I hear those words all the time "Oh I/we could never do what you are doing, I wish we could". Well, I want to tell you that you CAN. You just have to work toward it like everything else in your life you have worked towards. I know when you start to consider somthing new and unknown there are bound to be reservations, what can you do about them?
There are many ways
There are so many options, just because you cant afford one or it doesnt seem "functional" enough for your family it doesnt mean you have no other choices. People travel Australia under many different budgets and levels of comfort. It all just depends on what "Creature comforts" you ARE willing to sacrifice to make this dream happen - so here are some of your options:
- caravan - this is what we use
- camper trailer - they take a little more setting up but can go ALOT more remote than our van!
- swag - simple but cost effective and if all you have is a swag and a capable FWD... Oh the options.
- motorhome - want luxury? Google "motorhome" WOW!
- fifth wheeler - similar comfort and space of a motorhome but without the engine. You generally need a car with a faily big tow capacity.
- a tent - yep, a tent! Where there is a will there is a way!
- a minivan/campervan - Another cost effective solution (this also makes fuel a bit cheaper as towing really takes its toll on your fuel bill.
- private jet? - just joking ;-)
- convert a bus! this was our original plan but we were in too much of a hurry. I think its a winner idea!
- pushbikes - Ive seen MANY push bike travellers along the way! Brave people! Think of the fuel savings, the environment... Your poor legs? hehe
- a boat - buy a livable boat and travel around (literally) Australia. You can stop at most places for $0.00 (seriously). You can go nuts around the whitsunday islands, eat fish and other seafood and when you REALLY want to - you can jump on land and explor with a pushbike or a hire car.
So if you cant afford a caravan or dont want to wait the amount of time it takes to save for one - try a camper trailer (you will see SO much more as they can go so much rougher than the van). If you cant handle the thought of giving up your creature comforts, but you want this lifestyle - trade in the massive home motgage for a decdent sized, luxurious, motorhome. Or build one yourself? Dont want to commit too much money upfront - tent/swag to begin with, until you are certain. Your options are endless and there is a way that will suit everyone.
I met some people not long ago whom had just begun a journey around Australia, when I asked them if they were enjoying it they said "not really" and started to explain. They said that living in a van was extremely difficult, they were finding it hard with their children and they werent sure how they would do it. They asked me what I thought of that and what I think they should do? So here is my "two bob" on introducing yourself to the caravanning life.
Give yourself time to adapt
Like every new experience or opportunity in life it takes time to adapt to it. Dont expect that when you move into a van/camper trailer/bus etc life will be the same as it was at home. There will be vast differences but give yourself TIME to adapt to them also your children. You will find a new routine that works for you. You will find a way that everyone can get a good nights sleep in the van. It just takes time.
If you have children
Remember that this is a HUGE change for them and it will take time for them to get used to it so if they are not sleeping well at the beginning and everyone is getting to that point of exhaustion and frustration... give it time. Try to focus on picking up the things they have lost from leaving their old, more structured life. Add in a few things or family "rituals" you can take part in every week even if its just a sunday BBQ or roast or a fmaily game of cricket every Tuesday morning. This can give them a sense of structure and make them feel a little less overwhelmed. Also remember - relaxing can be VERY exhausting. We found that we were so exhausted every afternoon we were ont he road. You fit so much into a day and it really takes its toll on you so try and get to bed earlier, make time to relax at "home" some days, give the kids a chance for some downtime.
Accentuate the positives
Focus on all the positives this lifestyle has brought into your life and encourage the kids to aswell. For every negative aspect you come up with point out its positive counterpart. In many of the most wonderful experiences in life we have to be sacrificing somthing else at the same time to be experiencing them, so focus on that. Encourage your kids to talk abou thow different their life is from the other kids and remind them of how lucky they are to get to live this way.
But how do you survive without time alone?
We are asked this all the time. We DO have time alone. Our son naps for 2-3 hours a day (luckily) but you could always put the kids inside on their beds with a quiet book to wind down and sit on the beach with hubby (if your camped at/on the beach) or you could wait until night time. Rather than switching on a TV, sit outside in your chairs with a glass of wine and simply connect. Lay a blanket under the stars and relax together until your ready for bed.
But what about not having our friends around?
if your camped somewhere you are able to have a camp fire, chances are once the kids are all tucked into bed if you sit outside and spark it up - before you know it everyone will have come to join you. Instant socialising - no babysitters or makeup required. Its a wonderful, relaxed environment and it will make up for any amount of "missing" of your friends. Same goes for your kids. I was at the pool yesterday for all of 3 minutes before a 7 year old girl was swimming around with my son playing a game that was making them both crease up laughing.
Anyone can live like this. There are housing options, work options (see this post I wrote about making money on the road). You have more options, more choice and more room for change than in any other lifestyle so dont feel afraid to search and mould it until you find the way it works for you and your family. If all else fails and you need some reassuring, travelling families are always willing to encourage and support others, seek them out - online, in person, however you can, we are all in this together!
What does "living the simple dream" mean to me?
I always hear people from our generation saying "Ahh, living the dream" when they are doing somthing our of the ordinary - for example: sipping cocktails in a spa of a fancy resort or perhaps they post "living the dream" as the caption beneath a photo of them moving into their new $500,000+ mansion-esque home they have just mortgaged their life away for. At first I was confused by how simple my ambitions were. All I wanted was to live in a caravan and be able to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors with my husband and son, without my husband having to be at work all the time. So for me, this became my simple dream. I find myself having those "Ahh living the dream" moments when I am sitting in a natural hot spring with my husband and son, drinking a beer, ten feet away from a crocodile infested river. Now mine, my husbands and my sons life is all about chasing our simple dream.