I admire any family that decides to pack up their whole lives and hit the road to discover Australia. The rush of excitement and fear that fills you when you finally drive out of your driveway is like a drug. You hit the open road, ready for anything to come your way.
It’s really amazing, isn’t it! But then sometimes the expectation and anticipation vs reality of travelling can be a little different. Travelling full-time is just that! It’s a full-time job with the added perks of seeing one of the best countries in the world. But for some families, it’s a lot harder than they expected.
In 2014 we met a young family that had decided to sell everything and pack their 7-year-old twins up and hit the open road. It had cost them close to $100,000 get the perfect setup to travel comfortably and they couldn’t wait.
They had been on the road for 3 months when things began to take its toll. By 6 months into their epic road trip they knew they had to head to home and stop travelling.
Obviously, we had to ask why? They explained that they thought the experience would be different. The Distance Education school they chose were too strict with the workload. They couldn’t get all the school work done and travel. Eventually, they became completely stressed and burnt out. They had over spent on the budget and didn’t do as much free camping as they had planned. Although they were returning home, they didn’t feel beaten, or like they were quitting. They just accepted that travelling full-time didn’t suit them and their family.
At the time I was completely gobsmacked! But now 4 year into travelling and working around Australia, I can understand how they felt.
What should you consider before you hit the open road?
Do you like driving?
Seems like a stupid question doesn’t it, but it really isn’t. A lot of families (including us) have the expectation of becoming super fit with all the great walks your going to be doing on your trip. But the reality of travelling around this massive country we have is that you’re going to be sitting in the car more than hitting the bush walks. For us, it was a huge adjustment driving most days of the week for a couple of hours a day and trying to keep the kids entertained all the time.
Do you like your PARTNER?
Ok, Ok, we all know you love your significant other (or at least like them) to be travelling with them. But could you handle being around your husband or wife 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for months on end!
Matt and I have been together for what feels like forever. But no matter how awesome your marriage is, if you go and throw yourselves and two kids in a van and travel around Australia, it doesn’t take long to start arguing!
If you want to really test the waters before you set off on your big adventure perhaps you should test your marriage by trying to assist your partner in reversing a van into a tight caravan site and not have an argument, IMPOSSIBLE! All jokes aside it’s not easy being around each other every day, all day. You run out of things to talk about, it’s stressful at times especially when he’s driving and I’m trying to navigate and the kids a being lunatics in the back seat.
But on the positive side, we think travelling around Australia has helped us to become more patient with each other 😉
Can you handle being around your children ALL DAY?
We all love our children but there are times where I think if I hear Mummy one more time my ears will drop off. For a lot of parents, they struggle in the first few months being around their children all day.
It would be a huge adjustment for parents to go from full-time work to be a full-time teacher over night. There will be a lot of patience involved in the transition. Remembering your kids will need time to adjust to schooling on the road as well.
For us, I found it really easy as I was a stay at home mum, sure it had its moments trying to get the girls to sleep in the van but generally it was pretty good. Matt, on the other hand, took a little time to get used to them being around him all day. Being a parent requires a lot of patience but being a travelling parent means there is barely any down time.
Can you be a parent and a teacher to your children?
A lot of travelling families struggle with the schooling on the road. Not only is it hard to be a parent and a teacher but schooling can slow your travels down. Travelling is a fantastic experience for kids to learn so much from but when it comes to hitting the books, most kids won’t want to do it. Finding the perfect travel/school life takes time.
Can you live away from all your friends and family for a long period of time?
As crazy as it sounds but travelling can really be lonely at times. Sure you meet some amazing people that you get to connect with. But generally those connections are for a few days and then you both hit the road again.
When you’re travelling you have so many great experiences that you want to share, but your friends and family aren’t there. I wouldn’t say we get homesick but we definitely get “family sick”. The girls really miss their grandparents. We are lucky in this day and age to have so many ways we can connect with family back home.
We love living in our caravan and we have been lucky enough to sit in one place and work for a few months. But packing your life up or in some cases, selling everything to travel around Australia is a struggle for some families. We share a lot of our adventure with our followers, but some days we just don’t want to share the ‘bad days’.
We would love all families to travel with their children. Just remember you don’t have to do a whole lap in one go to enjoy this country. Short and sweet trips might be awesome for your family.