Travelling in a foreign country for three months can be quite the adventure, but it can also prove to be an occasional challenge! Besides the obvious essentials, (like cash, a vehicle and food) these are the things that helped us along our journey and made our road trip more comfortable and a lot more enjoyable!
1. Anytime Fitness Membership
When Mitch and myself first started travelling in a van four years ago, we both possessed gym memberships at Anytime Fitness. We later came to realize this was the perfect accompaniment to travelling in a van!
Being a 24-hour gym suited our spontaneous and unstructured lifestyle and having access to any franchise across Australia (and several more countries across
the globe) meant our nomadic need to travel was not an issue.
We could not think of a more suitable way to stay fit travelling whilst also enabling us to remain clean and hygienic.
Throughout our four years living on the road we have been to more than 45 gym locations scattered across six separate states in Australia.
Our most recent trip in America was no different. With Anytime Fitness branches across the states we were able to stay clean along the coast, in the big cities and in the dusty hot desert. There was no need to freeze our memberships – in fact we used them just as often, a cold shower when it was hot, a hot shower when it was cold and a long workout when we were feeling sluggish and lazy.
2. Dometic Fridge
I have never been a massive fan of coolers – having a fridge in our Australian van; I never thought one could become irritating so quickly. Travelling cross-country in mid summer, we spent a huge chunk of our trip in extreme hot weather – and this largely affected our ability to keep food cold, even fresh. Ice was replaced sometimes as often as twice a day – as well as being pretty expensive it was a huge inconvenience. Most days we were far from towns and even further from a shop freezer full of ice, on those days we had to sacrifice our milk and farewell our cold refreshing beverages.
On days our cooler was able to keep up with the weather, the maintenance itself was a nightmare. Finding a store that sells ice, emptying out the water, cleaning the inside, packing it with new ice – and then worrying when you might need to repeat the whole process again!
What drew the line for us was the condition of our food in the cooler – drowning and soaking in melting ice is not the way I prefer my cream cheese, butter or other dairy products. Everything was wet, constantly. Food didn’t last half as long and the upkeep was demanding. And then came our Dometic, a Godsend after spending two months wasting money and time stressing everyday. We only wish we had it sooner! Running off our second battery it worked like a dream!
I would highly recommend buying a fridge from the get go. If you’re wondering if it’s worth the extra cash I can guarantee there is nothing worth spending your money on more! And, it’s better to design your interiors around the size and usability of your fridge – there’s nothing worse than having to redecorate because your furniture wasn’t designed to appropriately fit your Dometic!
3. Stereo System
Driving through the mid-west for days on end, sometimes as long as 5-6 hours meant we spent a lot of time in the front seats of the van. This suddenly dawned on us when we were stuck with awful choices for radio stations on the first week of travelling.
A quick stop to the closest Best Buy store, a couple of hours and spare parts later and we had ourselves a brand new Kennwood Bluetooth stereo system!
To pass the time and make it a whole lot more enjoyable, Spotify and good podcasts go a long way!
This may seem an obvious choice, but when you’re living on the road you don’t just want your van to be comfortable and homey when you setting up camp, but also when you are on the move - travelling from place to place.
If you plan to do a lot of driving on your travels, I would highly recommend purchasing yourself a good Head Unit – it will make those long stretches of road a lot more bearable!
4. HP Sprocket Printer
You may have seen this gadget featured throughout many images on our US trip, and with good reason – this small portable printer was the perfect way to document our travels!
Portable and simple – just like Mitch and myself, this was one tool we used quite often. As we are always on the move we prefer to keep our possessions to a minimum, only carrying the bare essentials and those that are light and easy to maintain. The Sprocket is both, and the battery life on this guy is crazy – we only had to charge it every couple of weeks and all it requires for this is a micro USB port, so no bulky cords or wiring.
Every photo and memory we printed we were able to select ourselves, any moment we desired, which means we weren’t wasting paper and prints on photos we didn’t already love.
To select your desired photo you can use the HP Sprocket app on your phone, (which is free) and from there you can access your camera roll, click the image you prefer – and then press print, it’s as easy as that. No ink required.
Also, as the prints are self-adhesive, you don’t even have to worry about buying tape - they can go straight up on your wall.
It’s one thing to capture a memory on a camera or a phone and look at it on a screen – but printing them out so you can share them with friends, or just to stick them on your walls as a reminder of those special times – is something else. It’s the best way to relive your memories!
Not to sound like a cliché, but without the help and support from over 100 thousand of you, travelling a country or even an area you yourself are not familiar with can be quite stressful! I can’t thank you all enough for your advice, suggestions and must-dos – our trip around the US would have been near impossible without them.
It really does help to ask the residents – it’s a great way to step away from the overcrowded spots and see a region from the eyes of the locals, and it’s a great way to make some awesome friends along the way! So a big THANK YOU to all of you for your constant encouragement and great ideas of places to see and go to!!