When I decided to go backpacking in Australia on my working holiday visa, there were a few things that I knew I would do:
See the Harbour Bridge, Uluru and watch the F1 in Melbourne. One of them was definitely not sleeping in a car for three days.
It’s funny how things pan out, but this is undoubtedly one of the funniest, depressing and downright stupid things I have done in my life. Basically, getting to the stage where you have no choice but to sleep in a car is ridiculous.
At least I can look back on it now and laugh, but at the time it was horrible and a bleak insight into the lives of the homeless, as no matter how many layers you wear, it is freezing sleeping outside!
So sit back and relax, while you read quite possibly one of the stupidest and certainly most avoidable travel stories you could imagine!
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The Time I Slept In a Car For Three Days
The background of this story began with an Adelaide to Melbourne road trip. This was when I first arrived in Melbourne, and after staying in the same hostel for the duration of my time in Adelaide, there was to be a bit of a change!
We ended up moving hostels at least 3 times and then we stayed in our friend’s flat for a week, as it was free. At this time, we became lazy and neglected to book a hostel, even though we knew they would almost be fully booked for Formula 1.
As we were too busy enjoying ourselves. There are a lot of things to do in Melbourne! Booking a hostel was pushed to the background. That is where it remained until a few days before the F1 started, as we started to realise, we might be fucked!
Yes, believe it or not, attempting to book a hostel a few days before one of the biggest sporting events in Melbourne started resulted in complete and utter failure! There must be about 50+ hostels in Melbourne, but not one of them had any beds spare. To say we were fucked would be an understatement!
Being cheap backpackers, staying in a hotel was a non-starter, so we were left with a few options. Sleep rough in a park somewhere in Melbourne, not the best option that’s for sure, but we were that desperate we were seriously considering it!
The other option was to rent a car and sleep in it. On the surface, this didn’t seem too bad, it would be better than sleeping rough and we would be protected from the elements. Plus, we could use it afterwards to go travelling in Victoria.
Obviously, we didn’t want to spend too much renting a car, so we went to a place called Rent-a-Bomb, so as you can imagine, the car wasn’t exactly brilliant. In fact, I’m pretty sure the guy renting it wanted the car to break down on us, so he could get a few more dollars out of us!
I don’t remember exactly what the car cost, but it worked out less than $100 for a week, so between three people, that was very reasonable. We also had a battered old Mitsubishi estate, as our new home for the next few days!! Backpacking in Australia was certainly anything but dull!
Sleeping in the Mitsubishi
So, we had the Mitsubishi and with nowhere to sleep it was now our new home, or so we thought! On Friday, which was supposed to be the first night in our new abode, we were lucky enough to be offered refuge in a friend of a friend’s flat! So we slept in the relative comfort of his floor!
This was great! One less night in the Mitsubishi! When it actually came around to sleeping in the car, I can describe the experience nicely; not very enjoyable, and in more real terms, absolutely awful!!
It didn’t help that it had been raining and I had got very wet watching the F1, and with no access to a shower, this meant I was also stinky!
Now I don’t know if you have slept in the back of a car before, but it is not a pleasant experience, especially when you have to share the space with someone else.
As I am a tall person, (6ft+, that’s 180cms+ for those of you that don’t use antiquated forms of measurement!) being comfortable was out of the question.
It was virtually impossible to find a decent position to sleep in and how I got to sleep I’ll never know. Sleeping in the car also made me realise how fortunate you are to have a roof over your head!
It was absolutely freezing, even with two layers of clothes, a sleeping bag, and the Australian climate, it was still cold!
The second and final days of car-living were some of the days I had been looking forward to the most since I booked my flight to Australia. It was Formula 1 Grand Prix day!!
My enthusiasm had not been dampened by staying in the Mitsubishi, and the fact that I probably stunk and looked like shit wasn’t going to deter me!
Watching the F1 was a dream come true, and one of the best things I experienced in Australia! (Yes, I do love sports that much!) However, once the excitement had worn off, the realisation that we would be spending another night in the cramped confines of the freezing Mitsubishi, was a big comedown!
Even getting a post-race Nandos, could not cheer me up, I just wanted it to be the next day, when I would be able to have a shower and sleep on a mattress and not on top of a spare wheel, in the back of a car.
More good news arrived in the form of a job working for IKEA, so my mood had perked up a bit! However, once I was back in the car and in my sleeping bag, my mood dipped again.
Thankfully, it was easier to get to sleep this time and the night passed by quite quickly! The only problem was that we could not check into our hostel the next day until 1/2 pm, so we had to hang around in the car for a while before we could check-in and have a much-needed shower!
I can look back at this ridiculous sequence of events now and laugh, the fact that even got to the stage where we had to sleep in a car is utterly crazy. However, at the time, it wasn’t much of a laughing matter.
Not being able to shower for three days is horrible and sleeping in a dirty old car isn’t much better!
The experience gave me a newfound respect for homeless people and everything they have to endure, three days of sleeping rough was enough for me, so I can only imagine what they have to go through!
Although the experience was horrible, it was definitely character-building. It made me appreciate how lucky I am to be able to not only travel but sleep in a bed at night. It’s certainly something I didn’t expect to do on my working holiday!
If you are thinking about sleeping in a car while travelling, it can be a good way to save money, but the cons definitely outweigh the pros! Do you have any ridiculously avoidable travel stories such as this? Or do have experience of calling the back of a Mitsubishi home for a few days?
Tom is a travel addict who first left England to spend a year Down Under. Not satisfied with this, he then went to New Zealand, about as far away from home as he could get. He is now planning his next adventures in Europe and Canada while maintaining this blog. Check out the about me page to learn more!