It actually happens more often than you might think.
You'd expect that people who have been together for years or even decades would both be on the same page when it comes to packing up and taking off on a trip around Australia.
But it's not always the case.
I often get emails from people asking for advice on how to 'convince' their partner to retire and hit the road or that taking the kids out of school for 6 months or a year will be a good thing.
I've also heard a few horror stories of retired couples and families that did take the plunge and made it 2 or 3 months into their trips and it all went pear shaped.
It just wasn't working, usually because one half of the partnership was really not committed.
They ended up pulling the pin and heading home and you can imagine just how the mood in the car would have been on those return trips!
In almost every case though, when the reluctant partner does take the plunge, they don't look back and end up being just as big a fan of the experience.
I've also found from talking with people we've met on the road that the reluctant partner is not so concerned about not liking the travelling lifestyle as they are about leaving behind the things that matter to them - friends, family, routines, hobbies . . structure . . . control.
So if your goal is to persuade your other half and maybe your kids as well to join you on a big lap adventure, and for them to genuinely enjoy it, then you first need to help overcome the issues that are holding them back.
What you don't want to do is use bribery or any other emotional leverage to get what you want because it will more than likely come back to bite you.
And you'll find your trip will not be the great experience you imagine it will be.
You need to take the long view and accept that it may take some time to get where you want to go.
In our case it took us 7 years from when we resolved to do The Big Lap until the day we drove out the driveway.
Many obstacles had to be overcome along the way - we had a business to sell and we wanted to have babies.
But by keeping our big lap firmly on the radar we eventually got there.
Mind you our friends got pretty sick of hearing us talking about our 'big trip' and I'm sure they quietly talked about it never really coming to fruition.
So below I've put together some ideas that you can use that will help to get everyone on the same page and help you turn your big lap dream into a plan that you are both/all on board with.
Ease Them Into It
How does the saying go . . . 'You catch a lot more flies with honey!?"
Ultimately you want them to be excited about the experience like you are, not just go along with it to keep you happy.
One way to do this is to give them a taste of what to expect and make it a very positive experience.
Plan some short trips away - even start with a weekend.
Go somewhere nice and comfortable and rent a cabin in a caravan park.
When you're ready to take the next step, rent a camper trailer for a week and go somewhere slightly more adventurous.
Don't try to do too much too soon though - planning a 7 day trip where you move somewhere new every day will only add stress to the experience.
Packing up and setting up takes time and isn't loads of fun.
Plan to spend at least 3 nights in each spot so you have time to relax and enjoy the 'serenity'.
Try and plan these short trips for times when the weather is great - nothing will turn them off faster than a weekend of cold and rain.
In the build up to the 'big one' you might even plan a longer 4 or 6 week road trip to somewhere further away like the Red centre, Birdsville, Cape York even.
An experience that will be big enough to really get into the travelling lifestyle and hopefully get them hooked well and truly and wanting more.
Go home for holidays
One of the concerns that people have about taking off around Australia for a six months or a year or more is that they will miss their friends and family back at home.
To overcome this you can plan to have holidays back at home as often as you need to during your trip - every few months even.
You can leave your car and camper trailer or caravan in storage at a caravan park and fly home for a week or two, catch up with everyone, then fly back and resume your trip.
This will go a long way to overcoming their reluctance to be away from family for so long.
Invite friends and family to come and join you
You can also invite your friends and family to come and spend some time with you along the way.
This is a holiday for them and a chance to share some quality time together.
We had several visitors on our Big Lap.
My Mum travelled with us for nearly two months early in the trip.
Our friend Anita spent a long week with us on the west coast.
Another friend Jackie spent a long weekend with us at Uluru.
And my Dad spent a week with us at Lake Argyle.
Later in the trip Jen met Anita for a week of pampering, shopping and lazing by the pool on the Gold Coast while the girls and I drove from Alice Springs up the Stuart Highway to Katherine where we picked her up fro the bus station.
Break it into smaller trips
If the whole 'year away from home' idea is proving to be hard to sell, you can always look at breaking up your big lap into shorter trips of say, 3 months each.
A lot of people will do 'the east coast' . . . 'the west coast' . . . 'the centre' . . . 'across the top' etc.
Doing it in smaller bites is a lot better than not doing it at all and you never know, once the bug bites you might find yourself on that endless road trip that you're dreaming about (or is that just me 🙂
Don't burn your bridges
Another concern that people have is leaving behind their home and possessions or selling the house and regretting it.
Everyone's circumstances are different but I would not suggest you sell your house to do the big lap if you have the option to rent it out.
Even better, you may find that you can leave your furniture in your house and rent it out fully furnished which might increase the rent you get.
