When we first made the decision to sell everything and do the big lap of Australia, we had so many things to consider, pets being one of the most obvious. We wondered about travelling Australia with a dog and if it would be possible to take our mate with us.
Our dog, Yoshi is a Kelpie x Koolie, who happens to think he is human, and about the size of a maltese terrier. I know this because he has been know to try and curl up on the lap of his unsuspecting parents, and believes that whatever is cooked for everyone else should also be on his menu.
So, we couldn’t let Yoshi in on the fact that he’s really a dog, that would have broken his heart, the only solution was to bring him along with us of course!
Our cat, lives with my brother and sister in law and their children, and I’ll be seeing him for the first time in 5 months soon, and upon my return I expect to be utterly ignored for the first 24 hours so he can prove to me how much he resents me for leaving him, and how much he loves his new mum (my sister in law), but I know I’ll win out in the end, he loves his mum and knows she feels guilty for leaving him, but she also knows he’s in safe hands (thanks Jo).
So, back to travelling Australia with a dog. Let’s take a look at how that works for us, and hopefully answer any questions you have.
I remember reading the travel blogs of other people before we hit the road. I could see they were travelling with dogs, but they didn’t give specifics of HOW they were making it work. I wondered about the ins and outs of having a dog with you every day.
Where do we leave the dog while we do short activities?
We are really lucky that Yoshi is a very well behaved boy who listens to instructions and is quite happy to sit and wait for us wherever it is he needs to be. When we do small trips, to the shops or into attractions that don’t take long to see, then we generally put him on a lead and leave him tied somewhere safe with a bowl of water and dog food. Sometimes that means tying him to the car, sometimes that means a nice shady spot out the front of side of the venue. It’s always somewhere safe and he knows when we tell him to “be a good boy we’ll be back” that his time siting there waiting for us will be short lived.
TIP: Now we’re on the road full time, we rarely go into big shopping centres or other retail centres, purely because we have little need for what they offer and such limited space, that retail therapy isn’t an option. We also shop once a week for supplies, so generally we’ll visit the grocery store and that will be it. I find that before we were on the road, we were a lot more busy with things like shopping and it would have been hard to always have a dog with us, now, our lifestyle looks much different, and we’re generally out exploring nature, and he’s right along beside us.
Where do we leave the dog for longer activities?
Sometimes there are activities we want to do that require us to be out and about for the entire day. Obviously for extended periods of time, it’s not suitable to leave him tied up for long periods. There are a few options we’ve used when wanting to explore which include the following:
Kennels: While we don’t like kenneling Yoshi, because we know he misses us, but sometimes there’s just no other option, and at least we have peace of mind knowing he’s safe. We’ve written before about how to find a good kennel for your dog, and luckily we’ve had a couple of options to choose from when we’ve needed to leave him overnight and we’ve always gone with our instinct on good places to leave him. If you free camp a lot like us, then kenneling can be more expensive than your own accommodation, in fact, in our 3 months in Tasmania, we spent more on boarding for Yoshi than we did on our own accommodation. Be flexible, be sensible and know that it’s going to be part of your travel expenses. We see it as a small price to pay for having him with us to share the journey.
Exchange Pet Sitting: When we were camped near Freycinet National Park in Tasmania, we were so close and yet so far. We knew we couldn’t go into the National Park with Yoshi, and yet, we knew that it was probably the only chance we’d get to see Wineglass Bay during our Tassie trip. Luckily for us, a lovely couple offered to watch Yoshi for a few hours so we could do the trek to the Wineglass Bay lookout. In return for their kindness, Matt gave them both a haircut, so it was a lovely way to say thanks for their kindness. We’ve had other offers too, to watch him for us, and would do the same for other travellers if the need arises. We’ve also stayed at private low-cost camps, where there weren’t many people around and they’ve let us leave him at the van for a few hours so we could explore. Old Mac’s Farm near Launceston in Tassie was a great example of this.
