Our story and why we decided to travel

For those following us on YouTube or Instagram, you know that we left Sydney in early 2022 for a one-and-a-half-year trip around Australia in our self-converted van with our two cats, Gatinha and Jon Snow.

We had yet to talk about this subject here on the blog, so today is the day to sit down and write about our story and why we decided to leave our jobs to travel.

Wade and Dani

Our story starts when I (Dani) arrived in Australia, from Brazil, in November 2013 to spend six months in the country getting fluent in English and spending some quality time with my brother and my 6-month-old nephew, River.

After about four months in Australia, I realised I didn’t want to leave the country, so I applied for a two-year student visa through a Masters in Accounting. At about the same time, I decided to join Tinder after hearing good things about the app from my friends. It was an excellent way to practice English, make friends, meet friendly people and, who knows, find love. And that’s precisely what happened.

Wade was one of the first guys I matched with on Tinder and the one I connected the most with. We chatted for three months through the app before he finally invited me out (I had heard Australians were a lot slower than Brazilians when it came to making a move, but I was about to give up on him when he finally invited me out).

Our first date was at Dee Why Beach, where I lived at the time. We bought ice cream and sat at the beach to chat. We chatted for hours, and it was easy to notice we had many common interests (especially travel). Having so much in common brought us together quickly, and after that date, we didn’t stop talking and meeting.

One day, Wade invited me to go camping with a group of his friends. I had never camped in my life and said yes to spending two nights in the bush with people I didn’t know, sleeping in a swag with a guy I didn’t really know, without a shower or a toilet. The camping weekend was terrific, his friends were super friendly, and that was when I started loving camping and exploring new places in a much simpler way than I was used to.

Not long after that weekend, Wade asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend, and we agreed to embark on the most incredible journey of our lives, our relationship. I am very rational, but if there is a soul mate, Wade is mine.

We have also created a Youtube video explaining our story if you are interested in watching.

Why did we decide to travel?

Many people get tired of their life and want to make a radical change or take a break from a stressful life.

Our story was a little different, at least from my end. I liked my profession and the career I had. I was a finance manager at a disability platform, and I loved my job for the first three years out of the 5 I was with the company. I was happy; I earned well and had a very good life. Things started to change when the company started growing too much, too fast. Management changed, and things started not being so great anymore. But I still enjoyed what I was doing and could easily find another organisation to do the work I loved doing.

On the other hand, Wade had been working in the security industry for 15 years and was very tired of the industry and his job. He wanted to quit but didn’t know what he wanted to do. He was also making good money from it, making his decision to quit harder.

With what we earned, we had the privilege of being able to travel every year, taking advantage of our four weeks of vacation.

However, we always ask ourselves: when we retire, get old, and look back on our lives and what we lived, what will be our regret? We would certainly look back, regretting not having taken the road and living more in the world and less in the office.

So we decided to travel more. We only have one life; it goes fast, the years fly by, and it’s all gone when you see it. We wanted to travel more, explore the world more calmly, be able to go to places that many people don’t go, and experience things our way, and therefore, we decided to travel!

What was it like quitting our jobs?

It certainly wasn’t the easiest part. Wade had been in the same industry for 15 years. He knew a lot about it and created excellent connections. When you stay in one industry or company for so long, you feel like you’re part of it, and it’s hard to take a part of yourself away.

There was also the financial issue and the judgment of colleagues, friends, and family.

The judgement part was, for us, the simplest. We’ve never given much thought to what others say, and we’ve always given our decisions a lot of thought. So, by the time a decision is made, we’d have thought through all the scenarios and implications quite a bit. And, for many people, it wasn’t a total surprise either. Our style of travelling, and living, already indicated that this could happen.

It was also really cool to see the support of people from Dani’s work and some of our friends. People who maybe thought about doing this at some point but didn’t follow through with the plans, or people who would never do it and think we’re crazy. Longtime bosses said, “Okay, you have to go and enjoy it, and if it goes wrong, come back here”. And the point here is not the eventual safety we felt of being able to return to our jobs or not, but seeing that we left the doors open and created nice and solid relationships.

The trip

Our initial plan was to travel for one year, completing the big lap around Australia. We left Sydney in March 2022 and went north to the fantastic beaches, rainforest and waterfalls in Queensland (you might have already seen some of our Queensland posts around here)

Afterwards, we went a bit inland and explored the outback of Queensland. We spent a few weeks there, visiting Winton, Mary Kathleen, Julia Creek, Mount Isa and other cool places. Queensland is a beautiful state to travel to by car, and we loved our experience there.

From Camooweal, in Queensland, we crossed the border to the Northern Territory and started heading south towards Devil’s Marbles. From there, we kept going south until we arrived at Alice Springs. We then explored the West Macdonnell Ranges and, finally, the famous Uluru. After a lot of red dirt in the NT, we returned to Sydney for our friends’ wedding.

