Can I please tell you, right from the start, how pleased I am to see you!
It’s not that 2013 was a particularly bad year, however, it didn’t really go to plan. A year not going to plan isn’t unusual of course, I’m sure it’s true for most people that their yearly expectations are often a great distance away from their yearly reality!
The thing is, 2013 threw us plenty of challenges we didn’t need. I can proudly write this today and say that we survived each and every one of those challenges and we learned important lessons in the process which is always a good thing!
This year however we say goodbye 2013 leaving so much behind us now, and those challenges we’ve faced mean the future is shining brighter than ever before.
We are ready,
We are excited,
We are grateful,
We are living our dream in 2014!
When Dreams Become Reality & Some Hard Truths.
In a couple of weeks we will be living full-time on the road and sharing our journey and all the amazing things we uncover with our readers. We will be exploring Australia with our kids and our kelpie by our side.
Our dreams, the ones we’ve spoken of so often over the last couple of years, are finally coming true. In less than two weeks, we’ll be driving away from my brothers’ house where we’ve been staying for the last few months, and we’ll be truly nomadic. Living on the road, travelling Australia stopping wherever we feel the desire to, or wherever work takes us.
But, we’ve learned so many lessons on our journey to “living the dream”.
We’ve learned that dreams are hard work. They are possible to achieve, but, most dreams, if they are worth achieving will take A LOT of hard work, they won’t magically happen just because you want them to, you really need to keep focused and keep moving forward.
Following your dreams means sacrifice. It would be nice to think that you can have everything in life, but the hard truth is, that’s just not possible. In order to achieve our dream to travel nomadically, we had to sacrifice many things, some of which are a bigger struggle than others. We sold our business at a loss, left behind friends and family, we struggle with the parenting guilt of perhaps not doing the right thing by our kids taking them away from their friends. We’re sacrificing building certain types of careers, or buying a house. The reality of it is though, when we looked closely at what we really wanted out of life, sacrificing those things was much easier to do than missing out on our dream.
Achieving your dreams is scary. We joke all the time with people who ask us about what we’re doing with our travels, that it takes a crazy person to be willing to sell or give away most of what they own to drag three kids and a dog around Australia. We’ve been told many times “Oh I wish we could do that.” The truth is, that anyone could travel Australia, but it’s a bloody scary thing to do. It’s not easy to go against the grain and do something your heart longs to do, when it seems to fly in the face of what everyone else considers responsible. It’s scary and you doubt yourself regularly, but, we still wouldn’t stop moving forward, we’re sure it’s the right decision for us and our family.
Hiccups will get in the road of your dream. Matt got sick last year. After a stack of tests, nothing came back concrete and that was almost more worrying than him being sick in the first place. The great news is, that he’s fine, and we’re pretty sure he’ll be fine for a long time to come. We also ended up much worse off financially than we anticipated. That wasn’t going to stop us however. We had decided even if we didn’t end up being able to afford a caravan, we would just take our tent. Things worked out wonderfully and we have our van, Matt is well, and we just took the hiccups as we were confronted by them and took it one step at a time.
A support network is invaluable. As hard as we’ve worked to get to where we are, there have been moments that having a support network has helped us very much. You don’t need a huge support network, but it definitely helps having people in your corner, encouraging you to fight hard for what you want.
Our Biggest Lesson
You must live your life for the now, while working towards your dreams. Don’t let your own self stand in the way of achieving your dream. It won’t be easy, we can almost promise you that, but it will be worth it.
We’re looking really forward to 2014, the year where all our hard work and struggle sees us setting off on our adventure with our children and our dog, with our car and our van, and the basics we need and venturing around amazing landscapes and communities and meeting amazing, everyday people as they keep our country ticking over.
We’ll talk more about how we’ve achieved our dream, what we’re travelling with, what we do and don’t need, what we do and don’t like, and what you can do to achieve your family travel dreams, as we blog this year. We hope to bring you useful info, and inspire you to live your dreams as a family, whatever they are.
Happy New Year from our family to yours, wishing you an amazing year!
Matt, Loreena & Kids.
