It seems more than a little ironic that I’m writing this post on Day 13 of our trip. And yes, I’m a bit behind. Hopefully that can be amended, if things from here are a little less crazy.

So, Week One.

Week One was NOT what I expected. Not even a little bit.

In fact, Week One is one I would possibly rather forget. And yet, it’s etched into my mind. And so I try to focus on the glimpses of good amidst the nightmare.

Day One was exciting, but exhausting. It was very surreal. And I decided to celebrate by having four alcoholic beverages in one session – something that hasn’t happened for many, many years. It was fun, but I’m not going to make a habit of it, it’s too expensive and calorie-consuming! Maybe once a month is OK…

Day Two was fairly straightforward and quite relaxing – in hindsight I wish I’d done more, before things went downhill fast. But it was sort of amazing to read a whole book in one day – another thing I’d not done in years.

Day Three was where things went downhill.

I’m guessing that everyone who does this crazy travelling with kids thing, doesn’t do so without fear.

There could be the fear of breaking down in the middle of nowhere. There could be the fear of being in an accident. There could be the fear of losing children (that almost happened to us today eek!! Will save that story for later). There could be an endless list of fears.

My fear was gastro. I HATE vomiting. HATE it. And the thought of dealing with it in a caravan was literally my biggest fear.

Well, it took three days. THREE DAYS!!!!

And it was even worse than I imagined it would be.

Miss 4 felt sick in the morning – ended up vomiting and I’m like oh noooooo, but was hoping it was a once off sort of thing, perhaps from being a bit put out by the change in environment, or from food or water. Anyway, we needed some things from the shops so Luke set off with the big two and I stayed behind with Miss 4.

Then came the poo. And the vomit. And the poo and the vomit. And I was free camping, with no phone signal, no car, no nappies or other supplies. And it turns out that rather than going to the town 20 minutes away, hubby couldn’t get what he needed, so went an hour (each way) away, cruising long getting lunch etc as well, and took FIVE HOURS to get back. And it was the peak of the illness. Poor Miss 4 was struggling to make it to the toilet, too – so I ended up with 6 or so sets of soiled pants. After the first 3, I decided to get creative and stuff her undies with toilet paper because that’s all I had at hand. It was terrible. She kept saying it was the worst day ever, and when I tried reassuring her (and myself) that it was just one day and then she would be better, she kept asking when this day would be over. Poor little chicken, it was horrible for both of us.

And it didn’t get better. The next morning she seemed a lot better, but after a little walk out in the sunshine, she faded quickly. She got feverish, and very lethargic, she still wasn’t eating and only having minimal fluids. The next day was the same, and that evening I decided to take her in to the local hospital as I feared dehydration and was a bit concerned that she wasn’t better after three full days. That’s when we learned that norovirus is pretty rampant at the moment and was likely what she had. Uh-oh, that was not the news I wanted to hear, because with us living in such close quarters, I know that meant that it likely wouldn’t stop with her.

And it didn’t.

Two hours after we got home from the hospital – so at 1am – I hear a little voice coming from THE TOP BUNK saying “I just vomited” – and by that, Mister 7 meant he had leaned over the side of the top bunk and emptied the contents of his stomach….from approximately 1.5m up you can imagine the splashback (waaaahhhh). Not. Pretty.

I had sat up in quite a hurry and taken a bowl over to catch the rest. When I turned back towards the bed, Luke had turned as white as a ghost….then proceeded to fall back on the bed and start convulsing!! TOTALLY FREAKED ME OUT!!! So I had that happening at one end of the van, and vomit all over the other end of the van – fun times! It was also FREEZING COLD and we were free camping with no power, so no heater either!

Somehow I found it in me to triage the situation – I told Mister 7 he had to stay put, gave him the bowl and said I needed to help daddy first. Not that I knew how to help besides making sure he was actually OK when he came to. I didn’t even know how to use the satellite phone and so begged him to tell me, in case I needed an ambulance. I think perhaps it was maybe his version of the virus – and not the fact he wanted to get out of more vomit/poo catching and cleaning duty since he’d missed the first lot, too!! Anyway, I made him lie down so I didn’t have to worry about him, and got to dealing with the other end of the caravan. I don’t even like to think about it, really. Copious amounts of paper towel were used in the process.