This will also reduce your costs of storage.
Having your home to come back to is a reassuring feeling and may be what your reluctant partner needs.
If you get 9 months down the road and both decide you really do want to sell up then you can always come back and sell your house then resume your trip.
If you need to sell your house to afford that 'dream' caravan and new 4WD and you are both not 100% committed to this, then I'd suggest you don't.
You don't need $150,000 worth of 4WD and caravan to drive around Australia.
You can put together a perfectly comfortable and reliable setup for well under $30k that in a years time after you've done your trip will still be worth virtually the same amount.
If you get 6 months down the road and are beyond any doubt that this is your lifestyle from here onwards, then go ahead and sell up.
But I bet even then you'll reconsider whether you need to spend the big bucks to get all the bells and whistles.
Once you get out there you realise you don't really need all that stuff that seemed so indispensable in the showroom or at the 4WD show.
We camped in a caravan park in Broome on our Big Lap and there we were in our old 80 Series Land Cruiser and cheap camper trailer looking all dirty and dusty from several weeks exploring the Pilbara.
A retired couple pulled in next to us in their immaculate new off-road caravan and latest model Landcruiser.
Once they were setup, the guy was out polishing his chrome tow ball and we started chatting - he asked about where we'd been to get so much red dirt all over our rig and I told him, Karijini National Park, Newman etc.
He proceeded to tell me about how they'd driven about 80 km along a dirt road the week before and it had taken him so long to clean all the dust off after that he wouldn't be doing it again!
In fact he was finding the whole travelling thing a bit stressful and yearned to get back home to the simple life back in the city.
These guys are an example of jumping in too hard too soon.
No doubt when they got home they sold their off-road caravan and virtually new Landcruiser and lost a small fortune in the process and still talk about what a bad experience the whole thing was.
Easing into it with a less glamorous and much lower cost rig would have been the smarter decision and may have caused less stress along the way as who cares if the old 80 series is dirty!
If all else fails . . . go alone
If no matter how hard you try, you cannot get your partner to the start line then maybe you need to think about going solo.
It's not uncommon to see people, even retirees, travelling alone on extended trips.
Travelling by yourself is a very different experience and while it can be a bit lonely and maybe a little scary at times, it's very rewarding as well.
You inevitably meet more people and find yourself outside of your comfort zone more often which is mostly a good thing.
Once again, start with smaller trips so that you and your partner can get used to the idea.
Maybe go on an organised bus or 4wd tour for a week or two.
This will give you time to think about how you might engineer longer trips.
It may also get your partner thinking about what they are missing and make them more inclined to have a go.
Make sure you take plenty of photos and share your great experience but always in a positive 'you would have loved it' way . . . rather than 'look how much fun I had without you'!
And finally . .
Here are few more 'conversation point's that you can use to help paint the picture for your partner about what an extended road trip is all about:
- Remind them that Australia is the ultimate touring destination. It’s huge, it’s adventurous, it’s safe, there are no country borders, no language barriers, you’ll find every conceivable environment from snow capped peaks to sun scorched deserts and everything in between, it’s unspoilt and uncrowded, it’s not that expensive and there are loads of fun things to do. Frankly they owe it to themselves to get out and see their own backyard.
- Remind them of the memories they will be creating that will last a lifetime. You might even offer to buy them a nice camera as an incentive.
- Consider the family bonding experience – shared adventure and all that. What could be better than a year spent with your partner (and kids) exploring and discovering new things?
- Think of all the people you’ll meet and the friends you’ll make. Real friends that will genuinely love you to visit them one day and stay. The fact that you are both out travelling around the country means you have something in common so you’ll always have plenty to talk about.
- Remind them of the time they will have to just relax and watch the world go by. Sitting on a beach with a book, strolling along a nice bush track, wildlife encounters, cappuccinos in new and interesting cafés, markets, history and landscapes that will literally take your breath away.
- And if they still need more convincing, remind them that they only live once!
One morning a guy came up and started chatting while I was cooking the pancakes and he was telling me about their trip.
They'd left Sydney about 6 months ago on what they planned to be a continuous trip . . no end in sight.
He was in his late sixties and told me that the last 6 months had been the best six months of his life.
He'd been pretty successful financially and had plenty of money.
In fact he told me, as he was tearing up, that he had seriously considered retiring 5 years earlier when he already had plenty of money.
But had decided instead to keep working.
Now, after 6 months on the road, instead of 5 years and 6 months on the road he bitterly regretted not retiring when he already had enough money.
Sure he had more numbers in the bank but he could never get those 5 years back.
It certainly made me think about what is truly important in life.
Money matters for sure but experiences are what it's all about.
Want to see what a road trip around Australia looks like?