Other Options For People Travelling With Dogs
Vets: Quite often you’ll be able to get in touch with vets in the area who often allow you to leave your pet for a short term boarding visit if there’s no other options in the area. We haven’t done this with Yoshi, but we know of other travellers who have done so, it’s definitely worth making a phone call if there’s vets in the area and you have no other options available for pet sitting.
Gumtree: Use Gumtree to do a search for people who offer pet sitting in the region you’re visiting. In some areas you’ll find pet sitters that will take care of your animals in their own home, just like a private boarding kennel option. As always, go with your gut feelings on this, but it’s worth a try.
Some other Things To Be Mindful Of
You’ll need to make sure you’re dog’s vaccinations are up to date in order to kennel them, and you also will need to be aware of any quarantine requirements (I think this really only applies to Tasmania which requires they have their Hydatid Tapeworm tablets within 14 days of visiting. Also, we advise keeping a collar and tag on your dog that has your mobile phone number on it. Microchip details are only valid in the state of registration for your animal as far as we’re aware, which means if you lose your dog, when it’s found, it might not be as easy to reunite them with you as it would be at home.
The Truth About Travelling Australia With A Dog
The real truth is, that while we wouldn’t change travelling with our dog at all, it does mean we need to be flexible and mindful of our choices. The honesty of the situation is that we do sometimes have to miss out on some National Parks or Conservation areas that don’t allow dogs, and while there’s an ever growing number of caravan parks and free camp sites that allow dogs to stay, it does sometimes limit our options. If you decide to travel with your pet, you need to be OK with the fact that you might need to re-arrange entire sections of your travels in order to accommodate them. We are on an open ended trip, so we have time and no real schedule. If you’re on a shorter trip, with limited time, it might be much harder to work around having your dog with you.
When we decided to do a cruise on the Arthur River for example, we left Yoshi in a kennel that meant we travelled an extra 80km’s or so to come back and get him. But the cruise was definitely worth it, and was something we didn’t want to miss out on. We wouldn’t change having our boy with us, he’s a part of our family and he’s relatively easy to travel with, he loves exploring, and he’s a really big fetch addict who makes us lots of new friends no matter where we are, with his big, brown puppy dog eyes sooking at everyone within reach to ppplllleeeeaasssseeeee throw his stick.
If you have ANY questions about travelling with your dog, then please drop us a line, or ask in the comments below……
Most people planning to travel long term worry about whether a camper trailer or caravan is best for travelling Australia
? Some people will choose a motorhome, but if you’re going to be towing your home behind you, possibly the biggest consideration should be given to the type of car you’ll be towing with, as well as maintenance and preparation for keeping that car in great condition and suitable for long term travel.
Car Preparation Before You Leave for a Lap of Australia
First things first, please be sure the car you have is a suitable car for towing your caravan or camper. Having a car that is under-rated for the van or camper you are towing is not only illegal, it is also extremely dangerous and happens regularly unfortunately. Once you have the car sorted, here’s some tips before you hit the road for long term family travel.
- Be sure to do a full service on your vehicle, this includes changing your oil, fuel and air filters, and any gear box and transmission fluids. It’s great to do them all before you head off so you’ll know for certain when they are all due again.
- Check all drive belts or other belts and change them if necessary, if possible take spares, there’s nothing worse than a broken belt and no supplies close by, they are relatively cheap.
- Tyres are really important to ensure safety, especially when driving long distances. If you’re due for a change of tyres, it’s probably best just to replace them all around the vehicle.
- Wheel bearings are also something to get checked before you head off. If you put your car into a mechanic to get a full service before you leave, ask them to check for you.
- It’s vital that your brakes are in great working order when you’re towing so be sure to make sure you’re brakes are in great working order, if in doubt replace what might need replacing when on the road anyway.
Car Maintenance Tips While Travelling Long Term
Keeping your car healthy during long term travel ins’t too much of a hassle as long as you take the time to keep essential tasks done.