Then it was Master 7 and I bunkering down for the rest of the night on the couch. Lots of cleaning and comforting, but I must say that in between, he was the most ridiculously cheerful sick person I’ve ever known. In between the vomiting was questions and giggles – I sometimes laughed, and even cracked a “dad joke” – because let’s face it, if you don’t laugh, you cry. And I’d done enough crying already.

When everyone else got up that morning, I insisted on going to a powered site, so we drove into town (this was Day 6, by now) and proceeded to spend $60 on washing and drying clothes, and attempting to decontaminate in order to hopefully save Miss 9.

But it wasn’t to be. Miss 9 succumbed that night, when our little washing machine was rocking the caravan and she felt nauseous. I really felt for her – she’s a bit anxious about gastro, like I am, and was terrified about it. I had been feeding her with charcoal and she seemed to only get mild symptons and we still managed a pretty good night’s sleep, which was a relief!

As Miss 9 had said to me while I was catching her brother’s vomit at 3am and talking about how this had been my biggest fear……”someone once said that whatever your biggest fear is, if it comes true and happens to you, then it makes you not be afraid anymore”…..so, I guess I can now say I’ve conquered my biggest fear. Even when I didn’t think I could. And I just kept reminding myself that surely it could only get better from here!

So on Day 7, we proceeded to head to our next stop. We almost lost our bikes from the back of our caravan, and had to stop for emergency welding repairs (as well as travel with our bikes on our bed inside the van, which is how they’ve continued to be transported), but we pulled into camp at 6:30pm – exhausted!

The drive was actually really interesting at times – we saw wild emus for the first time, which the kids (and I) were super excited about!!! Lots of other animals too, both dead and alive (one road was renamed “Roadkill Road”). And we took our very first daggy “touristy” photo! Ha!

I was going to get everyone to share their highlights and lowlights, but they’re sleeping as I write, and I’m almost ready to join them, so I’ll do that as a sequel to this post!

We are still working on finding some kind of rhythm to our days, and I definitely feel like I haven’t found my feet yet, but I don’t regret it, even after the hell of Week One, and I’m excited for where our adventure takes us!

Foxbar Falls – my sister’s property (and campground still in progress of being built) – is amazing!!! I would have loved to do more explore – there’s lots of tracks and rock scrambling and things to see and do. It was great that we could have a fire every night, right on the waterfront. The playground area was AWESOME – I’m a big fan of nature/upcycled playgrounds. The balancing log and tyre swings were big hits with the kids. And it’s fantastic for bikes. The kids had a great time racing along the runway, and also mountain biking through some of the bushland. I’m looking forward to going back when it’s completed!

Here are some of the highlights from Week One – seeing these is such a good reminder of silver linings and glimmers of light in the darkness!


Day One.

Wow. We actually made it. We are actually doing this.

WE ARE ACTUALLY DOING THIS!!

I admit it still feels entirely surreal. It feels like we are on holidays, and soon we will be going back “home” – but….this IS our home. As the saying goes, “home is where you park it.”

Home for us on day one is Amiens, QLD – my sister’s beautiful farm, which is currently being transformed into a campground (https://www.foxbarfalls.com.au/), with a planned official opening in February 2018.

I would love to write about all the things leading up to this day that I’ve not yet touched on, but I think I’ll save that for another time. Needless to say, there was no time for blogging in the weeks leading up to the 16th August 2017 – our departure date.

So I’ll just skip forward to Day One.

Waking up was the usual routine – coffee (for Luke), breakfast, dishes, and for me there a gloriously divine long, hot shower (including washing AND conditioning my hair). My morning showers are what coffee is to other people – and I knew that was about to change in a lot of ways (no wonder Luke tried to convince me to like coffee). It’s definitely something I will very much miss.

So after the usual morning chaos, plus all the last minute checks (I’m still wondering if I’ve left anything crucial behind!), we set off at around 9:30……and then made what seemed like a million stops. The bank, the pharmacy, repco, a pickup for farm supplies for my brother in law, stopping in to collect a thermomix travel bag, toilet and food stop around lunch time, getting food supplies (and some drinks) when we were close to our destination….and finally arriving around 3:30pm.

