It's early days but here are 6 lessons learned so far after just over a month on the road . . .
Blink and you’ll miss it… 7 weeks have flown past! We are now into the longest spell we have been away from home as a family on any regular holiday. That makes it official! We are Travellers, not just Holiday Makers. Although I suppose having no home to go back to is also a pretty solid argument for calling us vagabonds.
Having now spent a week in the South East of SA and a full 6 weeks criss-crossing Tasmania, I feel we have some experience under our belt to reflect on before we continue on this journey. I expect my position on many of the following statements to potentially alter as our year on the road progresses. In the mean time, here are some of the things we have learnt so far.
1. Our kids are better travellers than we expected.
Aged 6 and 8, we were expecting to have to make more stops for kid-friendly breaks than we have and to hear more whinging from the back seat. Instead, they have been quite content with a blank journal and pack of textas each, to draw what they have seen and write down things that were of importance to them. Also, a splitter on the iPod headphones to audio books so they can both listen to the same story at once while we blissfully avoid the kids stories upfront. Winner winner chicken dinner! The less toys the better.
2. 6 weeks didn’t feel long enough for Tasmania.
Incredible huh? That tiny island with the smallest distances between towns is packed full to the brim with amazing things to see and do, and you just can’t squeeze it all in! The Tassie Tourist website’s 2-4 week guidelines of a full lap tour of the state that we were following was crushed to a pulp in my footwell by the end of the first week. Our advice, if you have less time, pick an area and just focus on that, then make plans to return… just like we will do!
3. We need to slow down.
We heard this over and over again in our pre-departure planning phase, but it just doesn’t sink in until you are out there doing it and frazzled to the bone. The dirty laundry piles up, the beach towels stay damp, and you always run out of milk when you’re camped in whoop whoop and are desperate for a coffee. Not cool. It might feel free and liberating to still be driving in the dark without a campsite in mind when you’re 20 with 3 mates in the van, but with kids in tow and dinner still to be cooked, poking your headlights into unfamiliar campsites puts an added load of stress on your trip you just don’t need.
Note to self: stop and smell the gum leaves!
Skip over some places in favour of relaxing and fully experiencing others.
4. Once you Free Camp, its hard to go back.
What? $32 for an unpowered site PLUS $10 per extra child? And that’s a CHEAP caravan park, squeezed in with the masses with a view into the rear end of some blokes RV. No way. Problem is, in some busy popular areas, there just isn’t a Free Camp that is either legal or safe. Sometimes, you just have to fork out the dosh and average it out over the week. Then have a 15 min hot shower in the amenities block to justify the spend (not to mention wash off a weeks worth of Free Camp filth).
5. Living in each others pocket 24/7 is a learning curve.
School, work, individual hobbies and commitments kept us apart for a fair bulk of each day in our regular life. One of the reasons travelling together full time was appealing to us was in regards to reconnecting together as a family. Kids grow up so fast (we hear). Looks good on paper. But reality can sometimes prove different! There ain’t much breathing space as a parent whilst on the road, especially when free camping outside of school holidays when there are surprisingly not many kids out there for ours to play with. We are going bed together and rising together in the morning, without out much kid-free time in between.
Mark and I have also been building in time to pursue our own hobbies while on the road; he likes Mountain Biking and I like to hike, so one minds the children while the other hits the trail. We want to be together happily on this trip, but any major change in the norm is going to have some road bumps, and we are learning to navigate them.
6. We can live with less.
Less water. Less power. Less stuff. It works. With no one to impress, meeting different people each day and everyone accepting your clothes are a bit wrinkled and your hair isn’t blow dried ‘cause you’re on holiday, everything gets whole lot easier. Breakfast bowls can be washed up in a splash of cold water instead of a sink of hot soapy suds. That T-shirt can be worn again, the laundry is still 2 nights away and you’ll only dirtier another. Baked beans for dinner? Meh, why not? Kid’s still awake at 9pm? Less rules! There’s no reason to get up early for tomorrow and to be fair its their sabbatical too, climbing trees in the sunset’s golden rays while we sit back with a cold drink and relax. Less is good.
I’m sure we have a whole lot more to learn as we go around, and we are looking forward to it, even if its quite often challenging, and you can’t argue with your partner when the neighbours are only a mere canvas wall away.
Ah well, around we go, kids in tow!
A Fanatical Sabbatical
‘Mark, Kim and the kids are leaving behind their home in the Adelaide Hills to jaunt around the country side while they manage their arborist business remotely. Normally enrolled in ‘bush school’, they thought they could push the kids outdoor eduction experience a little further by living outside for a year.
And follow them on Facebook @AFanaticalSabbatical