Travel

This dude reveals what it’s like to travel for years with a cat as a companion

Back in May 2015, Richard East quit his job and sold his house and possessions to travel all over Australia in a camper van with his best friend: his rescued pet cat, Willow.

Now, two and a half years later, the unlikely duo have completed their trip around the country, having visited all six states and two territories, logging in more than 50,000kms of travel.

Along the way, the two went did incredible human-cat bonding activities, such as sailing in the Great Barrier Reef, camping and hiking up mountains, and driving for hours and hours on off-beaten dirt roads.

Richard, who hails from Hobart in Tasmania, says that people often get surprised whenever they see him wandering the country with a feline.

“Some people think it’s odd that I’m travelling with a cat, but Willow is so chilled out and absolutely loves our new lifestyle,” he told Bored Panda.

“Willow is kept safe with a tracking collar which allows me to always know where she is. She spends most of her time off the leash and is always keen to explore around our camp. With the tracking collar, I have the peace of mind that if she decides to go for a hike I will be straight onto her.”

In an interview with BuzzFeed, he added that there are many others who are doing the same thing.

“Every night there are hundreds of little cats tucked into bed in camper vans across Australia,” said Richard. “They are probably easier to travel with than dogs as they don’t require as much attention.”

We spoke to Richard to find out more about going on a once-in-a-lifetime journey with a feline friend. Have a look:

What inspired you to sell all your belongings and just hit the road with your cat, Willow?

“I had a good job and I had a house but they weren’t things that made me happy. They weren’t things that I truly felt grateful for. This I thought was a shame and not a life well lived so I decided to sell up and make a new life for myself, one that I could wake up each day feeling grateful for.”

What’s the best thing about travelling in a camper van with a cat? Also, what’s the hardest part?

“The best thing is always having the companionship of your best friend with you. We spend all day together and she is a big support for me. It’s a joy to have the opportunity to see the world through her eyes as we explore new places together.

“The hardest part would be that she is a cat and cats are by nature nocturnal. So often she wakes me up at night!”

What activities does Willow like to do most during the journey?

“Definitely sleeping. However, in the few hours each day she is awake she loves to explore the places we camp and I keep an eye on her to make sure she is safe.”

Which places you’ve visited are your favourite?

“There are just so many. We have recently spent a lot of time on the Spencer Gulf, South Australia and the beaches and sunsets are incredible.”

Now that you’ve travelled through all six Australian states, what’s next for you and Willow?

“Make that six states and two territories! We are still traveling, although I like to consider us ‘nomads’ now, moving on as the climate changes, chasing paradise! This year we will spend some time in Tasmania before heading back up to central Queensland to wait out the winter.”

What’s your best advice for those dreaming of trying out the camper van life?

“Making the transition to campervan life feels like a big leap but it’s a rewarding lifestyle once you settle into it. It can be scary leaving the security of a job and house but the freedom you get makes up for it.

“The stress of mortgage repayments and bills vanish and you find that you don’t have to work much when you live simply. A million doors of opportunity will open and you might find yourself somewhere or doing something new you never imagined.”

You can follow Richard and Willow’s adventures by following VanCatMeow on Instagram.