Then it was time to get to the campsite itself. This was probably the most interesting part of the day. To get to the campsite, we had to cross a dam, with quite a narrow road. Let me just tell you, I’m so very thankful I was the passenger, not the driver. Luke was a champion, I’ve always felt incredible safe with him driving – he’s cool, calm and in control. It was quite unlucky that on our maiden journey, we had stupidly strong wind gusts – but he took that in his stride. He may not have enjoyed it much, but it was OK. But when we were crossing that dam wall, and I saw him NOT so cool, calm and collected (though still way more than me), I was like “ahhhhh, this has got to be bad if HE is worried!” After all, he’s used to driving machinery the size of houses, in precarious situations. When he actually stopped, I started to think maybe our van was going to end up in the dam on our very first day! But it was all OK – we made it to the campsite and didn’t end up in the dam (note: the campground is still a work in progress, we are test dummies, so these are all the things that will be taken into consideration as they continue works on the site to make it safe and comfortable for campers, so don’t be deterred!).

The campsite is beautiful, right on the water! And setting up just before sunset meant we then got to sit and admire the view, and with a campfire! The kids wanted their bikes, so we got them unhooked and they enjoyed riding along the runway (soooo good for bikes!!). We were tired, so had a very civilised dinner of sausages on bread, ha!

Then the kids were introduced to what we now call “bucket baths” – fill a bucket with warm water, provide a washer, and take turns getting clean. We are essentially free camping – no power or water provided (there will be in future….and since the owner is my sister, we can cheat a little and get some drinking water from her), and using our own facilities (the toilet got used for the first time….but still cheating and using my sister’s washing machine). Way to dive straight in the deep end, hey!

There’s no phone service (for Optus), which also means no internet – after years of being on call, it actually feels a bit refreshing to not be connected 100% of the time.

So after the kids went to bed, and not being on call, I went all out for happy hour, and got a bit tipsy….for the first time in FOUR YEARS. I don’t want to make a habit of it, I’m not a big drinker and don’t plan to become one, but it was fun as an occasional thing. And Luke and I just got to sit and TALK – no phones, no distractions. Even though I was exhausted, I almost didn’t want the night to end.

And that is Day One.


Matthew, our second child (and only boy) is 7 years old (and a bit).

He is so different to my girls, who are a lot more like me. This can sometimes make it hard for me to connect with him – admittedly, it sometimes is actually a real struggle that we are working on together. I feel like he has missed out on a lot of me. Firstly, because when he was born I a) had a pretty shitty birth which impacted my emotions a lot in the early days and b) I also had a toddler to care for and was learning how to be a mama of two. Secondly, because when he was a toddler, I was pregnant, and then I had a baby. So I really believe there actually is something to the “middle child” thing that people talk about. I feel like he’s not had the one on one time the girls have had. Haylee, before he was born (and now that she’s older and “easier” and we have shared hobbies), and Milly while the big two were at school. I haven’t prioritised time alone with him, which is something I wish was different – because I know when I have, he just lights up and feels SO special. I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with him on a deeper level. I feel like it’ll be like getting to know each of them all over again, without the distraction and “busy-ness” of life as we’ve known it.

Anyway, I feel like this trip is going to offer so much opportunity for this little guy. I think his sweet, sensitive, quirky and somewhat introverted soul will be well suited to this new lifestyle. He has never been a huge fan of school, so I’m excited to see him flourish when he’s learning things his own way. He has always seemed happier and more content when we’ve been camping, even though they’ve only been short trips so far.

If I was to describe Matthew in a few words, I would say he is: kind, sensitive, quiet, quirky and imaginative – he is the one out of my three who loves imaginary play and is happily able to entertain himself for hours with some game or scenario he’s created!

At the moment, he is absolutely mad about bikes, so I see lots of bike adventures in our future, and it makes me so happy to know that we can easily incorporate something he loves into our new life, on a more regular basis than what we do now. In fact, because he’s almost outgrowing his current bike, I’m thinking we might be surprising him with a new one before we leave! He’s pretty keen to get a real mountain bike with gears, etc.

