A COUPLE made a home out of a disused Coca-Cola truck and now get to travel on a never-ending rent-free road trip.
Pauli, 32 and Clara, 27, from Australia spent almost a year converting the old, rusting truck and now feel freer than ever after embracing the "van life".
The pair, who met on a ski season in Japan in 2018, spent their evenings and weekends converting the 2005 Isuzu truck and kitting it out with all they would need.
After 11 months, they were able to leave their shared flats behind and move into their truck, aptly named Cola, at the end of 2021.
They moved into the truck for a year to save money for their travels and since then, they've been cruising all over Australia enjoying a work-free life.
"We feel very blessed. We absolutely love our tiny home on wheels," Pauli told 7News.
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“It feels amazing being rent-free and not having to deal with the difficult task of trying to find and apply for overpriced rentals."
The former carpenter continued: “It’s a great feeling to be able to wake up in something you’ve worked so hard towards.
“It makes it even better that we get to wake up every day and explore this beautiful country.”
Prior to their decision to spend their days on the open road, both were struggling with the cost of living crisis and the "grind" of full-time jobs.
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The Wollongong couple needed a change and decided to see what else Australia had to offer.
Clara, who left her job as a nurse, said: “It has always been on our bucket list to travel around Australia.
“We love travelling and going on adventures and have both travelled a lot overseas but never in our own backyard.
“We were really drawn to the idea of being on the open road with nowhere to be and no one to answer to – rent free and work free.
“It’s a great sense of freedom.”
The pair spent a long time searching for the right vehicle for their budget and lifestyle.
"Buses and vans are harder to build as they have curved walls and short ceiling heights, instead of being a square box like a Pantech truck.
"And Pauli is also too tall for a lot of the buses and vans which only offer a 6ft (182cm) height, max," explained Clara.
They stumbled across "Cola" on sale for £9,500 in Sydney and knew it was perfect.
"There’s lots of room, heaps of storage inside and outside, higher weight capacity."
She added: “It feels like a home more then a camper.”
The Aussie couple forked out over £24,000 converting the truck into a proper home on wheels.
“It took us 11 months to complete the build,” Pauli said.
“We were renting in a share house with our mates the whole time while converting our truck. We were working a regular Monday to Friday grind.
“We were only working on converting the truck on weekends and afternoons."
Making good use of Pauli's experience as a carpenter, they fitted the truck with a higher roof, wooden floorboards and all the storage they would need.
They then set about with installing appliances, plumbing and wiring the whole van.
“Everything you would need in your normal day-to-day life in a domestic home we have in the truck. Everything we own is in here," said Pauli.
“The truck has air conditioning, a full kitchen with a gas oven and stove, a queen-sized bed, two seats, a foldable table, a bathroom with a shower and toilet and plenty of storage.”
They've even kept the iconic Coke curtains on the outside of the truck as a nod to its history.
All the "fun stuff" they own is stored on the van's exterior- bikes, motorbikes, surfboards, sketch boards and an outside tables and chair.
In January, they officially started the travels near the Victoria border and have been working their way up.
“We cook most nights, do free activities like surfing, riding, swimming, hiking, paddle boarding and just chill out," said Clara.
They save money on the road by finding "free camping" spots 95 per cent of the time.
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“We spend the day at nice beach spots with ‘no camping’ signs (then) have dinner and, after dark, we just shift to a nice flat spot without any signs," Clara explained.
What's next in their road trip? "We don’t have a plan, and that’s what’s so great and free about living on the road – we don’t really have anything we are rushing back for," said Pauli.
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