claire falconer van life
Image: Courtesy of Claire Falconer

This Mama Left Her Life in the UAE to Do Up a Van and Travel Australia

Claire Falconer's dream of traveling all over her home country came true in the middle of a pandemic.

When the pandemic began, our dreams of traveling the world sort of changed. Even when things were a little better, we were told to stick to traveling domestically, even statewide and as solo as possible. One mode of travel that really, really took off in 2020 was renting an RV or a van. What it reminded us of was that there was a lot of beauty in our own backyard. Claire Falconer and her partner, Luke Morris, had the same thought. They packed up their lives in Dubai, sold everything they owned, and journeyed back to Australia to see what wonders the island nation had to offer them. We interviewed Claire about her journey, what she’s learned, and what she’s looking forward to in the future. Keep reading for more.

claire falconer
Image: Courtesy of Claire Falconer

Claire Falconer’s Van Life Journey

1) Tell us about what inspired you to make the decision to travel across Australia in a van.

My husband and I had been living in Dubai for 10 years, we were super lucky and we managed to travel a lot of the world. But I had never traveled much of my own country. So, it was always a dream to travel to Australia whilst living a much simpler more minimal life. So, we finally took the leap of faith and packed up our lives in Dubai. I sold or gave away basically everything I owned. And finally moved from Dubai in Jan 2020. I moved here with one suitcase full of belongings. And set out to start out a new life. Firstly, we built our van from scratch which took about 3.5 months, then we finally hit the road traveling up the east coast of Australia from Melbourne.

2) Tell us about your day to day, from routines to daily travel.

Each day is different depending on where we wake up. The only constants that remain in every day are watching each and every sunrise and sunset, getting our daily exercise and movement in, and being fully immersed in nature.

3) Favorite place you’ve been or thing you’ve seen?

Honestly, we get asked this question so much and it’s so hard to answer as truly everywhere we saw was so beautiful. I was constantly in shock at how beautiful Australia truly is. Some places and activities that stood out would have to be sailing around the Whitsundays, following the humpback whale migration and seeing whales daily, and also the Daintree national park (it’s where the ocean meets the oldest rainforest in the world). But truly my favorite of all was just waking up each morning to an even more beautiful spot and being fully immersed in Australia’s wildlife daily.

claire falconer
Image: Courtesy of Claire Falconer

4) What have you learned during this journey?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is how little ‘stuff’ you truly need to live a full, rich and beautiful life. We have absolutely everything we need in our home on wheels. We are the happiest and most relaxed we have ever been. Additionally, our relationship is the strongest it has ever been. I thought that living in such a small space would drive us both mad and it was a big concern of us entering this life. But to our surprise, it’s done quite the opposite. It strengthened our communication and teamwork.

5)    What’s next for your post-van life?

We have no plans to leave van life any time soon. I am currently expecting our first baby, I am now 27 weeks pregnant. So, we have taken a mini-break from van life at the moment. I have numerous doctor’s appointments that we need to be in one place for as well. We needed some time to make some modifications in the van to fit our bub. But we have every intention to return back to the road once our little one arrives in late April.

6)    What lessons have the pandemic taught you?

We have been incredibly lucky here in Australia and have actually been pretty untouched by COVID. However, my husband’s business is in Dubai and that has been hit hard, so it’s been a very stressful period in some regards yet the most relaxing and perfect in other ways. We continually pinch ourselves on the timing of moving back to Australia as we feel lucky to be here. As well, as the timing on finally choosing to live a more minimal ‘non-conventional’ life at the exact moment, we needed to.

So, I think the biggest lesson that I have personally learned from the pandemic is that we are exactly where we need to be with absolutely everything that we need to be truly happy. And trust me, it’s not much.

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