I think he thought being interviewed was a bit funny, and a fun game, so our interview was quite funny – I should have filmed it though, because it was his facial expressions that really made it!

Anyway, here’s what he had to say:

Me: “So buddy, what do you think about this big trip”

Matthew: “It’s gonna be FUN”

Me: “What are you looking forward to the most?”

Matthew: “Bringing my bike, and riding my bike on the road”

Me: “What are some of the other things you’re going to bring with you?”

Matthew: “My ninja turtles!”

Me: “Where are you going to sleep?”

Matthew: “The middle bunk, because it’s medium high”

Me: “And what places do you want to see the most/”

Matthew: “The DESERT”

Me: “And what else?”

Matthew: “Ummmm……the BEACH”

Me: “What state do you want to see the most?”

Matthew: “I know the state, it’s in the middle, up the very top…..”

Me: “The Northern Territory?”

Matthew: “YEAH! That one!”

Me: “What do you think we’ll see there”

Matthew: “I don’t know”

Me: “But you just want to go there?”

Matthew: “Yeah”

Me: “Cool! What do you think it’ll be like to live in a caravan for a long time?”

Matthew: “BORING!”

Me: “Boring? Why?”

Matthew: “Because we can’t bring all our toys with us”

Me:”What do you think it’ll be like to have dad home with us all the time because he doesn’t have to work?”

Matthew: “………fun……..but we won’t get to have any more pancakes”

Me: “Well, we can still cook pancakes when we’re in the caravan! What about school, will you miss going to school?”

Matthew: “No”

Me: “What do you hate the most about school?”

Matthew: “Number facts!”

Me: “What do you think will be the best part about homeschooling?”

Matthew: (fart noise) “No. Bad”

Me: “You think homeschooling is bad?”

Matthew: “Yeah because you can’t play with toys”

Me: “Why not?”

Matthew: “Because you’re not allowed to, you just have to play without them.”

Me: “You’re allowed to play with toys!!! And playing can help you learn!”

Matthew: “Yeah like when you play with Ninja Turtles you learn that they’re from NYC”

Me: “What does NYC stand for?”

Matthew: “New York City”

Me: “Do you know where New York City is?”

Matthew: “I know it’s…..in the continent that’s up above us, that’s bigger than us”

Me: “What else do you think you could learn when you’re not at school?”

Matthew: “Deadly animals, off of Deadly 60”

Me: “Awesome! We might even get to see some Deadly 60 animals in real life! What other kinds of animals do you think we might see?”

Matthew: “An oooowl!”

Milly (butting in haha): “I know! A pig!”

Me: “Do you think we should go north or south first?”

Matthew: “North! Oh mum, there’s an understanding for north south east west. It’s called north east south west, never eat soggy weetbix”

Me: “What do you think we will eat for breakfast?”

Matthew: “Weetbix!”

Me: “Who will you miss the most when we leave?”

Matthew: “Jack” (our neigbour)

Me: “Just Jack? Who else?”

Matthew: “Granny…….and Ma, and Jack…..oh and Grandpa, and Pa”

Milly (butting in again): “Are you going to miss the entire galaxy?”

Me: “What food do you think we should take with us?”

Milly (butting in again): “Apples, carrots…”

Matthew: “Carrots….bananas…..and mum can we buy some more Uglies cookies? And choc chip bikkies that you make – they’re the BEST. And I’m going to help you!”

Me: “Do you think you could make cookies yourself?”

Matthew: “No way. I have to wait til I’m a teenager!”

Me: “Why?”

Matthew: “Because I have no idea how to make them” (his look here was so funny!)

Me: “Hmmm well that’s a lot of questions. Is there anything else you want to say? How do you feel about the trip?”

Him: “Good! Oh, and I also want to go to Western Australia”

Me: “So last question, do you think the trip will be awesome or terrible?”

Matthew: “AWESOME”


One of the first questions we get asked when we tell people of our plans is, “What do the kids think?”

I’ve sort of been answering with a generic “oh they’re pretty excited,” but I thought a better way of answering that question, was to actually ASK the kids!