The last time I spoke to you personally about what has been happening on our journey to travel Australia with kids, I shared the difficult reality that our plan to have no plan certainly hadn’t gone to plan! We’re still waiting for test results to come back for Matt, although most nasties have been ruled out, so that is a huge relief of sorts, but I also have some other wonderful news to report:
We’re one step closer and I want to show you what dreams look like:
I know that my dream, and your dream won’t look exactly the same, but I can’t share my feeling any better than showing you the what the defining moment of knowing this adventure was all real looked like for me.
Sure we’d moved, sold our stuff, survived the chaos of 9 people living in one house together (huge thanks to my brother and his wife for this one),
Yet, this moment I’m sharing with you now, this was the real first view that everything we’d given up felt worth it, that what we’d set out to achieve was really going to happen, that one very important step closer to our dream happening and things were falling into place. I looked in the rear vision mirror and I could clearly see our new home tagging along behind us 🙂
WE ARE THE PROUD OWNERS OF A JAYCO SWAN OUTBACK!!
Sure, she’s not the latest, flashiest model, but she’s all ours, to live in, to enjoy and to tow behind us and to become our home as we explore this amazing country that is Australia.
We chose to go a Jayco outback camper mostly because we knew that a full van would be a little bit too restrictive for what we wanted to do as well as costing more to tow. We also knew that a flip top camper trailer, while being slightly more “offroad” than the Swan, wouldn’t afford us the little bit of luxury that this camper will.
I’ll give you a tour soon, but each end pops out to a queen bed one end (the kids are sharing that side) and a double bed the other end. There’s a dinette with lounge chairs and table, and a larger U-shaped lounge, as well as a fridge, water tank and sink, gas cooktop and griller, a microwave (we’ll probably remove that for added storage space, and lots of cupboards and storage that means all our kitchen gear etc can stay set up and we won’t have to unpack and pack quite as much as we would in a full canvas camper.
It has a kitchen side awning which is great for shade and privacy on the kitchen side of the camper, and an awning with full annex on the door side of the camper. It runs off 12 volt or 240volt, and we’ll be hooking up some solar panels to keep us powered when we’re bush camping.
So, that my dear wanderlusters is what has us excited at this very moment.
If you’re travelling Australia or planning to, what are you using for accommodation? Got any tips for us on owning the Jayco? Please comment below….
It’s confession time. I’ve been known to joke that I check I have my phone on me before I check where my kids are, and I’m ashamed to say, it’s not an over-exaggeration. Luckily my kids are old enough to know not to wander far, but the fact they’ve seen me on more than one occasion have a borderline panic attack when I misplaced my phone for a millisecond probably isn’t a good example for how to use technology responsibly in our lives.
I’m aware of how technology affects our lives. I try to make a conscious effort to lower my phone when answering their questions, and look them in the eye, but here’s the horrible truth:
Perhaps even more disturbingly, when I look around the living room of an evening, the television is on, the adults are nursing iPhones, and the kids a range of iPods and iPads, I wonder if we’ve got things horribly wrong.
When it comes to your own travel vs technology, are your family holidays affected?
I’m not alone in thinking even family travel is held at ransom by tech obsession. Tourism and Events Queensland found in a recent survey that 80% of people admitted to texting while also talking to someone else, 53% of respondents admit to using their phone on the toilet, I’m guilty on both these counts as are most people I know. Somehow though, I don’t think my husband would be too happy if I was one of the 48% of respondents who admitted to their smartphone interrupting them during sex. Maintaining a sex life with three children is hard enough so our phones can bow out of that one.
When news hit my inbox this morning that the Sunshine Coast is aiming to become the world’s first destination to combat smartphone dependency by introducing phone free zones, it caught my attention. As a blogger caught up in the world of internet and social media, I’m guilty as charged for Instagramming my food, interrupting the kid’s enjoyment of a destination in order to capture the best photos and videos, and I can say I’m with the 65% of people who said they could never leave their phone for 24 hours.
My husband is forever nagging me that I’m too busy looking at my phone to see all the awesome scenery we drive through on our road trips, so I guess that adds me to the 48% of people who have argued with their partner over smartphone usage.
