Home is where you park it: The new normal

by Monday, July 22, 2019

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 hear how Rochelle Martin is managing life on the road with her two sons (8 and 11) and her husband!

Why did you decide to take this journey?

Having travelled extensively for work, I really wanted to share my experiences and the wonder of travel as a family. While overseas travel is wonderful, it always makes me appreciate how diverse and incredible our own country is. We live in a small coastal town and I wanted to broaden my boys’ horizons and show them what else is out there and make them appreciate what we have at home, as well as experiencing the diversity of what Australia has to offer.

It was also important to me, as I travel a lot for work, to have this concentrated time as a family and be together 24/7 (as challenging as that can be some days!) and ‘steal’ as much precious time as we can with our two boys while we’re still able to.

It’s been my dream since they were little and for us, the timing was right; our boys are 8 and 11, old enough to remember it and soak it all up and young enough to leave their home/family/friends behind.

How difficult was it to pull off?

We’re fortunate to have flexible work environments. I’ve also taken some personal leave for the days we just want to soak it all in and not worry about work at all.

The boys’ school was super supportive and enrolling them in Distance Ed was a very easy process. A decision needs to be made between home-schooling and Distance Ed, and it’s worth researching the pros and cons of both, but for us it was an easy choice as home-schooling requires that you set the curriculum yourself.

Nan and Pop adopted our dear fur child Raphy (14-year-old Border Collie) while we’re on the road and we have let out our home while we’re away.

Leaving Raphy was probably the toughest thing for all of us and we considered bringing him along but at his age decided the kindest option was to leave him happy and snug with the grandparents.

What plans did you need to put in place to prepare before leaving?

In addition to the holiday letting and enrolling the boys in Distance Education, we had to research the best van/vehicle set up for us as a family. Once you commit to “we’re really doing this”, it does all fall into place.

How does it feel now you’ve hit the road?

It feels FANTASTIC! There’s a certain freedom in not having the day-to-day constraints of appointments, chores, bills, school sports, etc. Of course, there’s still laundry to do on the road and work and school commitments, but, with so many hours in the day and only an 18-foot van to look after, it’s much more manageable.

During the first couple of weeks, I thought the drives would be the end of us, but we’ve got into a great routine; there’s barely any squabbles in the back, and we’ve all adjusted to this ‘new normal’ incredibly well.

Just a few weeks in and we’ve already shared experiences I’ll never forget and seeing the boys adapt so well to such foreign environments (in the middle of the bush, collecting sticks and creating campfires; being taught to crack a whip at an outback station; sitting as a family snuggled up and telling stories under a blanket of stars) has reassured me that this was the best decision we’ve ever made.

Do you have any tips or advice for others considering taking the plunge?

There are so many different ways to do it, try and work out what works best for you. Look at websites like TAWK (Travel Australia with Kids) for inspiration and advice.

If you only do a 2-3-month trip, you can get away with keeping your children enrolled at school and not doing any work on the road (an appealing option as I think it’s the school work that turns some people off!).

Depending on your job, you may be able to work along the way. We’ve met people who stop at certain points and work for a couple of months and then keep on travelling. Everyone is doing it differently but all sharing the same dream of exploring this big, beautiful country.

The travelling community out there is so friendly and supportive, reach out, ask as many questions as you need to. Follow fellow travellers on social media, start researching and just commit to “making it happen”!!