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!
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……..
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.
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.