November 13, 2020 4 min read

Free-spirited, adventurous, adventure seeking couple, Karstan & Maxine have always loved to hit the road in a classic old Kombi, and becoming parents hasn’t changed a thing. Together with their baby daughter, Zuri, they have been embracing the freedom of the open road and the Australian outback.

Here, they open up about the simplicity of having a home on wheels, living in the moment, waking up in different places, and their tips for other young families who may be considering taking the plunge on their own van-life adventure.  

In your pre-parenting days, you two were experienced at travelling, van-life style. How do you find the experience this time around, with your gorgeous 11-month old daughter, Zuri, now part of the gang?

Adventure has been a part of our relationship from the beginning. We bought our first Kombi unseen in 2008 whilst over in Spain. When we arrived back in Australia we collected our Kombi which we named Bombi, made a few minor amateur adjustments and then did a full lap of Australia for 12 months. It was during this lap, that we fell in love with the simplicity and freedom of van-life. For over a decade our passion for exploring Australia and Kombis continued & when we found out that we were having a baby.. we just couldn’t wait to go on adventures as a family. We’ve always said that having a baby wouldn’t stop us and we’ve stayed very true to that. 

Zuri has been travelling in a van since she was a newborn so it’s a very normal way of life for us all. For us van life with a bay is all about mindset, we never saw any barriers, we simply worked out what we needed and made it work. And to be honest we are always finding ways to simplify and improve our lives.. you learn as you go. Overtime as Zuri has grown we have adapted to her needs.. she’s gone from sleeping most of the time to rolling, crawling, eating and now standing!

Having our girl travelling with us has been the most fulfilling experience of our lives, we feel so fortunate to be able to parent together and watch our girl grow up on the road. 

For others who may be seriously considering taking the plunge and embarking on their own van-life journey with a baby, share your top 3 essentials for making it all just a little bit easier?

1.When you are regularly on the move, it’s important to be open to just going with the flow, there are so many variables that are out of your control so you really have to just embrace each day as it comes. For example, you may arrive at a destination late, brake down or you could face some crazy weather!

2.Take a portable high chair, we use this every single day. It makes eating so much easier and is also a great way for your little one to be up off the ground.

3.A mesh shade cloth for the ground. The sand and dirt falls through, they put a barrier between anything sharp or spiky, are easy to clean and dry quick. You can buy per metre at Bunnings and they come in a number of colours. It sounds so simple but will really make a big difference. 

Can you share with us a place that really pulled at your heartstrings?

That is a tough question to answer, we have been wowed so many times! Travelling through the outback gave us all the feels, there is something really magic about the red dirt, the vast landscape and the beautiful country people.  If we had to pick an area it would be the Darling River Run the ever changing terrain was mesmerising. We would really like to see more families venturing out into the remote areas of our country, there is so much beauty and diversity.

Are you always planning where your next destination will be or is there an element of just going-with-the-flow?

A bit of both :)

We usually have a major destination / challenge that we are working towards and to look forward to, for example making it to the tip of Cape York in our kombi was one. Although this was our end goal, we would only ever usually plan one day at a time. There is nothing more exciting than having the freedom to just go with the flow. Our direction would regularly change after meeting people along the way who would tell us about a ‘must see’ place to visit or stay. We thrive off the unknown roads ahead!

What do you love most about travelling & living in the Kombi? 

We love the simplicity of living in a small space. You realise that you really don’t need much to be happy.. your focus is on experiences and being together, rather than objects or material things. When your home is on wheels, you’re always waking up in different places, it’s really exciting - we love the freedom that comes with being on the road. Finally…. one of the greatest things about travelling in the Kombi is the happiness that we bring other people and ourselves. Kombis just make people smile :)

How do you feel this kind of adventure is shaping Zuri’s experience of the world around her?

We’ve loved watching Zuri grow up on the road. Every new experience is shaping her into the most amazing little human. She is a ray of sunshine, so content with being outdoors, curious to find out how things work, always excited about meeting new people and her big cheeky smile brings everyone she meets so much happiness. We have no doubt that the adventures we are taking her on is having a great positive impact. We feel very lucky to be her parents :)