I started with Haylee.

Haylee has just turned nine. I would describe her as being chilled out (but with a small fiery streak), kind hearted, independent, curious, adventurous, strong-willed/determined, caring, empathetic, smart and willing to give anything a go!

She loves being outdoors (she’s done lots of hiking with me), highland dancing, reading, listening to music (especially Ed Sheeran, I’m hoping to score some tickets next Tuesday) and riding her bike. I think she’s going to LOVE this big adventure.

Here’s how our conversation went:

Me: “What are you looking forward to doing the most on our trip?”

H: “Going to Winton. And finding the opals and stuff. And Uluru.”

Me: “What do you think it’ll be like living in a caravan?”

H: “Umm…different”

Me: “Yeah? How?”

H: “Well it’s a lot smaller in space”

Me: “Where are you going to sleep?”

H: “Well I want to sleep on the bottom bunk but maybe I’ll have to sleep in the top bunk so Milly doesn’t fall off”

Me: “What do you think it’ll be like to have mummy and daddy both around all the time, because daddy doesn’t have to work away anymore?”

H: “Yeah, it’ll take a bit of getting used to, because dad’s usually away, and most of the time we’re at school as well”

Me: “Ahh, school! So, are you looking forward to homeschooling?”

H: “Yeah, sort of”

Me: “What do you think will be the good parts and the bad parts?”

H: “The good parts are you can (giggling) eat whenever you want and play whenever you want! And no homework! And the bad bits…….yeah I don’t think…..I don’t know?”

Me: “What do you think will be the worst part about travelling?”

H: “Ummmm…..nothing…..oh, maybe the part where we’re going to be in the car for ages”

Me: “What do you reckon about the crocodiles?”

H: “Yeah, I’m not going outside with the crocs. In the dark, at night! In the top part of Australia, around Darwin and all that”

Me: “What kind of things do you think you might get to learn about when we’re travelling and you won’t be at school?”

H: “All the different cultures, like the Aboriginals. And, like, the names of all the towns and stuff”

Me: “And will you be taking some of your books? Which books would you love to take with you?”

H: “Goosebumps and Roald Dahl. And there might even be books in some towns, about, like, Australia, that we could get”

Me: “What do you think you’ll do in the car, so you don’t get bored?”

H: “iPad (listening to music), and books, and colouring, and I Spy”

Me: “How far do you think you’ll be able to hike by the end of our trip?”

H: “15km maybe? Or 17. Right now I’m good at around 10km…but I have done 12!!”

Me: “Do you think that we should take our bikes?”

H: “Yessss!!! For sure!!!”

Me: “Do you think that mum and dad should get a bike?”

H: “DING! Yes. Then we can go for rides together”

Me: “Do you think you’ll be bored without TV?”

H: “Not really, no. Because I’ll have lots of other stuff to do, that I like better”

Me: “Can you name 10 places that you might like to go?”

H: “Winton. Kakadu. Katherine. Darwin. What’s the one right at the tip of Australia? Cape York! Ummm….there was another one! Umm, some places, I don’t know what they’re called, but around Hobart, like the places in Tasmania we didn’t get to see. Perth? And….ummmm….somewhere you can see the whales. And Mount Kosciusko!”

Me: “Who will you miss the most?”

H: “Friends, from school and dancing and stuff. And ma and pa. And granny and grandpa – although we might actually run in to them when we’re travelling!” (Note: Luke’s parents love our idea so much they are doing up their caravan and hope to do a similar thing!)


A few weeks ago, the restlessness that had been brewing under the surface of my being for a long time, came to the surface.

I had been feeling unsettled, uncertain of what it was that I wanted…..I had been trying to fill the gaps with all the things I thought were missing – more money, more things, more holidays. I actually felt a huge urge to SHOP, to just walk through a shopping centre and buy stuff that caught my eye. Which is weird for me, as I’m not really a shopper. I thought to myself, what is it that I’m looking for? What is it that I’m needing?

And the truth is, I don’t need more. I need less.