- Check water levels and oil on a regular basis. Yes this sounds simple enough, but forgetting these things can be disastrous especially if you’re in a remote area.
- Do regular oil changes. For some cars, especially if they are under the stress of towing will be best suited to changing oil more regularly than otherwise recommended by manufacturers. Many people swear by changing oil every 5,000 or 10,000 kms minimum. It’s not a hard job to do on the road, but please be sure to dispose of oil wastage responsibly and take it to an allocated waste station.
- Upgrading tyres on the road will be a necessity if you’re travelling long term. Our tyres were fine when we left, but we’re now shopping for new ones. We’re looking at BF Goodrich tyres at tyresales.com.au which is a great website to save money on what can be a pretty big expense.
- Take some spare parts with you to avoid disaster. We try our best to carry essential belts, wheel bearings, and spare filters with us. These things can all be maintained on the road, and save us needing to go to a mechanic and wait for parts to be ordered.
Most of all, just stay safe, use common sense, treat your vehicle kindly, after all, it’s what keeps you moving and on the road. Major vehicle issues can push people off the road for quite some time, so err on the side of caution and being that little bit extra careful and you should enjoy many long days, weeks, months or years travelling Australia on your big lap.
One of the big considerations when you decide to travel, especially if you aim to free camp, is having showers and staying clean. Gone will be the days of unlimited streaming hot water, and long hot baths, but it’s really just a case of being practical, thrifty and sensible and once you find your groove it’s not too hard at all. We get lots of emails asking about shower set ups for free camping and travelling on long term family holidays, so here’s some starting pointers.
Options for keeping clean quickly while travelling?
Quick and Easy Travel Hygiene
Let’s get honest here, some days it’s just not possible to have a full wash. It may be too cold, you may be driving all day and not arrive to camp until late, or there’s just such limited water having fresh drinking water is more important. Never fear, you can always freshen up if you carry 2 important items:
1: Baby wipes
2: Hand Sanitiser – The water-free kind.
Baby wipes are great for an all over clean up, or just the vital areas. Hand Sanitiser allows you to ensure your hands are clean and hygienic, so a combination of these works great for a light freshen up.
Water Saving Travel Bath
It’s surprising how effective a sponge bath can be. This is a common option for campers and travellers when there isn’t another option.
A small bucket or large bowl can be filled with warm water and a face washer or cloth is all you need to get a thorough clean. For travelling families who need a little privacy a shower tent is a great idea.
Another handy thing to know is that using sensitive skin, soap free options will still clean you but you don’t have to worry about the skin-drying soap residue if you don’t have running water to rinse with.
Camp Showers while Travelling
The ultimate in shower options for Travellers and campers is to imitate a “real” shower as closely as possible, and this is where camp showers come in.
There’s several levels of luxury and lots of options available, so here goes:
Solar Shower Bags For Campers
This option is a tried and true remedy for accessing heated shower water when camping. Black rubber bags are laid in the sun for a natural heating method. It’s best suited to when you are staying more than one night as the water bladder will need to lay in the sun for the day. Similarly it’s better for warm regions as the bags won’t heat properly on cold, overcast, rainy days.
12 Volt Shower & Heat Your Own Water
Of all travelling families we’ve spoken to, this option is probably one of the most common options for showering while camping. It’s simply the use of a portable 12 volt shower pump.
Heat up some water, over the camp fire is a great option for saving gas and making the most of the fire, other than that, just on the gas stove will do.
Mix the hot water into a bucket with some cool water until it’s the right temperature and then use this and the portable shower to wash.
12 Volt showers are mostly hooked up to a battery, either the car, or a spare to run the shower pump which is immersed in the bucket of warm water.
Complete Hot Water Units.
For those who don’t want to worry about having to pre-heat water, the use of a hot water service offers even more convenience. You’ll still need a bucket of water, but instead of having to preheat, the 12 volt shower runs as part of the hot water service, which has an adjustable temperature gauge on it. Brands such as Coleman hot water on demand, and Companion Aquacube are popular choices.
