Husbands traveling Australia by cheap van

The husbands decided to pack their bags and travel around Australia, sleeping in their van for a year and a half.

Michael Kabourakis, 31, from Sydney and Charlie Douty, 28, from Kent, originally planned to go abroad in 2021, but the pandemic has changed things.

Now they’ve been traveling Australia since December 2020 and haven’t looked back.

They spoke exclusively to Daily Star about how they were able to do it – and it’s easier than you might think.

“Charlie moved to Sydney to be with me mid-2019 and ended up in a job he didn’t really like,” Michael explained.

“Because Charlie was unhappy with his job and COVID was happening all over the world but not really in Australia, I said we should just buy a van and drive around Australia.



Michael Kabourakis and Charlie Douty have been traveling Australia for almost a year and a half

“We figured if COVID got worse, every state is so big that we would still have a lot to explore and we could find a home somewhere rural while we waited for COVID to die down.

“But that never happened, our trip was never really impacted by COVID, we’re super blessed and lucky.”

Western Australia’s borders were closed just after entering the state in late 2021.

They see it as a blessing, because they had a lot to explore. They’ve been in Western Australia for five months now, but they still have a lot to discover.

Michael and Charlie have already seen much of the country, having so far traveled from Sydney through Queensland, the Northern Territory as well as most of Western Australia.



They slept most nights in their van
They slept most nights in their van

They had the chance to visit Byron Bay, Fraser Island, the Whitsundays, Fitzroy Island and the Great Barrier Reef.

The couple crossed Darwin, Kakadu National Park, Ningaloo Reef, Broome, Karijini National Park and Perth off the list, and they are now in the Margaret River area.

Michael added: “Basically, there’s so much to see and we plan to see it all because we’re writing the first first-hand, LGBTQIA+-focused travel guide to Australia.”

They still have to pass through South Australia, the southern Northern Territory, Victoria and Tasmania before returning to Sydney.

If you want to follow in their footsteps, you’ll be happy to know that it didn’t cost them an arm and a leg to make their dream a reality.



They spent months discovering Western Australia, which has a lot to offer
They spent months discovering Western Australia, which has a lot to offer

“We didn’t really plan how much we needed to save to get started and take the trip,” they revealed.

“Basically, we just wanted enough money to buy the van and knew we’d work along the way to make the money.”

They sometimes do something called workaway or helpexchange, which is where you work on a property for meals.

It could be a farm, a dwelling house or a hostel and the duo say it’s the best way to travel for free.

Michael continued: “We also worked as social media managers for six months during our trip to give us an income during our trip.



Luckily, it didn't cost them an arm and a leg to make their dream come true.
Luckily, it didn’t cost them an arm and a leg to make their dream come true.

“We didn’t even know how Instagram worked when we started this journey! But we basically learned everything about Instagram, created our account, and then worked as social media managers.

“So we didn’t really plan how much we needed to save or for how long – we just tried!”

The couple say they travel slowly, as they want to make the most of what each location has to offer.

If they fall in love with a particular place, they will stay there longer, like when they volunteered as cleaners at a hostel in Port Macquarie for six weeks or worked on Fraser Island for 10 days .

“We stayed in Perth for two months because Charlie’s uncle lives there and we met some nice people who we became friends with and who allowed us to move into their home as well,” Charlie said.

“But in the Northern Territory there aren’t that many workaways or aid exchange experiences and the heat was unbearable at the time we went so we traveled the whole state in one month.”



They worked on properties in exchange for a good meal
They worked on properties in exchange for a good meal

Now Michael and Charlie live a life where they have the freedom to wake up on a beach and see the sunset and sunrise every day.

“[The highs] we have the freedom to change places at any time if we don’t like it and find a better place,” explained Michael.

“The freedom to explore your country in a vehicle that’s actually your home. I’m on my bed in the van now looking at the ocean knowing I’m going to go swimming after hitting the send button. It’s the best.”

All that said, they miss the comforts of home. The reason they stayed so long in Perth was so they could shower in the same place every day.

They also didn’t have a kitchen that they had to pull out of a cupboard.



Michael and Charlie live a life where they have the freedom to wake up on a beach every day
Michael and Charlie live a life where they have the freedom to wake up on a beach every day

“When you live in a van, everything is that much harder. You don’t have the same grocery store to visit, so every time you’re in a new small town or suburb, the supermarket aisles are all different and you have to browse the store again,” explained Michael.

“If you really need the bathroom, you have to open your camping app and find the nearest one because we don’t have one in the van!”

“If you need a shower but there isn’t one around, just use a baby wipe or don’t shower at all. I’m a creature of routine, and being in a van is sometimes a life without routine!

“It’s very challenging and while I love the freedom to explore the world, I’m very excited to have a home again in a year.”



They want to show other LGBTQIA+ people where it's safe to travel
They want to show other LGBTQIA+ people where it’s safe to travel

As well as fulfilling their dream of exploring Australia, Michael and Charlie are also on a mission to increase LGBTQIA+ representation in travel media.

While travel content is popular, LGBTQIA+ representation is virtually non-existent, especially in Australia.

“LGBTQIA+ travelers have a lot of anxiety and concerns when traveling, and media portrayal of travel can make them feel much safer and more welcome to travel to that particular region,” Michael explained.

“Often, if you google ‘gay travel’, you’ll find information about gay bars and clubs to go to in big cities, but you’ll never find rural areas in LGBTQIA+-friendly countries.

“And if you don’t see someone like you going to that place, you assume that someone like you can’t go to that place. It’s not that remote LGBTQIA+ hosting experiences don’t exist, it’s just that people don’t know about them.

“So our mission is to get representation there and then get more LGBTQIA+ people to go to those places where they feel safe to do so!”

Follow Michael and Charlie’s adventures via their Instagram, website and YouTube.

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