I am tired of being caught in the “work to pay the bills and only actually LIVE if time/money allows it” cycle. I’m tired of parenting alone much of the time, because my husband has to work to maintain our current lifestyle and spending habits, even if we have been trying not to be caught up in “stuff”.

I’m even tired of my business, the work that I adore with my entire being. Because whilst I love the families I work with, and I love creating memories for them….it’s HARD WORK to be “hustling” all the time. Selling myself, justifying myself, marketing myself all in order to BE more and ACHIEVE more….ALL the time. Worrying about not posting on social media for a week and losing engagement, or beating myself up for not blogging frequently enough, constantly going through the mental checklist of what I need to do behind the scenes (that I wish I could delegate to someone, but it’s all me). It’s exhausting.

I feel disconnected. Disconnected from my husband who has been away from us over 50% of the time for the last 5 and a half years. Disconnected from my children, who are sent off to school and daycare, and then when they’re home, I’m often too busy. “In a minute” “When I’m finished this” “I just need some space” “I’m too tired” and “Ask Daddy” (when he’s home) are all too common catch cries. And I don’t want it to be like that. I also feel disconnected from my friends, because I am already spread so thin that I feel like I don’t deserve the time out to go and have a coffee and a chat.

I am craving simplicity, adventure and freedom.

And so one day, I told my husband I was ready to sell the house, pay out our debts, buy a caravan and travel the country for a couple of years. Not living to a clock or a calendar or deadlines or paychecks. And…….he was ALL FOR IT. Absolutely 100% keen.

And so we started talking about how we could make it happen.

We’ve come up with a 3-5 year plan that involves travelling Australia AND buying land and building a home near the ocean like I’ve always dreamed…..and remaining debt/mortgage free.

This will mean that not only can we enjoy the present – for who knows how long we have left in this one life we have been given – but we are also setting ourselves up for retirement, we are ensuring our children’s future, and we are creating a lifestyle that focuses on simple joys. It will also allow us to enjoy not only our own country, but other countries too (Scotland is still on my bucket list, along with Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Canada and the Scandinavian countries).

It’s incredibly exciting and we are ALL looking forward to what lies ahead.

People may think we are absolutely crazy, but what is “normal” anyway. We’ve tried “normal” and it doesn’t suit us!

Our recent trip to Palmers Island, NSW (near Yamba/Maclean) only reinforced our decision.

We all had such a fabulous time, and life seemed so much more harmonious.

Here’s a few photos 🙂

Highlights:

~ Haylee caught a fish!!!!

~ The kids came on a bushwalk with us and there was only minimal complaining, yay!

~ I did a 14km hike along the ocean

~ We attended the Maclean Highland Gathering

~ The kids all made lots of friends. Matthew has often struggled with friendships, but he was so much more confident in forming friendships and initiating play, it was SO nice to see.

~ Our campsite was right on the river and we had lovely neighbours

~ The kids played at the beach and collected lots of seashells


On July 2, 2015, Luke and I were to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. I decided that it would be a really great idea for us to go on a family holiday, as we had not yet gone on a proper holiday with Milly, who was born in 2012! I knew the kids would love to see snow, and Luke hadn’t seen it yet either! And I’d always wanted to visit Tasmania. I’ve always found holidays a bit of a challenge – money always seems to disappear to “more important” things, the logistics of travelling with 3 small children sometimes makes it seem too overwhelming and hard, and I never quite know where to start in terms of planning an itinerary. We basically just winged it, deciding to fly into Hobart and base ourselves there for 8 nights. We hired a car, and it travelled many (beautiful) kilometres over those 9 days! In hindsight, I wish we’d been a little more organised so we could have spent a night or two in each place as we made our way around – or even better, hired a campervan so we had more freedom!

Anyway, here is a glimpse into our first proper family holiday….the one that started the itch that only more travelling can scratch!

Picture


I’ve heard it said that making the decision to go (travelling) is the hardest decision to make.

I suppose in some ways I agree – this decision, in hindsight, has been a long time in the making (thank you, dear husband, for being patient with me….I know you would have done this 5 years ago!).

But let me tell you, in my experience, the hardest part is not making the decision to go – that happened very casually one day while we were driving along in the car.

The hardest part is all the decisions you have to make afterwards.