Top Tips for Camp Showers
The vital ingredient for this type of shower is the shower tent. These range from pop-up kinds to more sturdy dual ensuite options. Regardless of which one you purchase, it will provide welcome privacy for both a shower, and if you carry one, a portable toilet.
It’s a great idea to put some foat matting at the bottom of your shower tent to keep your feet clean and allow the water to run away. This type of matting is available at camping and discount stores.
When camped near a clean power supply such as a river or lake, this will allow you to use available water supplies instead of water that’s better saved for drinking and cooking. If you can make out in our photo here, we’ve got 3 pots of water on the fire to save on the gas so we could have enough hot water to wash everyone. It took a few rounds of water, but the water from the lake was fresh and beautiful, and it was a lovely warm day, perfect for a good clean up for the kids.
What tips do you have for camp showers while travelling?
It was just a regular phone call to our insurance company.
“Hi, I’d like to update my payment details for our insurance please.”
A “no worries” and tap, tap of the keyboard, followed by more questions and a few more minutes of tapping, and our records were updated.
“I notice you have most of your insurances with us, can I help you with home and contents?”
A typical question when dealing with insurance companies for sure, I don’t resent them for it, they upsell, the same as banks, the same as McDonald’s, we’re targeted for the upsell by all companies good at their marketing. It’s easier to retain and upsell then it is to gain new customers, my marketing background knows this.
What amuses me is the conversation that occurs after I answer them. I guess, it’s because our answer isn’t a very typical one.
“No, we don’t have home and contents, we’re travelling Australia with our car and van, so you have us fully covered.”
“Oh wow, how lucky, I wish I could do that. It must be a pretty amazing thing to do how lucky.”
That response isn’t an unusual one, because truly for most people they perceive our life to be a lucky one. I used to just give a laugh of approval, and agree with them, but today I chose to answer this lady differently.
“You know, you could do that, we’re not lucky, we just jumped feet first into a deep pit of fear, and I guess it helps to be a little crazy.” She giggled, sounding nervously unconvinced.
I went on to explain to her that our choice to live on the road full time, was a choice. There is sacrifice involved, and life still continues on, it just looks a bit different. There’s still bills to pay, things to keep insured, school work for the kids to do, responsibilities to uphold and work to be done. Those things have not changed in our lives.
Choosing to live on the road full time is not like a holiday. While it is the most amazing thing we’ve ever done, it’s a lifestyle choice, the same as living in the country, in the city, in an apartment or a gigantic house, owning one car or two, having one parent stay at home or both parents working. Everything we do is a choice, and this one is ours.
“Wow, really, that’s amazing.”
It is amazing.
What is more amazing is, that if you are reading this and wondering if you could possibly travel Australia long term, I want you to know this.
YES, YOU CAN TRAVEL AUSTRALIA!
It takes preparation, it takes a whole lot of soul searching, sacrifice, fear wrangling and craziness, but I can tell you with unwavering certainty, that all those difficult things to face are worth the results.
The main thing stopping you from travelling long term, even if it’s just doing a lap for a few months is you.
Confronting I know, but you are the only thing standing in your own way.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if we can do it, then you can do it too.
It takes planning, preparation, and like all awesome goals, you have to want it so badly that you’re willing to do what you need to do to achieve it.
Go, start planning…
Make your own luck!
March saw us deep within the beauty that is Tasmania. Wrapped in her glorious green forest, and calmed by her turquoise blue waters. The worst thing about acknowledging another month has passed is facing the reality that we are closer to leaving this stunning, soul inspiring island.
There’s a backlog of posts to publish, both from our journey to get here, and our explorations while we are here, so we are currently sitting for a few days at a powered campsite to relax, and catch up.
I figured the easiest way to stay up to date of what we’re doing and where we’ve been is to write a monthly reflection of our travels, so, this being the first one I’m going to focus right back from the start of our full-time travel journey and then follow on each month from now on:
Adventures Travelling Australia With Kids:
What it feels like to finally hit the road on our big Australian family holiday at last.
