“Life is what happens to us when we are making other plans” is a saying we can all agree on. Mitch Cox and Cleo Codrington too. Two young Australians, they met at university where both were studying graphic design. Today they are enjoying a lifestyle neither would have imagined a few years ago.
Mitch Cox explains, “Traveling was never really a passion for me, and it definitely wasn’t something I ever thought I could pursue as a career.”
Cleo feels the same. “I never thought I’d be living out of a van and on the road,” she says.
While Mitch and Cleo had not envisioned exploring the world as a way of life, they were certainly not attracted to the idea of spending their days in an office. “I knew that a life indoors in front of a computer wasn’t for me. And besides, we didn’t have children, full-time jobs or a mortgage, so Cleo and I began traveling,” says Mitch. “It was short weekend getaways at first, but these soon turned into month-long adventures. It didn’t take long before we were hooked on the lifestyle.” They began by customizing a Toyota Hiace from 2002, a project that is still ongoing. “It was a joint effort,” Cleo recalls, “but Mitch did most of the manual labor, which he’s pretty good at. The layout and design have changed over time, and there are always improvements being made. We found the best way to see if it works is to actually live in it.”
When you come from a country as vast and diverse as Australia, you could spend your entire life exploring it. Cleo and Mitch have certainly seen their share of it. Between journeys, they’re based in Sydney where they work to save up for the longer adventures. But the two are constantly heading out on mini-holidays.
Any Australian trips that stick out? Cleo remembers a journey to north Queensland. “Great weather, lush rainforests, mountains, reefs to explore, waterfalls and pristine beaches where we could park our van. It’s a wonderful place.” Mitch recalls a much bumpier ride. “One of my favorite adventures to this day was driving across one of the roughest roads in Australia, usually only suitable for the toughest 4x4s. Even though we didn’t have four-wheel drive, we desperately wanted to see the area. After a couple of weeks and several thousand kilometers of endless bumps and an impossible amount of dirt on and inside the van, we finally made it,” Mitch says with a big smile.
Over the years, Cleo and Mitch have found that vanlife doesn’t have to be costly. “We cook our meals in the van, and we rarely go out to eat,” explains Cleo. “If you do without luxuries, and live on tuna and rice for a while, you can get by on very little. Furthermore, we have solar power, and the van has a diesel engine, allowing us to save a lot of money on fuel. So it’s really a matter of sensible budgeting and investing in economical solutions.”
To supplement their budget while they’re on the road, Mitch makes full use of his talents as a photographer. “I’ve been into photography since I was a kid,” he says. His images have become very popular – not just among the many thousands of followers the couple has on Instagram, but a number of tourism companies like them too. Some have been happy to pay well into the thousands for a photograph taken by Mitch Cox. After a visit to his Instagram, it’s easy to see why.
Although they like to live as simply as possible, they both appreciate the convenience offered by having a few Dometic products. “We have a Dometic CX50 Fridge to keep our food and drinks cool,” says Cleo. “We also use a Dometic Fan-Tastic vent, which is perfect on hot summer nights. I’ve also recently installed a Dometic 2-Burner stove. Being able to cook a meal inside our little home is an unbelievable luxury. Another new addition is a Dometic Pure Sine Wave Inverter. I’m really impressed with how efficient it is, far better than any I’ve used before.”