What do we do with the house?

We have swung back and forth so many  times between renting, selling, renting, selling. We’ve spoken to others who’ve told us the good, the bad and the ugly of each option. We’ve spoken to real estate agents, and to the bank, and to anyone who will listen as we grapple with the decision, basically. At the moment we are settled on the idea of renting – as a bit of a safety net, I suppose, and an investment into our long term future. We know there are nightmare rental stories, but hopefully with a good agent and an emergency fund, and of course great tenants, that nightmare can be avoided. I like to think that it’ll be a case of “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” I want to be a landlord who makes sure our tenants are happy and comfortable and feel respected and listened to, and in return I hope this kindness and respect will be returned by them and that they will treat our house like their home.

What kind of car do we need? 

 Last year, we bought a new car to tow our camper trailer. At the time, it met our needs, and was fantastic! Unfortunately, because it has a lower towing capacity than the newer models, it was just cutting it too close to tow a caravan without us worrying about every single little thing we packed in both the car and the van (let me tell you, I’ve had to learn a whole bunch of stuff about GVM, AVM, TARE, etc etc – I’ve included a graphic from rview.com.au that helps explain! It’s really important to stay under all the weight limits for safety reasons, as well as insurance reasons). Anyway, we’ve ended up upgrading to a newer model dual cab Colorado (with 3.5t towing capacity – being mindful that what we stack in the car means less we can pack in the van!) to give us that extra wiggle room when it comes to towing/packing. Now, we just have two other cars left to sell – in other words, it’s a bit of a nightmare just now! But I’m sure it’ll be worth it.

Which caravan do we get?

A HUGE decision. Terrifying, really. We know nothing much about caravanning, at all. This is essentially going to be our home for a good few years, and then our weekender (or few-monther) for hopefully many years to come after that. We don’t want to get it wrong. Again, all over the internet, and through friend’s-cousin’s-sisters, there are nightmare stories of shonky dealers, lemon caravans and broken dreams. The internet really can be a pretty downright depressing and awful place, especially review sites! Before we even decided on a caravan, we had to discuss buying brand new vs second hand. When we had to upgrade the car, that decision was sort of made for us (financially), but even so, I’m happy with it. We have decided to go second hand for a few reasons – yes, budget is a consideration, and because we are looking at semi-offroad, triple bunk, ensuite vans, we are already up there in the higher price bracket. But we also feel that any issues would have (or should have!) been resolved by the original owners, under warranty or  otherwise. There’s no guarantees, of course, but by buying second hand, as long as you trust the people you are buying from, you have their firsthand experience to go by! We are also arranging an independent pre-purchase inspection through a local caravan repair company, for our own peace of mind. A roadworthy certificate is a must, but there are many things that they DON’T look at. We’ve sold our camper trailer, and decided on a second-hand 2014 model Supreme Caravan, which we will hopefully have parked up here by the end of the week!

What do we do with the dogs?

This is a tough one. One we are still deciding on, actually. We have had our first dog, Izzy, from when she was 6 weeks old and we were 6 months married. She’s going to be 12 later this year, and she was our first “baby.” I hate to think that her last years will be spent away from us, and that we may not even be around for her final days. But, I am a HUGE lover of national parks and hiking, and I know that the logistics of travelling with a pet are so much more complicated. Hubby won’t even consider leaving her behind, I don’t think. And every afternoon when I take her for a walk around the block, I think about how much she would ADORE adventuring with us in her “retirement.” She’s also a fabulously easy-going dog, and where permitted, would be just fine curling up in the van while we go on day trips. Luckily, too, there are lots of opportunities to have other travellers petsit, I’ve discovered! So right now, we are leaning towards taking her on the retirement trip of a lifetime! Our other dog presents more of a challenge. He is lovely and easygoing, but far younger and more energetic, and probably wouldn’t tolerate being leashed as much. He also sadly can’t be trusted to be left in the caravan, as he is toilet trained, but still likes to mark his territory (wahhhhh!!). So we are looking into re-homing him, which is a tough decision. I feel like I never had the same opportunity to bond with him, because I was in the depths of motherhood and spread thinner than I thought I ever could be when we got him as a puppy, and I feel really quite sad about it all.

