If you open your Instagram right now and scroll through your feed, it’s highly likely you are going to see someone posting about van living.
Whether it’s one of your mates who has packed up their life to travel around the country in a troopy or an influencer showing off their incredibly aesthetic van that looks nicer than your own home, it’s clear that this is a growing trend.
While this type of nomadic lifestyle has been around for a long time, the driving force has typically been older Aussies and international backpackers.
Now, in the wake of multiple lockdowns and the growing cost of living and rental crisis, droves of young people are taking up the “van life” as an alternative to a more traditional lifestyle.
Caravan and motorhome sharing company, Camplify, has seen a marked increase in young Aussies using its service, with CEO Justin Hales saying the trend isn’t slowing down any time soon.
“The passion for road trips has been boosted in the last couple of years, due to Australians looking to enjoy the flexibility of travelling at their own leisure and providing an affordable way of holidaying, with the option for self-contained travel,” he told news.com.au.
“Demand for domestic travel in Australia continues its strong performance as the country recovers from Covid and with what we’re seeing on Camplify, it’s a trend that isn’t slowing down, especially for younger travellers.
“Camplify has seen double the amount of young people hiring campervans this summer compared to the summer of 2021.”
International travel has been made more difficult by the Covid-19 pandemic, and repeated lockdowns means many Gen Z people have missed out opportunities they would have otherwise had for overseas experiences.
Mr Hales said one of the main reasons young people inquire about their van hire services is because they are wanting to explore the country.
“Generally speaking, we’ve found that the main driver for young people utilising the Camplify platform is to explore the country, whether it’s to visit friends and family, journey to more popular travel locations, or uncover lesser-known hidden gem destinations,” he said.
“Another factor is the uptake in interest we’ve seen towards custom van conversions and van renovations. We’ve witnessed a significant increase in the number of young people interested in converting their own vans, who turn towards the wide range of unique vehicles available on Camplify for inspiration.”
Young people are also looking to spend more time out on the road than older Aussies, with the average trip for campervan renters in their 20s being over eight days, compared to six days for travellers in their 40s.
For van lifer Blaze Lopes, 24, Covid and lockdowns were the tipping point for packing up her life and hitting the road.
Originally from Bondi Beach, Ms Lopes set off on her first solo road trip in 2021 and has now been travelling full-time for over two years.
And, even just in her time on the road, she has noticed a massive increase in younger people taking up the nomadic lifestyle.
While it is clear Covid has played a role in the shift, Ms Lopes said for many of the people she meets, the cost of living crisis and rising rent prices are also a major factor.
“You can see some of the young people who have taken it up recently are in two minds because the societal expectation within them is to go home, rent a house and work full-time, but they are moving towards this nomadic lifestyle because they are really struggling with that financial situation,” she told news.com.au last week.
“The majority of the people that I meet are from coastal areas and they hit the road because they’re like, ‘We still want to live along the coast, but we can’t afford to rent in our home towns along the coastline anymore.’”
For those thinking of dipping their toe into the van life way of living, Mr Hales has a few key tips to get the most out of your trip.
Travellers are advised to plan ahead, with Camplify seeing a 270 per cent growth in bookings in the past six months compared to the same period last year.
“We’ve got some really cool vans on Camplify; many are one-of-a-kind or offer luxury or retro travel experiences, but we’d recommend getting in early so you have plenty of options,” Mr Hales said.
“It’s really important to do your research. Know where you’re going and what you’ll need. Caravan parks will usually have power, bathrooms and cooking facilities, but if you’re heading off-grid you may need a campervan with solar panels, a toilet and shower, and a way to cook.”
Camplify also has a range of stories, suggested itineraries and tips and tricks for anyone looking for a bit of extra inspiration ahead of their trip.
“Our advice is simple: Book now and get excited. Autumn is a great time for an adventure, especially with Easter right around the corner,” Mr Hales said.