The Sunshine Coast is telling us, in order to really enjoy our lives; we must make time to consciously switch off. Talk to our partners and our friends, our children and loved ones with undivided attention. Stop and look around, breathe in the beauty of life that surrounds us, without being tempted to check our emails or post photos online.
British technology expert, Dr. Tom Chatfield says ‘this doesn’t mean that technology is something bad, or toxic, that we ought to try and give up. A better way of thinking about it is that we want to be gourmets of technology and if we love it and want to make the most of its wonderful possibilities, we should pick and choose and select and not just stuff our faces with it continually.’
Introducing the Smarter Smartphone Code of Conduct:
- Avoid being a search-it-all. Make the most of the moment and seek out your own special corner of the Sunshine Coast.
- Elbows and phones off the table. Make the most of the moment with great food and company.
- Kiss your phone goodnight. Make the most of your night with a restful night’s sleep or some romance.
- Look before you snap. Make the most of the moment and take in this truly breathtaking place.
- Take a phone-free day. Make the most of the moment and experience nature without distractions.
- Talk now, text later. Make the most of the moment and enjoy this precious time together.
- Taste before you upload. Make the most of the moment and savour every mouthful.
While it’s likely I’ll struggle to go phone-free, perhaps a trip to the Sunshine Coast is in order to help me, after all I could think of worse ways to try and combat tech addiction. The most important part of campaigns like this is the fact they make us think, they make us aware and mindful. I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I’m tired. Tired of being constantly connected, tired of being ignored by my children sitting on their devices, and I can’t complain about their behaviour when it’s a mirror of my own. It’s time to take some tech time-out, join me if you dare.
The planning stage for a trip around Australia requires a whole lot of decisions to be made. We’ve written before about how to choose the best car to travel Australia and we wrote this basic guide to planning a big lap of Australia for those who weren’t sure where to start, so now, we thought it was time to share with you some of the choices and modifications we’ve done, starting with our vehicle.
We chose to travel in a Nissan Patrol. A big reason for this was the space and the off road ability, as well as the dual fuel tanks and tow capacity. We knew before we purchased our car, that one of our ideal modifications was to fit a rear drawer system.
There are many options on the market for rear drawers, with everything for just fitting a basic fridge slide, to systems that contain water tanks, fridge slides and drawers. We went with the latter.
Things to consider when choosing a drawer and slide system for your vehicle:
Weight is a really important factor: Regardless of the specific weight specifications of your vehicle, the more weight you add, the bigger you can expect your fuel bill to be, and fuel is one of the biggest expenses of touring the country, so anything that keeps the cost down is a bonus. Aluminium units are ideal, some use wood, and that’s ok too, you just need to think about what it is you’re purchasing.
Self install vs professional install: Some brands give you the option to deliver the product flat packed and you then do all the assembly and fit out yourself. If you’re handy with the tools this can be a good way to go, and save you some money. Keep in mind the extra time and your skillset and weigh up these options.
Your vehicle type: Depending on your vehicle, you’ll have a range of options available to you. We had several options for the Patrol, although some less popular models may have less options available. For a basic fridge slide, most cars will be able to have this feature installed.
Second Hand Purchasing: We scored a bargain when we purchased our fit out. We have a triple drawer system with fridge slide, and a 60 litre water tank with 12 volt pump, and a half cargo barrier so we can load it up and things won’t go flying into the front of the car. I believe it would have cost close to $3000 installed. We picked it up for $1900 from ebay and it was in perfect condition. $80 delivery fee from QLD to our door, and a few hours install and it’s one of the best choices we’ve made.
Here’s our guide to the Nissan Patrol, rear drawer system and water tank install. Our rear drawer and water tank system – It arrived wrapped in plastic complete with instructions. Rain was approaching and it was afternoon when it arrived, but we figured it wouldn’t take too long so we layed it all out with a tarp on hand just in case and went about installing it.
First Step: Remove the rear seats for the Patrol, then install the half cargo barrier.
Second Step: Was to install the water tank which is the silver you’ll see in the next photo after this one. Then install the bottom plate and attach to the floor of the car where the seats normally anchor. The drawers are then built up on top of this.
Up Next: Install the sides and the fridge slide components.
