Husbands decided to pack up their life and travel around Australia, sleeping in their van for the last year and a half.
Michael Kabourakis, 31, from Sydney and Charlie Douty, 28, originally from Kent, had originally been planning to go overseas in 2021 but the pandemic changed things.
Now they have been travelling around Australia since December 2020 and haven’t looked back.
They spoke exclusively to Daily Star about how they have afforded to do so – and it’s easier than you may think.
“Charlie moved to Sydney to be with me mid-2019 and landed in a job he didn’t really love,” Michael explained.
“Because Charlie was unhappy in his job, and COVID was happening around the globe but not really in Australia, I said we should just buy a van and go around Australia.
“We figured if COVID worsened, each state is so big that we’d still have a lot to explore and that we could find a home somewhere rural while we waited for COVID to ease.
“But that never happened, our trip was never really impacted by COVID though, we are super blessed and lucky.”
The borders into Western Australia closed right after they entered the state in late 2021.
They see this as a blessing though, as there has been a lot for them to explore. They’ve been in Western Australia for five months now but still have so much more to discover.
Michael and Charlie have already seen a lot of the country, so far having travelled from Sydney up through Queensland, the Northern Territory as well as most of Western Australia.
They’ve been fortunate enough to visit Byron Bay, Fraser Island, the Whitsundays, Fitzroy Island and the Great Barrier reef.
The pair have crossed off Darwin, Kakadu National Park, The Ningaloo Reef, Broome, Karijini National Park and Perth of the list, and they’re now in the Margaret River region.
Michael added: “Basically, there’s so much to see and we plan to see it all because we are writing the first first-hand LGBTQIA+ focused travel guide of Australia.”
They still have to go through South Australia, southern Northern Territory, Victoria and Tasmania before returning to Sydney.
If you are wanting to follow in their footsteps, you’ll be happy to know it didn’t cost them an arm and a leg to make their dream a reality.
“We didn’t really plan how much we had to save to start and do the trip,” they revealed.
“We basically just wanted enough money to buy the van and we knew we’d work along the way to earn some money.”
They sometimes do something that’s called workaway or helpexchange, which is where you work on a property for meals.
It could be a farm, a residential home, 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 as we travelled along.
“We didn’t even know how Instagram worked when we started this trip! But we basically learnt all things Instagram, created our account, and then had jobs as social media managers.
“So we didn’t really plan how much we needed to save or for how long – we just gave it a go!”
The pair say that they travel slowly, as they want to make the most of what every place has to offer.
If they fall in love with a particular location they will stay there longer, like when they volunteered as housekeepers in 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 cool people we became friends with that let us crash in their home too,” Charlie said.
“But in the Northern Territory, there aren’t so many workaways or helpexchange experiences and the heat was unbearable at the time we went so we did the whole state in one month.”
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] are having the freedom to move from a spot at any time if we don’t like it, and find somewhere better,” Michael explained.
“The freedom to explore your country in a vehicle that is actually your home. I’m on my bed in the van now looking out at the ocean knowing I’m going to go for a swim afterwards I hit the send button. That’s the best.”
This all being said, they do miss the creature comforts of home. The reason they stayed in Perth for so long was because they were able to have a shower every day in the same location.
They also didn’t have a kitchen that they had to pull out from a cabinet.
“When you live in a van, everything is that much more effort. You don’t have the same grocery store to visit so every time you’re in a new little town or suburb, the supermarket aisles are all different and you have to navigate the store all over again,” Michael explained.
“If you really need the bathroom, you have to open up your camping app and find the closest one because we don’t have one in the van!
“If you need a shower but one isn’t around you just use a baby wipe or don’t shower at all. I am a creature of routine, and being in a van is a very routine-less life sometimes!
“It’s very difficult and although I love the freedom of exploring the world, I am very excited about the prospect of having a home again in a years’ time.”
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 basically non-existent, especially in Australia.
“LGBTQIA+ travellers have a lot of anxieties and concerns when travelling, and representation in travel media can make them feel that much safer and welcome to travel to that particular region,” Michael shared.
“Often if you google ‘gay travel’, you’ll find information about gay bars and clubs to travel to within the major cities, but you’ll never find out about the rural parts of the countries that are LGBTQIA+ welcoming.
“And if you don’t see someone like you travelling to that location, you assume someone like you can’t travel to that location. It’s not that LGBTQIA+ welcoming experiences in remote don’t exist, it’s just that people don’t know about them.
“So our mission is to get representation out there, and then get more LGBTQIA+ people travelling to these locations where they feel safe to do so!”
Keep up with Michael and Charlie’s adventures through their Instagram, Website and YouTube.
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