How do we educate the kids? 

 This was an easy one for me. I’ve NEVER wanted to traditionally school my kids. I have an education degree, and yet for a long time now (probably since not long after my second child was born in 2010), I’ve believed that children have an innate desire to learn, and that school doesn’t give them the range of skills and experiences that LIFE outside the classroom does. So, we will become an “unschooling” family and that feels so right for us. Now there are LOTS of questions and objections that come up when the idea of unschooling is mentioned, and Sara from Happiness is Here has already done a fabulous job at addressing these in a number of unschooling-related articles found HERE, so I won’t go into it further just now. However, you can expect to see more posts in future about our unique learning journey!

What about the kids’ extracurricular activities?

Two of my kids have extra curricular activities they really enjoy. I’m actually finding it far harder to remove them from those activities than I am from school. Haylee, 9, adores her Highland Dancing. While I’ve done it alongside her and can coach her in some ways, I’m not confident in teaching her new dances/steps. And I’ve never trusted the internet for anything to be learned correctly. There’s too many people out there teaching, when they haven’t mastered the technique themselves. That is also why I, as a qualified music teacher, have chosen to hire tutors whenever I’ve wanted to learn a new instrument. Sure, I could teach myself, but there are SO many things a tutor can pick up/correct/recommend that simply can’t be done through Youtube or the likes. So what do we do? Well, I’m hoping when we are in more regional centres, there are established dance classes, and karate classes, that my daughter and son can join on a casual basis. That way, they can pick up some new skills to practice until we reach the next point of civilisation. We also have fabulous teachers who are willing to make use of technology such as Skype, to give feedback and maybe even virtual “lessons” if we cannot access anything face to face.

How  the heck can we afford it? What work can we do?

We are so lucky that the universe has aligned in many ways for us!!! Selling off our unneeded assets (cars, camper trailer, some bits and pieces around the house, extra camera etc) will pay off all of our smaller debt, and our rental income will cover our mortgage/caravan payments. Luke has the opportunity of soon taking a voluntary redundancy from his work, which will give us our emergency fund (for house and car costs), pay most of our bills (insurance, registration, etc) for 12 months in advance, and still give us quite a bit of a head start for our day-to-day expenses. Essentially the bulk of this is food and fuel, then occasionally having to get birthday gifts/clothes/shoes and that sort of thing. We are both open to doing any kind of work we can get, from housesitting and petsitting to hospitality and retail work, or farm work. With my teaching degree and Postnatal Doula certification, as well as my experience with young babies and children, I would also happily do childminding for other travelling families, or local families. And of course, my photography business will come on the road and I hope to get a few photography sessions booked in along the way! I am also a member of the Australian Breastfeeding Project, so will be running sessions where there is enough demand. The thought of not having a steady income is terrifying, yet liberating. To not have to rely on that paycheck to pay the huge number of bills that come with “traditional” living is such a relief. Because our bills will be paid in advance, the only thing we really NEED to buy is food. If there’s no fuel money, we stay a bit longer and work. Maybe it’s naive, or idealistic, but hey – we will soon find out!

What clothes and toys do we pack?


To be honest, this seems the least of my worries at the moment! Yes I’m conscious of weight, but really, even just decluttering the house has been such an amazing feeling that I’m HAPPY to take the bare minimum. Some seasonal clothes that can be swapped out at op-shops when the weather changes, a suitcase of books and toys/games, and my bagpipes (haha).

Then there’s the smaller, but neverending list of questions, like:

~ do we take bikes? Just kids, or adults too? 

~ what about the thermomix?

~ do I need to keep both cameras, or do I risk going back to just one?

~ which lenses do I take?

And there’s selling stuff, getting rid of stuff, storing stuff, donating stuff, cleaning stuff, preparing stuff, paperwork, paperwork, more paperwork. I’ve been quite overwhelmed by it all, to be honest. But with each step closer we get, the more I can keep the end goal in sight and not let myself be consumed by it!

So yeah, making the decision to go = easy.

Making all of THESE decisions = not so easy.

Hoping that the day we drive off for our road trip = worth it!



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