For the past 18 months Laura Waddell has been travelling around Australia in her tiny Hyundai i30 exploring popular destinations and gorgeous secluded beaches across the country.
The 22-year-old from NSW started her trip in 2019 but Covid restrictions stopped her in her tracks.
She finally picked up where she left off in January 2021 and has since driven more than 50,000km through Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and the Outback by herself.
‘I have always wanted to travel and enjoyed getting out and about around our beaches and national parks, so I decided to road trip Australia to better explore our beautiful country,’ Laura told FEMAIL.
From skydiving and bungee jumping in tropical north Queensland to snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and exploring lava tubes in the Outback, the young traveller has had some adventurous experiences.
Avid traveller Laura Waddell (pictured) has been driving solo in her Hyundai i30 for the past 18 months
From skydiving and bungee jumping in tropical north Queensland to snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and exploring lava tubes in the outback, Laura has had some adventurous experiences
‘I have always wanted to travel and enjoyed getting out and about around our beaches and national parks, so I decided to road trip Australia to better explore our beautiful home country,’ Laura told FEMAIL
Rather than spending thousands on a new caravan she decided to tweak her Hyundai i30 two wheel drive – which she purchased after a driving incident.
‘At the end of 2019 I was in a car accident which wrote off my first car, I was very lucky but it did mean I had to quickly get a new car to be able to get to work, so I ended up buying the i30,’ she said.
‘Not long after this I decided to commit to the idea of road tripping Australia and wanted to make it work with what I had.’
From the outside, the car looks exactly like a regular vehicle with a small solar panel mounted on the roof rack.
But inside there’s a quaint setup complete with a bed, fridge, storage compartments, power point, curtains, gas cooker, cooking and cleaning gear.
From the outside, the car looks exactly like a regular town car with a small solar panel mounted on the roof rack, but inside awaits a quaint setup
Laura started her venture in North New South Wales and headed to Queensland where she visited tropical destinations
Laura started her venture in northern NSW and headed to Queensland where she visited Noosa, Airlie Beach, the Whitsundays and Cairns.
‘Since then I’ve been lucky enough to travel anywhere from remote outback communities to the Daintree Rainforest or more recently the snow in the Victorian High Country,’ she said.
‘I’ve also been able to tick off destinations like the most easterly point of Australia at Byron Bay, the most northerly point of the mainland (the tip of Cape York) up in remote north Queensland and the most southerly point of Australia right down at Cockle Creek in Tasmania.’
Some of her personal favourite locations she’s visited include Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Adelaide, Great Ocean Road, Bay of Fires and the Victorian High Country.
Laura said she’s spent an average of $1,000 per month over the past year on the road – which includes food, fuel, accommodation, tourist attractions and tours.
Some of her personal favourite locations she’s visited include Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Adelaide, Great Ocean Road, Bay of Fires and Vic High Country
Laura said for the past year living on the road she’s spent an average of $1000 per month – which includes food, fuel, accommodation, tourist attractions and tours
Surprisingly, Laura said she doesn’t feel lonely on the road and is always meeting new people.
‘This is a question I get asked a lot (if I feel lonely) and I think everyone does get lonely from time to time but in general I don’t find solo travel to be lonely,’ she said.
‘There are a lot of other travellers on the road at the moment – both old and young – and I find that being on your own actually helps you to be more open to meeting new people.’
Laura said she doesn’t consider herself to be an ‘overly confident person’ but is ‘fairly independent’.
‘I do believe to travel on your own you need to be confident in your own abilities and be able to problem solve,’ she said.
Surprisingly, Laura said she doesn’t feel lonely on the road and is always meeting new people
What’s inside the car?
Cooking and cleaning gear
Solar panel on the roof
Where has she visited?
Great Ocean Road
Bay of Fires
Victoria High Country
Laura uses backpacking and hiking gear to keep her warm, safe and dry inside the car or outside in a tent.
‘My car doesn’t have Wifi however it does have power so I am able to recharge and use my data or hotspot straight from my phone,’ she said.
‘In regards to cooking and eating I can often use caravan or campground facilities but am fairly self sufficient with everything I need already with me.’
The back seats were removed and timber boxes were built for added storage space under her bed.
‘We also installed a deep cycle battery to allow me to have power and a fridge which runs off solar. When I am not traveling I can simply unscrew and take out the timber boxes to have a regular car back,’ she said.
While on the road Laura says safety is a huge priority and she uses apps like Wikicamps to read reviews of campgrounds and caravan parks.
‘I always have a back-up plan for if the area I plan to visit or stay in doesn’t feel right and make sure to let family know where I will be and roughly how long for if I’m going out of phone range – all of which helps me to avoid feeling unsafe on the road,’ she said.
When asked what advice she’d give to others wanting to travel around the country, Laura said you’d be surprised how inexpensive it is.
‘You definitely don’t need the best or most expensive set up out there to have an incredible time, there is so much that you can do on a budget or with what you have,’ she said.
‘Your budget can be totally up to you and how you like to travel, there are plenty of ways to save and stretch your money further or alternatively lots of job opportunities.’
She also recommends taking the time to really experience the places you visit, and to stay safe.
Laura’s most memorable adventures while on the road:
Skydiving and bungee jumping in tropical north Queensland
Solo hiking in the Daintree rainforest and doing multi-day hikes in Tasmania
Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays
Caving and exploring lava tubes in Outback Queensland
Driving the i30 (2wd) up Cape York (a renowned 4wd road trip)
Dog sledding and learning to snowboard for the 2022 snow season
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