In go the drawers, and the shelf for the top:
And we’re done! By this time we’d put a gazebo up to protect us from a few showers, and it was super dark and we were working by torch light, but even though we underestimated the time it would take, it was a relatively easy job and the finished product looks great.
Walking away from a life that provides a fair amount of security and familiarity so you can travel Australia seems crazy to so many people that we meet. Heck, it seems crazy to us, and we’re the ones who have done it!
But, what is really crazy is waiting around for happiness.
Our big plan: To have no plan. We’ve been very successful in not planning, but not so successful at being quite where we wanted to be.
You see, we’ve still been waiting for the right time to create our happy life, when instead, we should be living by our own mantra of just doing it anyway. Your goals don’t need to be realised perfectly, they just need to be realised.
We promised you this site would be all about not only family holidays, but the truth about what it’s like to embark on long term travel around Australia with kids too, and so, it’s time we share with you a bit about what’s happened since the day we drove out of our home town.
If you take a look at the photo below, you’ll notice that our trailer full of stuff that was supposed to drive off into the sunset towed behind our vehicle as we did a final lap of our home town is actually propped onto another trailer with broken leaf springs. Because we didn’t realise the springs were broken until it was fully loaded, and the real estate had just finished doing our outgoing inspection for the new tennants to arrive that afternoon, we had no choice but to hire another trailer to carry our broken trailer and excess gear all the way on our seven hour trip.
This issue ended up costing us over a thousand dollars in extra diesel and trailer hire fees, not to mention 2 days of almost straight driving that left us very worn out in order to get our stuff there, then turn around and drive back to return the hire trailer as they didn’t have one way drop off points.
Prior to all this trailer excitement, our business sale had caused a lot of stress, and indeed all the loose ends have still not been tied up, six months later, it wasn’t something we were prepared for, or happy about. In short, we let it get to us and take the shine off leaving for our big adventure.
For the last few months, we’ve struggled a bit to take stock of what we’ve been through and how we came out the other side of it.
- We were left financially worse off than we had anticipated, exhausted from the humungous task of packing, selling and moving what was left by ourselves with three children in tow.
- We had no more than a tent and the few belongings and the camp gear we’d kept.
- We felt we’d failed somehow as things hadn’t gone to plan.
- We’ve stayed with family longer than we anticipated as Matt was able to get work and re-skill at my brother’s workshop (this is both a great thing, and a frustrating thing as it’s helped us re-group, but it means we’ve been restricted due to his work hours).
Then this happened:
Matt got sick.
There’s nothing like illness to make you re-assess what you’re doing and how effectively you’ve been working toward your goals.
The universe has given us a bit of a kick up the backside and we’ve had to make some important and tough decisions.
He’s undergoing a huge range of tests at the moment, and we’re keeping everything crossed that it all comes back clear, or at least as something minor that will be easily fixed.
It made us remember:
- We didn’t set off on this adventure to do it in a new caravan, with every gadget and device known to mankind.
- We didn’t sell everything off just to sit dormant waiting for the perfect moment to leave.
- We didn’t do this for anyone else but ourselves and our children and that is all that matters.
- Life is too short and any of us could be taken at any time, the best moment to achieve our dreams is now, because there’s no promise of any moment other than that.
The Secret to Happiness NOW:
- Be brave and trust that everything is as it should be – We’ve been brave to get to this point, but we’re at the point now that we just need to jump into the deep water and trust in ourselves to stay afloat.
- Acknowledge that perfection isn’t important – So what that we don’t have the van we wanted, nor do we have some of the gear we’d aimed for, none of htat is important. What is important is that we utilise what we do have and we keep working towards our goals anyway. We’re blessed to be in the position that we are, and it would be such a waste to sacrifice everything we have until this point only to back off just at the edge of success.
- Love each other and be crazy – If you aren’t just a little bit (or a lot) crazy, selling up everyting to travel Australia maybe isn’t for you. It really helps to be a bit bonkers when undertaking this journey. The most important thing to remember though, is that it is a journey, getting there takes time, plans are bound to fail, and the best reason to do it is to bond and strengthen your family. So, in light of that, love is the most important thing, and as long as you have each other, all will be fine. I know it sounds cliche, but it works for us.