We left Sydney again and started making our way south, crossing into Victoria. In Victoria, we found some of the best free camps we have been in this trip, and we travelled the Great Ocean Road from Torquay to Allansford, one of the most beautiful roads we have driven. From Allansford, we visited The Grampians before crossing to South Australia.

In South Australia, we saw some of the most beautiful beaches in our lives, and great free camps too!! Point Brown and Perlubie Beach are up there on our list. Kangaroo Island was one of our favourite places on this whole trip.

After exploring South Australia, we have finally made our way to Western Australia, where we are now while this post is being written. Western Australia was the state we were looking forward to the most in this big lap of Australia, and it has not disappointed so far.

Esperance was incredible, but we were unlucky with the weather. We spent a week there and only had one nice, hot summer day. We then made our way to Albany and Denmark, the Wave Rock and Margaret River. We loved the Margaret River region!!

We are now just south of Perth and will spend a few weeks here before heading north.

We plan to slowly go up to Broome, exploring all the beautiful WA coast, and then start making our way east towards the Northern Territory again and explore the top part of the state that we have yet to explore.

From there, we will pause our Australia trip and travel to Brazil for my best friend’s wedding; I will be a bridesmaid. The plan after is to come back to Australia and explore the only state we have yet to go to, Tasmania.

And after that, what happens? We don’t even know.

Why travel in a van?

On our YouTube channel, we talk more about our house on wheels, but it’s cool to explain better why we decided to travel by van.

In August 2016, we went to New Zealand for our friend’s wedding and decided to make it a two-week trip out of it. There, we rented a small campervan. We loved the experience and freedom of stopping and sleeping anywhere, but we didn’t feel completely comfortable with a low-roof vehicle. Wade couldn’t stand up properly and was always crunching over. We loved the experience of a two-week trip but realised that we wouldn’t be able to travel for an extended period that way.

In 2019, we went to Cairns, Queensland, and rented another small campervan. It had a kitchen inside and water, but not a bathroom. It was a sensational experience, and we knew that we could do this for longer if we had a bathroom and a high roof so that we could both stand up while inside the van.

We wanted the freedom to explore places people don’t usually see, to be able to shoot and film and experience everything our way. So after that trip, we decided to buy our empty van and convert it into a tiny home on wheels.

It took a long time to research everything we could about a van build. We watched lots and lots of videos and read many blogs to come up with an ideal layout for our van. When we defined the layout, we started researching the best way to build it. Since we were both working full-time and didn’t have any experience building a van or anything like that, we knew we would need time and would make mistakes along the way.

Building our home on wheels

We both worked the standard 9 to 5 and only had the weekends and after-hours to work on the van build. It took us seven months to complete the whole project, which was worth it. We built our house on wheels with a fixed bed, a kitchen and a full bathroom with a toilet and a shower.

Our home was built on a 2017 Mercedes Sprinter Long Wheel Base, 416. We bought it with 125,000 km on it, after a lot of research to find the right car. So far, we haven’t had a problem with the extended size of the car, which was our fear.

How did we plan the travel, and how are we going to stay on the road (financially)

Money is always a relevant issue and is, without a doubt, the subject we are asked the most. And we will be very frank with you because we understand the curiosity, and we also had our doubts about the subject before starting this adventure.

First, we saved a lot of money and invested everything we could in making it work. This was not done overnight. It’s been a few years of saving and investing, month by month, whenever possible. We lived together; Wade sold his scooter and dirt bike, and we sold our car and stuff around the house we knew we wouldn’t need anymore. We cut expenses and stopped doing things that cost a little more to direct those savings to our project.

Also, we found a way to stay on the road for longer without using our savings. Our money today comes from a few sources:

  1. We take pictures and make videos for some brands while we are travelling.
  2. Our blog makes us some money every month with affiliate program links. The same links are sometimes found in the descriptions of our videos on YouTube.
  3. We also work with the promotion of products, brands and services on our channels, charging for it.

Everyone dreams of getting paid to travel, and we’ve been able to work with really cool brands that help us cover the cost of our trip, but that came after a lot of contacts (we have reached out to over 50 companies). Another thing that helped us a lot in getting brand deals is showing, through our Instagram, our photographs and videos that only started getting better once we started learning and practising during the trip. Our blog has also been online for about two years now.

Do you need this planning or these sources of income to travel? Of course not. This was how we planned and have been running our trip, but there are countless examples of people who have travelled the world differently.

Want to help us?

We are always thrilled to see people follow our trip, which significantly helps us! Follow us on YouTube and Instagram. We also love when people tell us they found us through our blog; there is a lot of information there. Make sure you check it out!