Have you noticed the growing number of people packing up a caravan and hitting the road on an #ozadventure lately? I’m not talking about ‘grey nomads’, I’m used to them, I’m talking about the young families taking their children out of school for months at a time and hitting the road. While it’s a concept that’s quite scary to me (so much organisation), I’m genuinely curious as to how friends, who I know are of sound mind, can pull this epic trip off. I’m convinced the trips will supply life long memories, and I’m a bit envious at their courage.
To find out more, I’ve asked two friends to share their thoughts in a special ‘Home is where you park it’ edition of Guest Traveller. This week, we hit the road with Felicity Armstrong and her family.
Why did you decide to take this journey?
After a tough year on the farm, we decided to take a break and do something together as a family. We’re in the purple patch of our kids being self-sufficient but still primary school age – a much easier time to pull them out of school – so it was the best opportunity for us. As far as the choice to do a caravan trip around Australia; we live in such a beautiful country, we wanted to get out and explore our own backyard. Our caravan is literally a mini-home; a triple bunk, queen bed, toilet, shower, heater, air conditioner, kitchenette & dinette. What more do you need?!
How difficult was it to pull off?
We had a few boxes to tick before we could go. Firstly, we needed a caravan! We needed to ensure the farm, our house and our animals were going to be looked after. We have a great house sitter looking after our house and animals. I had to ensure my work projects were completed and that the school was informed.
What plans did you need to put in place before you took off?
Make sure you book ahead at the places you know will be busy such as Uluru and Kakadu. Check your car and caravan insurance are both up-to-date, and organise road assistance membership if needed. And, if you plan on navigating unsealed roads like us, prepare your caravan so it is well equipped for dusty, bumpy tracks. Research the locations that you’re visiting including the best sites and attractions so that you can plan how much time you’d like at each destination. And plan your meals so that you’re not spending all your time slaving over the caravan stove. My tip is to pre-cook meals and freeze them.
How does it feel now you’ve hit the road?
Freedom! No work commitments. No school commitments. Just commitments to get to the next location on our trip. I’m so pleased we made the decision to do this. It’s creating lifetime memories for our family; an adventure we’ll never forget.
What top tips or advice do you have for others considering taking the plunge?
- Pre-cook and freeze meals and pack them into an Engel. For us, we had to take a Second Engel to fit in all 38 family meals! I made a mix of chicken, lamb and beef. Then just defrost the meal of your choice during the day.
- Pack the bikes for the kids. You’ll find they ride everywhere!
- Book ahead at places you suspect will be busy such as Uluru and Kakadu, especially in school holidays.
- Less is more when it comes to packing clothes. I packed a week’s worth of clothes for everyone, and then washed at the caravan parks along the way.
- Don’t rush your trip. You don’t want to come home feeling exhausted. Stay on at a place if you’re enjoying it. Take the time to experience and feel the place. If you don’t like the place, leave early!
- Take lots of photos and record your trip using tools such as Instagram. You’ll be able to look back at your trip in years to come with fond memories.
- Research good apps and install them before you go. For example wikicamps suggests accommodation options at each destination and you’ll be able to view comments from other travellers. There are also apps for fuel, gas etc.
- Consider how you will keep the kids entertained on those long days of driving. Audio books are a great option. Speak to your local library back home about borrowing some; they’re usually free!