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Minimalist Lifestyle
Dale Trevor provides proven cost-cutting techniques while on the road
Words and Images by: Dale Trevor Q80294

It’s not everybody’s cup of tea but frugality, minimalist living, or being economical can help us to travel further, be on the road for longer, or take more trips each year. Sometimes ‘keeping it simple’ helps us to slow down a little, have more fun doing things ourselves, and save money at the same time. We don’t have to visit every tourist attraction to say we did it all, nor do we have to eat out every third day. It might be much healthier to make more meals yourself and create your own fun as you travel.

It’s obvious that travelling lots of kilometres every day is going to make for an expensive trip with regards to fuel costs. There are some who love to go at breakneck pace to ‘get somewhere’ and then relax. There are others who prefer  to travel slowly and enjoy stopping at different places along the way. Neither are wrong – it’s your choice. However, the more kilometres you travel down the bitumen each day, the greater the cost, and the more towns, lookouts, parks, and rivers that you may end up missing.

Consider travelling less distance each day, seeing more, and doing the things you love to do. Whether it’s swimming, cooking, cycling, bushwalking, bird watching or photography, make time to do what gives you the most enjoyment. You can save more money and have more time to just relax or pursue the things you enjoy. After you have purchased the initial equipment, these activities can be both low cost and high enjoyment.


I met a couple who had only travelled 300km in the first few months of their trip. Their average fuel cost was only a few dollars a day at the rate they were going. They also saw many things that they had driven past for years and never knew were there. Unless you have deadlines to meet or some grand plan that you want to stick to, it’s best to make time for detours to see things that people might suggest along the way. This means you can get up when it’s suitable to you, set off at a leisurely pace, and arrive early with plenty of the day left to poke around, shop for a bargain or do something that you enjoy. If you like the place then stay for a day or two. I find in a that time you can cover a lot of  road, and see the main features of a medium sized town or area.

Our recent trip to Tasmania averaged out to be $19 a day for fuel. That included our fairly fast trip down to Melbourne and back to Brisbane, as I had limited time off work and we wanted to maximise our time in the island state. When I am retired we will go much slower. If you are well set up for free camping, then you can eat similarly to what you do at home and only pay extra for fuel, gas, and those places that have an entry cost.


Everybody loves to eat and knows what they need to stay healthy and not put on too much weight. My wife has certain dietary requirements that mean it is easier to cook our  own food most of the time. With the right equipment, good ingredients, and a great recipe, cooking a hearty meal can be a satisfying part of the day. I like to cook outdoors on a liquid fuel double burner stove. We normally use shellite in this stove, but decided to use unleaded at $0.99/L while we were in Tassie. I like this stove as it puts out a large blue flame if you want a lot of heat for something like a stir-fry. We used about 1L of fuel a week, so the cooking fuel bill for the whole trip was about $10.

If you want to save on cooking fuel you could look at making a simple rocket stove or buying an Ecobilly to boil water. This means economical cooking without using gas, and enjoying the view as you keep food smells out of the motorhome. It also  leaves all of the gas for the fridge and hot showers.

Coming from a tenting background, we are used to cooking and relaxing outdoors. Smelling the rain while sitting under the awning during a downpour can be very enjoyable. If you are into outdoor living, then your rig doesn’t have to be large. I have noticed many seasoned travellers who aren’t on the road full time tend to have smaller setups (under 6m). This has its advantages with parking, room needed for free camping, fuel economy, and being able to turn around easily on that dirt track that you explored but can’t get any further.

On the road we prefer to use our pressure cooker, which makes for quick vegetables, delicate brown rice, bone broth, beans, hearty  stews, and even a small loaf of gluten-free bread. Food such as vegetables will take only a few minutes to bring to pressure then you can either turn the stove off or cook your meat on the same burner while the vegetables de-pressurise.

Cooking isn’t a chore with views like this

Many of you may have a DreamPot or something similar to cook up a delicious meal that’s ready to eat at the end of a fun day. If you love camp oven cooking, you’ll find many good recipes on our own CMCA Member Forum, posted by Derek Bullock and others. Derek also has a camp oven website and YouTube videos.

Sourcing your food can be fun, so take advantage of any roadside stalls, markets or bargains you find along the way. Use the internet to find local markets and cheap butchers. This all takes time, but isn’t a trip really about enjoying all parts of the journey?

Why not learn a few bread making alternatives, like making a big batch of pancakes, crepes, or flat breads for when you are free camping away from the shops. These are great for salad and cold meat wraps or panwiches (pancake sandwiches) for lunch.


We mainly use our solar power to run a little freezer which we load with cheap goodies that we make or source cheaply near home. We try to only open it once every few days, moving most of what we will need into the freezer portion of the three-way fridge. Our freezer is filled with raw meat frozen in meal-size portions, frozen milk drinks, and stewed or frozen fruit. We also leave some room for a bulk buy bargain while on the road, making it one of our favourite appliances in the motorhome. There is nothing better than a smoothie from your homegrown mango whipped up with solar power and drunk while relaxing in natural surroundings far away from home.

Our freezer can also be run as a fridge, so if something goes wrong with the three-way fridge we can continue the holiday without too much hassle. We bought a great ham in Devonport just after we arrived in Tasmania. We enjoyed cold meat each day, froze part of it for later in the trip, and of course made lovely pea and ham soup from the bones.

At home, we also dry cheaply sourced or homegrown fruit to take with us. Dried fruit is light, free or low cost, tasty, and easily made.

Making kefir or yoghurt, or sprouts and micro-greens are also possible to do while on the road. You should make sure you perfect simple methods for these processes before you try them away from home, though. We like to take nutritious whole foods such as beans, rice, rolled oats, quinoa, and whole wheat grains that are lightweight, inexpensive, and generally much healthier than processed food.

Catching your own fish is a bonus too. Why not arrive home from your trip feeling great, a little lighter, and a little stronger? Make time in your trip for meal preparation, as well as long walks and fun activities.

We love to freedom camp and are always looking for new ways to configure the motorhome so we have no need for amenities and 240V power. We lived in a caravan park for 18 months when we were first married, and have been there  again in tents in recent years. Caravan parks are not for us. We like to be in free camps that are out in nature, and we don’t mind being alone – as we were on a number of occasions in Tasmania. We have enough solar power so that even on an overcast day we can get enough power to keep our freezer going and charge the batteries a little. The fridge runs on gas that needs filling every three weeks. On sunny days we have plenty of power to boil water for drinks and washing up, as well as running the inverter for charging phones and using our stick mixer for smoothies.

A change is as good as a holiday. Consider travelling fewer kilometres each day, researching new things to make and eat, as well as leaving time to do the things you really enjoy doing. Try something new and keep learning. Saving money can be fun and can help you reach those far away goals. The choices are endless and varied. Jump online today and discover some minimalist living ideas. Who knows, you might use some of these at home too!

Travel less each day to really explore your surroundings

Tags: Cost Effective Saving Save RV Caravan Campervan Motorhome Fuel Food Power Self Contained Pressure Cooker Solar Battery Freezer Fridge Budget
Category: Features
Written: Thu 01 Feb 2018
Printed: February, 2018
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