Have you ever thought about what would happen if you were to leave your job and do what you love the most? Perhaps travel? Have you ever wondered how it would effect your life and your relationship with your partner? Would you take a challenge and give up on everything you own, pack the items you love the most and live in a van? Would you feel peaceful and happy if you were to park your VW on the white sand surrounded by the turquoise ocean and watch the sunset? Or waking up to the golden yellow, pink sunrise in the morning every single day? Would you feel that positive energy, that gets eaten away by your normal lifestyle, and leaves you sometimes feeling empty, stressed out and worn down?
If you've ever wondered what your life would be like, keep reading. I would like to introduce you to Elise Cook, who is a gorgeous Australian angel. She lives in a van with her husband while selling their wine, Down The Rabbit Hole. They have created a beautiful way of living and are enjoying the life that we are all dreaming of. :)
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and growing up in Australia
Hello! I’m Elise :) My husband, Domenic and I live in a 1972 classic Kombi camper van called Scout. We’ve been married now for just over four years, and we like to think that life, and marriage, is an adventure and that happiness is a journey, not a destination.
I grew up in South Australia, in a coastal town south of Adelaide with the beach as my backyard.
I then did high school in Jakarta, and after school spent time living in London. When I moved home to Australia, Dom and I moved to Melbourne for four years, where I studied. When we moved home to South Australia we started our winery, Down The Rabbit Hole. We worked really hard to get it up and running, and we were kicking goals, but we were working long hours and all my soul craved was adventure and travel, which felt a little impossible when starting a business / winery. So, we decided to buy a van as a compromise - so that we could take weekend trips locally.
The man who sold us our van did so on one condition, he made us promise him we would have adventures.
For about 6 months we went away every Sunday night. It took very little time out of our week, as we’d leave late Sunday afternoon and get home, ready to start work on the Monday morning. But, those Sunday nights totally broke up our weeks. They gave us a moment to breath, to disconnect, unplug, step back, and connect with each other.
When we could we started taking bigger trips, and life on the road taught us a lot of things. We gained a sense of freedom, clarity and perspective that I don’t think we could have gained any other way. It taught us to slow down, and my husband was especially surprised to discover just how productive he could be when well rested and in that clear headspace. We realised how little we really need to be happy, and I think because of this, and because of so many thoughtful conversations we had with people we met on the road, our idea of ‘success’ started to shift too. We started to see success not as how much wealth we could create, but a goal of living a good, simply life. There is such beauty in simplicity.
We were driving one day, and Dom looked at me and said, “We are both happiest when we’re in the van. Why don’t we just live in it full time? We can travel Australia like you’ve always wanted to, we can work from anywhere, and show our wine around the country as we travel.”
I laughed and said, “YEP!”. That was it, we moved out of our four bedroom, three bathroom house two months later, got rid of as much as we possibly could and moved our lives and everything we need into our tiny home on wheels.
We plan to spend about 2 years on the road, before heading back to South Australia to open our cellar door. We’re only a few months in but I feel like we have already gained so much. We’re using this as a time of learning. Learning about life, learning about ourselves, about health and wellness, about Australia, about how we want to connect, about how we can give back, what it means to live a good life, and how we want to live our lives. We are using this as a time to consciously implement the things we’re learning into our lives, and our hope is that a year from now, those conscious choices will become organic and second nature.
You have been to some incredible destinations, what is the favorite place you have visited thus far?
Oh, this is such a hard question. To be honest, I feel like Australia has taken me by surprise. I always had overseas travel on my radar, but because of the time factor, and now the fact that we’re in our van and need to be able to keep working, we are exploring Australia and it is just blowing me away. I have very quickly come to appreciate what a diverse and wildly beautiful land we live in. We recently spent time in Esperance, WA, I think that’s been my highlight for the last year. We camped on long stretch of white sand beach, and everyday we had these beautiful and incredibly friendly kangaroos hanging out with us!
What would you recommend to those who would like to follow your example and be travel bloggers?
For me, this whole evolution into travel blogging has been a very natural and organic reaction to me wanting to share our travels, as I love writing and taking photos. I has definitely been a surprise that so many people have wanted to follow along. My advice would be to always use your Instagram and blog as an extension of what you are already doing or love doing. Focus on what you’re doing because you LOVE doing it, and make sure that you would still be living the exact same life if the social media world didn’t exist - imagine that it could disappear tomorrow. I think the mistake I’ve seen happen is that people put such a huge focus on their Instagram or blog, that what they end up doing is for it, so there’s so much weight put on whether or not it’s successful, and then the whole vibe they’re sending out is completely unauthentic.
Be authentic to yourself, do the things that make your soul sing, travel the way you want to travel (not how Instragam thinks you should), and then share that with the world. If you are genuine and living a fulfilling life, people will want to be part of it, they’ll enjoy the magic you create and they’ll want to read the words you write.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would that be and why?
South Africa - It has always been a dream, there is something majestic and wild and wonderful about South Africa and I can’t wait to experience it one day.
What is your beauty advice to those who travel frequently? How do keep that beautiful glow in your skin?
For me - travel goes hand in hand with beautiful skin. I really believe in engaging with the natural elements - sunshine, the outdoors, ocean water, fresh water, and fresh air. My skin is happiest when I am connecting with the world around me. I have recently been reading and listening to a lot about keeping things as natural as possible when it comes to the way we care for our skin, and letting our skin’s microbiome flourish. There’s a full-blown ecosystem of tiny bacteria on our skin, and the harsh toxins and chemicals in most beauty products actually wreak havoc on this. We care so much about what we put into our bodies, but what we put on our bodies in just as important. It about choosing products with natural and organic ingredients.
What are the products you cannot travel without?
I love my skin oils. I am currently using the Akhal face oils - love. I am also using the Biology Skin hair and body washes, they are beautiful and it’s so great that I can use them in anywhere because there’s no nasties.
Because we are in the van and don’t always have water nearby to wash my face in at night, I do keeps face wipes handy. I use a brand you can buy at the grocery store, but again, they’re natural and organic - nothing nasty. The brand is called Wot Not.
Because I have curly hair I use sea salt to style my hair most days, and coconut oil to treat it once a week.
What is a destination on your bucket list?
Other then South Africa - the Caribbean. Get me somewhere I can be in the ocean all day and I’m happy.
Do you have a motto you live by?
“It’s a good day to have a good day.”
What's your fashion style?
It’s relaxed and free. I love my simple, everyday pieces, especially linen for comfort when travelling, and I also love having a couple of beautiful prints and floaty dresses, and a good pair of slides.
If you could give one piece of advice to any inspired blogger - what would that be?
Be authentic. This starts with you, nourish and nurture yourself, and create, write and take photos that make you happy. Don’t focus on numbers. You’re better off with 100 real, engaged followers who genuinely love what you’re sharing than 1000 hollow followers.
What's your favorite song?
For driving - Elation by The Isbells
For sitting by the sea - Simple Things by Ziggy Alberts
For connecting - Crazy Love by Van Morrison (our first dance song)
Of all time - Romeo & Juliet by Dire Straits
Who or what inspires you?
My husband. God. People we meet. Big love. The ocean. The open road.