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19 Things To Know Before Driving Around Australia In A Van

The great Aussie road trip is just one of those things you have to do.

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Australia is a really, really big country. You could drive around for a year and not even come close to seeing all the amazing things it's got to offer. That's why so many people are choosing to explore the country on a super-long road trip.

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But what's it actually like driving around Australia in a van? We chatted to some people who are currently doing just that, to pick their brains on the epic Aussie road trip.

Elise and Dom are a married couple who have been driving around Australia for the last eight months after selling all their stuff and moving into their van, Scout.

Lara is a solo female traveller, driving a loop from Perth, up through the Kimberley, and down through Alice Springs and Adelaide.

Here's what we learned from them:

1. Think about seasons before you plan a route.

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The northernmost parts of the country are pretty inaccessible during November-March because of extreme heat and the wet season. Stick to the south and the middle of Australia in summer, and hit up the northern parts in winter.

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2. You might spend up to $100 a day on fuel.

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Obviously it depends how far you're driving each day. But if you're doing long stretches in a day, it's going to add up so make sure you budget accordingly.

"Sometimes you might base yourself somewhere for a week or two and spend nothing," says Elise.

3. But you can save on accomodation.

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“I managed to go the whole way up the west coast without paying for accommodation, just using free campsites," said Lara. "The cost was really only fuel and food."

4. Check out Wikicamps for more info on free sites.

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If you want to know where to park your van or pitch a tent, this is your one-stop shop. Choose an area, and it'll show you free camping areas, backpacker hostels, national park campsites, caravan parks, and information centres. It works even when you don't have phone reception.

5. Speaking of which, get used to having no service on your phone!

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As long as you plan ahead, it can be so damn relaxing to be disconnected. "We found ourselves experiencing this sensation of unplugging and slowing down in a way neither of us had ever truly felt," says Elise.

6. Take a camp stove.

Instagram: @lah_rah

“I'm not spending much on food – a $60 grocery haul will last about three weeks," says Lara. "It's mostly beans, vegetables, pasta, and soups. Mi Goreng is always a good cheap option, though mainly I'm snacking throughout the day while driving rather than eating actual whole meals.”

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7. The easiest meals to make are meat-free ones.

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"We eat a lot of veggies," say Elise and Dom. "Veggie curries, veggie stir fries, veggie pastas… that kind of thing. Recipes that only use a couple of ingredients. Instead of rice we use beans or chopped cauliflower, and instead of pasta we use zucchini. We eat meat about once a fortnight, but it’s just a lot easier cooking without meat on the road."

8. Yes, you can travel as a solo girl.

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“Everyone’s mentioned Wolf Creek which really put doubts in my mind," said Lara. "But the freedom of doing it by myself is amazing. You've just got to trust your instincts and be aware."

9. Constantly ask people about the best places to go.

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You can plan all you want but some of the best spots you'll only hear about from locals. "Whenever I get somewhere new, I check out the information centre. And if I meet anyone on the road, I ask them where to go,” says Lara.

10. And talk to everyone you meet.

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"Our favourite places haven’t been just about the land and the place though, they always end up being connected to great people," say Elise and Dom. "In The Kimberley, we had local legend Scotty welcome us into his home (an air conditioned bedroom was an absolute luxury for us) and we had a week with him showing us his favourite Kimberley secrets. It was unbelievable."

11. A lot of the really beautiful, pure, pristine stuff is off the beaten track.

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"You have to trek a bit" to get those Insta-worthy views to wake up to, says Lara. "But it's definitely worth it."

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12. You should seriously consider getting a 4WD van.

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"If you don’t have a 4WD it can be harder to access everything."

13. Seriously, preparation is key.

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There's no such thing as being over-prepared. "Read about what other people have done to prep their van and what they’ve taken, that’ll definitely help," says Lara.

14. Think about the little things.

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"If you’re going by yourself, take a selfie stick," says Lara. "A drone would be amazing. Oh, and a mosquito net to hang over the van. That way you can keep the back door open if it's hot."

15. Take your time, if you can.

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"This is the beauty of travelling slowly without an agenda, you can stop for as little or as long as you like," says Elise. "We’ve often thought we’d spend a night or two in a place, and wound up not moving for a week. We’ll stop for a night, or a week, or a month, depending on what the experience requires. Again, this comes down to connecting with the land, and connecting with people."

16. You can't skip the north of Western Australia.

Instagram: @elisecook

"There is something about that land," says Elise. "So untouched, so raw, and so beautiful. We were constantly in a state of surprise and awe. To be moving through barren desert and then find yourself at a waterfall surrounded by a palm tree oasis, without another soul in sight… it’s pretty spectacular. I also didn’t really have a perception of just how huge it is. That is, until we were driving across it under the pulsing Outback sun with no air conditioning."

17. Don't underestimate using Instagram to find places to visit.

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"I love looking at photos on Instagram of a geo-tag to get a feel of what other people are seeing in a certain place too," says Elise.

18. It's not as hard to find a shower as you might think.

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"Most towns have a free cold shower somewhere – this is a lot easier in warm weather!" says Elise. "I’ve also learnt to not care if I have to wash my hair or shave my legs in my bathers at the beach while someone’s giving me a weird look. Once a week we’ll pay for a hot shower at a caravan park and also do all our laundry. It works great!"

19. And it's one of the best things you will ever do – everyone should try it at least once.

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"This country is incredible, and there’s so much to see, experience, and learn from. Whether you have one month or one year, you’ll love every second."

I met and interviewed Lara while travelling in Western Australia with Tourism Australia. BuzzFeed writers do not guarantee coverage.

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