The passion for surfing and camping brought Jess and Jonny together 17 years ago. They fell in love as teenagers and as young adults they married. For some years, the Australian couple worked full-time. Then they decided to escape their daily routine. First they went on trips in a Mercedes-Benz Vito. At the beginning of 2015, Jess and Jonny bought a Sprinter. Since then, the couple from Down Under has lived and worked in their van – without a permanent residence: as van nomads.
MYVAN: Why did you leave your normal life behind you and move into a van?
Jonny: “We did the fairly normal routine of full time work and annual holidays for seven years. Over the last four years we were struggling with stress, anxiety and the expectations of normal society. So we decided we wanted more out of life than the standard work vs life balance.”
MYVAN: So you bought a Sprinter?
Jonny: “Yeah, we started doing adventures on weekends and school holidays. We are both part time high school teachers. We loved it so much that we decided over the last couple of years to live full-time in the van. Jess loves her long distance hiking and I am a musician who travels around Australia. We share other passions such as surfing, snowboarding, exploring new places, connecting with like-minded communities and just being in nature!”
MYVAN: What is so great about living in a van?
Jess: “It’s the best feeling to wake up in a forest or at the beach, next to the ocean or a stream and listen to the wildlife or take a swim. It’s very peaceful and our favorite way to travel. But our lives would not be complete without some of our other passions: surfing, skating, books, film, music and meeting new creative and inspirational people. All of which we want to share through this website, Facebook, Instagram, and Vimeo clips. So far we have spent 13 years together making memories. In that time we have both suffered heart ache, pain and loss. We have also experienced happiness, joy and a whole lot of love. In all of these moments, parts of ourselves have been shaped, forming who we are today. We don’t want to have any regrets, we want to make the most of every day. We are just a couple of kids trying to live our dreams.”
It’s the best feeling to wake up in a forest or at the beach
At the beginning of 2015 Jess and Jonny founded the travel blog “Rebel on a Rainbow”, on which they report about life in the van. Rainbow is the name they have given their Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. With “ROAR” they also offer other van travelers a platform to tell their own travel stories. Together with a few friends, the two Australians have also launched the blog “Vanlife”, which on Instagram alone now reaches almost 350,000 people.
MYVAN: Camper van culture is huge in Australia. Why is that?
Jess: “There is such a growing van culture in Australia and it’s really exciting! We have an amazing coastline with beautiful little towns and isolated beaches. Then if you go inland you’ll find a lot of opportunities to camp and explore as well. There are definitely groups of people that do road trips together in their vans and love exploring roads they haven’t taken before.”
MYVAN: The Vanlifediaries project has grown really fast! Can you tell us more about it?
Jonny: “It has been such an exciting movement and project. Three mates Sam, Jared and I got together in February 2015 and brainstormed about how to connect and interact with the international van community. The result: Vanlife.
Through their blog, the people of “Vanlife” organize various events where van travelers can meet, barbecue and exchange ideas. They also cooperate with brands and organizations that share the lifestyle and attitude of “Vanlife”. And, of course, you can find plenty of reading material, photos and tips on life and traveling in a van on the blog. Jonny is mainly concerned with marketing issues and social networks. He also plays saxophone in different bands and regularly toured all around Australia with his own band “Dusty Boots”.
MYVAN: Which itinerary would you recommend to foreigners renting a camper van in Australia?
Jess: “Starting on the East Coast like Byron Bay and driving all the way around Australia for 6 months to a year would be the most amazing trip. Also getting inland to see our desert and remote areas.”
MYVAN: Can you share with us a great beach to park the van and surf?
Jess: “We love the South Coast of NSW, there are so many beach towns which are really remote. You should also look for National Parks on the coast or in the mountains, they are our favorites. And finally the bottom of Western Australia is amazing with a lot of free camping.”
MYVAN: Lastly, with your hand on your heart, is there anything you don’t like about Vanlife?
Jess: “The lack of space sometimes, however the outdoors is our home. Also getting laundry done and hanging out our clothes! Sometimes the small space gets a bit chaotic when Jonny is messy with all his music gear ha-ha!”