I can’t recall the exact moment we decided to take the plunge and travel Australia, although I do believe the seed was planted a long long time ago. As teenagers full of optimism and big dreams we even started a savings plan to one day drive ‘Up North’. The goal was to get to Millstream Chichester NP. We never actually made it (until a number of years later) and it is highly likely that any money we actually saved was spent on beer!
Together and independently we have done a small amount of domestic and international travel. Paul also spent some time working in remote locations across the state while working as an Exploration Driller. I guess the desire to explore our own back yard has always been there.
I spent 2008/9 completing a Graduate Diploma in Primary Education. The final goal being to secure a country teaching position preferably in The Pilbara or Goldfields. There’s a teacher shortage right? Plenty of jobs out there right? I think not.
We had hedged our bets on us moving at the end of 2009 and starting a new life chapter in a faraway town. When this didn’t happen the wind was totally sucked out of our sails.
Never mind. As you can see we developed a back up plan!
Most people when we tell them of our plans have wonderful reactions. They get excited for us and say ‘I would love to do that’ or ‘What an adventure, you are so lucky’. This is true, luck certainly has helped us get this far, but hard work, bravery and determination also play a part. There are other people, however, who shudder when hearing our plans and offer all sorts of obstacles on why they couldn’t or shouldn’t do it. Lack of time, money, having kids in school, not being able to leave family etc. etc. Believe me, all of these have, and on some occasions, still do, continue to flash across my mind.
Bravery? Yep that’s right bravery. People having done this, doing this and planning on doing this get a big BRAVO from me. I would not describe myself as a very adventurous person. In fact, I married a man I went to high school with, live a couple of kilometres from the home I grew up in and spent over 25 years working at the same place while attending high school and two lots of uni (and before you question how I could have possibly held one for so long, I should let you know entered the workforce at the age of 18 months!). So, you see I am the prime example of someone NOT likely to take a leap of faith and do this journey. But when broken down, I could not find a single decent reason not to.
Finances: This kind of travel is not cheap – just look at the prices of diesel and caravan parks, especially when you mention you have 3 kids (KA-CHING!!). You don’t have to do it in a caravan. Convert a bus, do it on a bike, tent it, sleep in the car! As you can tell from the beer story, saving is not our strong point. Never the less we have managed to get some money in the bank although realise that it is entirely likely that we are going to have to work at some stage. Eh, we can live with that. We are also fortunate that Paul has accrued Long Service Leave. So is money really a decent reason for not going? I don’t think so. Take your time, plan, save and set yourselves reasonable goals. Or, just sell up and take off!
Kids in school: This is a biggie. Are you game enough to homeschool? What if the kids fall behind? They’re gonna miss their friends? They’ll miss out on things. Mmmm, think about it. There are so many resources (books, websites, organisations) out there to make this easier and I will address these in an education page. It will only be as hard as you make it. A couple of hours a day should be plenty and you might be amazed at what you relearn! Kids are resilient and adaptable – have faith and give ’em a go. Miss their friends? Maybe so, but its the 21st Century after all and they will only be as far away as technology allows, besides there are plenty of other families out there, they can make new and perhaps even lifelong friends. Miss out? You have got to be kidding me! Think of what they may experience – walking the base of Uluru, climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge, seeing a Whale Shark at Ningaloo, visiting the underground town of Coober Pedy. These experiences are invaluable – how could you not take them?
Family: Sure, leaving family and friends is not going to be easy but like I said before this is the 21st Century. This is the time of the internet and mobile phones. Skype is already installed at both sets of grandparents meaning regular video chats – and its free people! Besides, although you may be sent on a few guilt trips (not mentioning any names
mum) at the end of the day family and friends will be supportive of your plans and you never know, they may even join you to share part of the experience.
Time: Is there really a perfect time to do this? That’s like asking ‘How long is a piece of rope’ I mean there are thousands of grey nomads out there living the dream but is it necessary to wait until retirement? I’m sure we have all heard tragic stories of people reaching retirement and then not being able to travel or perhaps not even making it to retirement. Do you have to wait until the kids have flown the coop until you head off? Nah, take them, or follow the lead of the huge number of young backpackers that flock to Australia each year and do it before you have kids. Whatever, channel Robin Williams and ‘Carpe Diem’.
So, back to the original question: Why pack all your possessions, move the family into a confined space and drive for thousands of kilometres?
Besides if all else fails just do this