Just get out there and live your dream. You only live once, and Matt’s illness has reminded us of why we’re doing this in the first place. There’s no time like now, and you’ll never get this moment of your life back once it’s past.
Hope to see you on the road.
A little while ago I wrote a guest post for Cassie over at The Flying Drunken Monkey about how I was feeling with the de-cluttering, selling and major changes that were facing us with our decision to embrace family travel full time around Australia.
I’m reposting the blog post over here, as it’s an important reflection of my thoughts at the time we seriously started to sort through our things and boxes that had been stored away for some time. You can find Cassie’s blog by following the link of her blog name above. Loreena x
Re-published Guest Blog Post:
You know that moment where the biggest dream you dared to dream becomes reality? It’s at that moment that the enormity of what you’ve been dreaming about strikes you hard and fast and takes your breath away. That’s what this moment in our lives feels like. Breathtaking. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad, but definitely breathtaking.
You see, about four years ago we did a three week camping trip from Darwin to Adelaide. We visited icons like Uluru and Kakadu, and when we returned home the itchy feet had set in. Matt tried to convince me the itch would stop, but there was no hope, the urge to travel and explore wasn’t going away no matter how hard we tried. Even the hard work of starting a business, and succeeding, did little to fulfill us, and as I went about my every day life, it was the wide open spaces of Australia that captured my imagination and heart.
So a year or so ago we decided it would be a great idea to pack up everything we owned into a shipping container and head off to travel Australia with our 3 kids.
Then, as our dreams got closer within reach, we figured why pack everything up, let’s just sell it all and be totally free of “stuff”.
It sounds like a fun proposition when you first talk about it. Removing all the stuff from your life. Thoughts ran through my mind of how liberating and freeing it would be to be rid of all the things we’d hoarded and collected over the years. Of the junk we’d moved from house to house in boxes that had never really been unpacked properly. To be free of the toys that scatter from one end of the house to the other, and the old university texts that will never be opened by me again and yet I can’t bring myself to part with, and a “Men’s Shed” full of things Matt might use one day.
So what does it really feel like to pack up your life for permanent family travel?
We were talking about this in the car tonight on the way home. Selling your life feels permanent. It feels like we’re breaking up with our old selves. As you de-clutter and sort through the entire contents of your life, not only do you question your life journey to this very moment in time, you revive old scars and heal them all over again. Revisit your old self and follow your journey to now, you question exactly where your life has been, and where it may be going.
Every photograph, every old highschool report, every memory of childhood friends. Envelopes containing the first haircut for each child, we didn’t even know we had kept, discovered in boxes. Old cards, love letters, sorry letters, kids artwork, holiday mementos, funeral booklets of loved ones, clothing we once loved that no longer fits. The sum of who we are, tucked away in boxes, in cupboards, sorted through and brought to life to remind us of our journey to now.
It took three days of straight sorting just to get through the boxes in our shed. Almost an entire ute load of rubbish has found it’s way to the tip, and what’s left behind are treasures that will be packed away into plastic tubs, one for each of us, that will hold the irreplaceable memories and pieces that define us each, to be kept safe with family.
For those things that aren’t photos, or home videos or important irreplacable mementos, to those things, we say goodbye. Goodbye to our furniture, to the kids swing set and trampoline, to the decorative knick knacks, to the kitchen gadgets, to the excessive amounts of linen and crockery we seem to have collected. Goodbye to everything that isn’t essential to live a simple life, on the road, in our caravan.
Does de-cluttering and selling up our entire lives feel overwhelming? Yes, it does, without a doubt! Do I think that having very little stuff will make our lives much more fulfilling than they ever have been before? Yes, I do.
Whether we live on the road for one year or five, I have no doubt if we are to settle back down we’ll accumulate stuff once again, but this process, has been enlightening to really understand myself, my choices, and to give me the confidence to know that being me, and being us as a family is enough. That our happiness and our bliss is not in the things that surround us, but in our journey together as a family. That the treasures we’ll have stored away in our own boxes of memories are more than enough to know that we were here, we lived, and we were happy.