Week one on the road free camping at Bulahdelah NSW.
Heading toward Melbourne – Bulahdelah to Gunning free camping.
Staying at Jugiong free camping on the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne.
Sailing the Spirit of Tasmania with Kids (& the dog).
We tried the beautiful local produce at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm & Anvers Chocolates.
We stayed in beautiful Stanley Accommodation, and at the Country Club near Launceston.
We explored the intensely inspiring Port Arthur, and the kids did great activities.
We also were brave enough to face the Port Arthur ghost tour.
What’s coming up for April?
Well, we’ve really got the whole of Tasmania to uncover for you. From the breathtaking Cataract Gorge in Launceston, to the postcard worthy Bay of Fires, the most southern tip of Australia and everything in between. Over the next month, or two we’ll be uncovering the beauty of Tasmania and the best things to head out and explore with kids when you visit. One of my favourite experiences this month was the “Her Story” tour at the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart, so I’ll be sharing that with you soon too.
If I had to describe Tasmania in one word, as cliche as it might sound, then AMAZING is that word. I can’t wait to bring you more of our travel stories.
Where have you been in March?
Even now, as I write this to you all, it seems surreal.
Years of discussion, hard work, hard decisions, uncertainty, guilt and struggles both mentally and financially have taken their toll.
I truthfully can’t remember the first moment we decided we were really going to go on the biggest ever holiday with kids and tour Australia full time, it was something we’d always said we wanted to do. What we didn’t realise is just how difficult the journey to get to this point would be.
What we did realise though, was that we were on the way to finding our happiness, and yet didn’t feel happy. Things felt hard, and difficult, we were waiting for things to be right, and easy, and that just wasn’t going to happen.
Then, when Matt got sick, we realised the waiting had to be over, and we needed to be present in the moment and force our dreams to come true. Our dream of travelling full time has been a tough one to achieve, but, it taught us the most important lesson we’ve ever learned:
Dreams are hard to achieve, but it makes achieving them feel even more amazing
So, instead of waiting until we had the perfect gear, and the perfect finances in the bank, and the perfect work done to the car, we put all our effort into doing what we could with the time and money we had, to be prepared enough. “Perfection” is the killer of dreams, “enough” is a word that will set you free. So we have been quiet, we haven’t been blogging much, or on social media pretty much at all, but we’ve been busier than we’ve ever been in our lives, and here’s why:
A few “all nighters” and we stopped procrastinating, got done what we needed to, and here it is… the only picture I have of us driving off to our new lives, snapped by my sister in law.
At 11pm on January 20, 2014, we rolled out of my brother and sister in law’s driveway near Dubbo. Waved them goodbye, along with my 2 nieces and nephew, and drove off into the wilderness to live our new nomadic lives. I would be lying if I said I was tear free, I couldn’t help but let a few tears flow, we’d been living with them for around 8 months while Matt was working and as chaotic as it was having 2 families living on top of each other, we’d all survived it pretty well and had a rhythm, even if it was a chaotic one. We’ll be forever grateful to them for everything they’ve done to help us achieve our dream.
We arrived at Mendooran, to the free campsite there, which is a beautiful camp ground with flush toilets and cold showers with lots of space and beautiful open skies, set up our van for the first “official” night on the road, and settled in to take in everything that we’d experienced on the path to that moment. Seeing as we arrived so late, we were happy to figure out that the Swan is able to be put up while still hitched to the car, and it doesn’t take long to set up either. Check out the picture below, it took my tears away and brought a smile to my face.
So there you have it, we’re one the road. We’re full time nomads. No more short or medium trips, no more real home base to return to, this is it, we’ve got everything with us we need to get by. We feel excited, vulnerable, and no matter what happens throughout our journey, we all feel proud of sticking to our dreams and getting this far.
Look out Tasmania, we’re on our way……..