the Ute, with a tap that comes out the side of the tray. Super handy for quick access.
6) Modified Fuel Tank - I now can carry more than 130 L of fuel in the one main tank. This is ideal, especially in remote areas, but also, it helps you save money because you can pick and choose where you fill up.
7) Fridge/ Freezer - I only use it as a Fridge, but it is so handy to store your food, and keep your water cold if you're in the heat.
8) Second battery - to power the fridge, rather than draining the main car battery, and to charge up my devices
9) Solar Panel (Blanket) - If I am in one spot for a while and not driving the car for more than a day (because the main battery charges the secondary battery when driving) then the solar panel is perfect for keeping the second battery comfortably running
10) Pure Sine wave Inverter - Runs from the second battery and is the easiest way to keep your phone and cameras charged. Some people even run coffee machines from these inverters
11) Roof Top Tent - Have to sleep somewhere and this is quick and easy to set up, but because my toolboxes at the back of the Ute are lower than the roof of the car, when I bolted the Root Top Tent to the toolboxes, it became level with the Roof of the car, which means it isn't creating much extra air drag, and therefore, not costing me as much fuel as it could if I had bolted it to the Roof Racks
12) Functional (lockable) Toolboxes - I am thinking of adding some more drawers to this Ute as well, just to make it even more practical.
Cambo's Ute set up
After that it was a matter of purchasing the right maps, so I knew where all the free camps were, and where all the good sights to see are. I ensured that my mail was still going to get to me while I am on the road and then I just packed up and headed off!
I love how the biggest problem I face (if I service my car, eat well and stay healthy), is picking whether to turn left or right. There is just so much to see, and I think I'll enjoy the ride no matter what I direction I go in. Time is also harder to get when you're working or in a family, so now is the perfect opportunity to just slow down and enjoy it as much as possible.
I think to stop trips like this being expensive, you must choose how to spend your money. I'm spending a lot on fuel, but I haven't spent anything on accommodation as I am staying in Free Campsites. I have driven over, 14,000km in 3 months, so fuel is adding up. However, I do have a few tips on how to keep costs down.
1) Make as many of your own meals yourself by buying at the supermarket rather than eating out often.
2) Make the investment early to set up your vehicle so you can be self-contained. Then pick free campsites as often as possible. Over time, you'll break even and then start ultimately saving because of it.
3) Do the math regarding how much fuel it'll cost to go to the closest free camp and work out if it will just be cheaper to go to a local caravan park and cough up the $30+ per night. If you have an economical vehicle, rarely would the caravan park be the cheaper option.
4) Work out what you really want to see and do as far as attractions and tours go and save the extra money for that. The $10 you save every night by making your own meals instead of eating out, can go to an awesome experience somewhere around the country.
Planning your trip is essential to make the most of it. Are you going to just stay in one state and do it as much as possible? Then find absolutely everything there is to see and try not to miss anything. Are you driving all over and needing to pick out the top things to see, understanding that you'll miss out on so much along the way? Then do some trial and error to start off with. See different kinds of things and work out what you really enjoy and appreciate.
I had no idea, but I now really love Silo Art for example. So now, I pick out the spots I want to go to, for the beaches, waterfalls, gorges and such, but work out where all the Silo Art is along the way and adapt my route to see those as well. Other people love the "Big Things" to get photos of, such as the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. If that is your thing, then find out where they are along the way of your route and have your smoko break when you pull up to those spots.
My current plan is to head to Alice Springs and surrounds, before heading up to Darwin and Kakadu, across the Kimberly and back down through to QLD, working my way back around to Perth through to regional NSW.
So far in my travels, it has been hard to pick a favourite spot. We are so spoilt for choice in Australia. I love Exmouth and surrounds in WA, and the beaches around Albany, Denmark and Esperance are incredible! Mount Buffalo in Vic was incredible too. Unlike anything I have really seen living in WA.
I just want to see Australia RAW. I'm not fussed about the cities too much, because I can fly over in 2 days later in life and suss them out. I just want to see and experience the space and freedom of Australia. I can't wait to spend a good length of time in the Kimberly. That area just seems like the perfect place to get lost in freedom!
Elephant Rocks, Denmark, WA