Hitting the road for a big lap around Australia is a popular dream for many hard working Aussies, and one that is becoming increasingly popular with many families too. If you’re considering a big lap yourself and unsure of what this huge adventure will mean for you and your family, this post is for you.
How do you find your new kind of normal after such a life changing adventure? Does a trip like this change you forever and impact how (and maybe where!) you and your tribe will live?
We’ve met many families on the road doing a ‘Big Lap’ and it’s interesting to see how this adventure inspires them to live once the full time travels end. It seemed that most were uncomfortable with their current life, not necessarily unhappy, they just knew that there was something better out there for them, all they had to do was find it.
We check-in with some fellow travellers from our Vanlife community who have stopped travelling. Have they gone back to the same life they had?
How has their adventure changed them? What tips can they give you? Let’s read on and see…
Meet The Warren Tribe – @warren_tribe
Glenn, Kelly, Finley, Marlow, Harper and Sunnie.
When: We travelled Australia in 2018 for twelve months travelling in a clockwise direction from Victoria.
What: Our set up was a Land Rover Defender and an Airstream caravan.
Sell up or rent: We sold up, travelling with open eyes and no ties.
Funding: We drew on savings to fund our trip. We found our expenses were lower living on the road, so our only real sacrifice was a year’s income and it was so worth it!!
After the big lap: We settled in Bangalow, in northern NSW. We are originally from Victoria. We pulled into Broken Head after travelling Australia and felt like we were home. It was the strangest feeling! We found the perfect rental in Bangalow and enrolled each of the children in local schools. In the months that followed our days were filled with surfing, meeting so many beautiful people and integrating into this incredible community. The transition into the community, work and school was so smooth that it’s actually made us feel like we’ve always lived here!
Our move was driven by our desire to create a balance in life doing the things we enjoy regularly. Also, living somewhere that feels like paradise and where the winters are short!
How did your tribe settle back into ‘home life’ after your travels?
After twelve months on the road, living in a van, we were actually really excited about moving into a house! I feel like the timing for us couldn’t have been more perfect. Since we’ve been in the house (9 months), we have been living our best life, surfing 4-5 times a week and feel like we’re living the dream! When we do go on bush walks, all of the children comment on how it feels like we’re living on the road again!!
The transition into a house has been seamless for us…it’s as though everyone was ready for the change (even though we were still loving van life). The kids walk to school and then come home afterwards spending their afternoons riding bikes and climbing trees (if we’re not surfing!).
We actually haven’t been on any weekends away in the Airstream since settling here but have been creating these weekend adventures for our guests through our business One Lazy Sunday. One Lazy Sunday is an Airstream Art Hotel, where we provide luxury accommodation at the destination of choice – it’s pop-up luxe accommodation at its best. We deliver the van and set it up for our guests, packing it down after their stay. We have a number of Airstreams in the fleet.
The hardest part after you stopped? We haven’t found anything difficult after settling back into a house. Maybe it’s because we relocated and it’s all new and exciting…I’m not sure.
Favourite thing about being back, and in a big house? Ummm…favourite thing about being back in a house is probably being back in a community. I love that we have so many neighbours who we chat to each day…and the baths….the baths are good too!!
What do you miss the most about life on the road? We all miss spending every day as a family but I still feel like we have a good balance living here. It also makes us appreciate the weekends even more. Each of the kid’s birthdays have fallen on school days and each of them have mentioned not hanging out together on their birthday as they have school, whereas last year, we were all together for the entire day for each of the birthday celebrations.
Any plans to go again? There are no plans for extended travel in the immediate future as we are loving our life here and not feeling the desire to travel. Our weeks are spent fitting in what surfing we can around work and school, managing to be at the beach, generally 4 times a week. Having launched our business One Lazy Sunday, we’re actually enjoying providing our guests with some great experiences!
Any tips you would like to share ? If you have any desire to pack up and hit the road, our advice is to make it happen!
You can now experience a taste of van life in their fabulous Airstream, for more information visit www.onelazysunday.com.au
Meet Jennifer Ennion – @thewildonesmedia
Jennifer travelled with her husband Lachlan and son Theodore.
(and they have also just added a little girl to their family after their lap).
When: We travelled for 12 months from January 2018 to January 2019.
What: We had a Toyota Prado and towed a 12-foot Viscount Grand Tourer. We also had an OzTent for off-road adventures.
Sell up or rent out your home? We rented out our home while we travelled as we knew we wanted to return to the Central Coast (NSW), even if only in the short-term. Of course, there were challenges with dealing with tenants, but we’re happy we didn’t sell everything. It would’ve been too tempting to splurge on unnecessary activities.
Funding: We saved enough to travel for six months and any longer than that we knew we’d have to fund by working remotely. As a travel journalist, I always intended on working in areas I had wifi, and I ended up working way more than I expected, which helped fund a lot of side adventures such as day trips on the Great Barrier Reef. When I had a big commission, we would stop for a week or so and I would focus on working long hours, and then we’d take off again once the contract was complete.
Schooling: We didn’t school Teddy while we were on the road (as he was not of school age) but we did focus on teaching him through day to day play. Our priority was to educate him on ocean currents and rips, how to swim, and about Australian wildlife. When you travel Australia in a caravan, the outdoors is your classroom.
After your big lap: We returned to our home on the Central Coast because we love the area. However, that’s not to say we won’t take off again in the future. We’re nomadic at heart and always open to change.
How did your tribe settle back into ‘home life’ after your travels? We are determined not to fall back into the mundane habits that come with living in the ‘burbs, so we’re always plotting mini escapes throughout NSW. Being a travel journalist helps to keep the boredom at bay too, and I sometimes get to take the gang with me. We also live a fairly active lifestyle in general, spending a lot of time in the ocean, as well as hiking, so that helps us readjust to life at home. But weekend camping trips are always on the agenda.
The hardest part after you stopped? It’s hard to avoid being pulled back into a superficial existence when we’re surrounded by so many friends who prioritise spending, possessions and general wealth. One of the best things about being on the road is learning to live more simply and realising you don’t need much “stuff”, so sticking to that lifestyle is hard when you’re the only one (or one of a few) doing it.
Favourite thing about being back, and in a big house? Having a full-sized kitchen is probably the best thing about being back in a house as opposed to a tiny caravan. I love cooking so it’s nice to have all of my bakeware and a full-sized fridge as well and it’s much better to be in a house on rainy days than cooped up in a 12-foot ‘van.
What do you miss the most about life on the road? I think the biggest thing I miss is always being on an adventure of some sort. Whether we were exploring a new beach, hiking trail or simply getting to know a new town, there was always something exciting to discover. The camaraderie on the road is pretty special too; meeting like-minded people who understand why you’re drawn to a nomadic lifestyle.
Any plans to go again? I don’t have any desire, at this stage, to do the lap of Australia again but there are certainly places I’d like to return to for longer periods. It would be great to spend a few months solely focusing on the West Australian coastline, as well as Tropical North Queensland. But my heart is currently yearning for snow adventures, so I’m day dreaming a lot about how we can take a toddler and a baby to ski resorts overseas. That’s the next exciting challenge, for sure. I’m not sure a caravan will cut it in such cold temps though.
Any tips you would like to share? One of my biggest tips would have to be to find your own groove and live the nomadic life that’s right for you, and by that I mean don’t try to emulate what other families are doing and tick off the most Instagrammable places just because you feel you have to. Spend time in the places you love, fast-forward through those you don’t, and be true to yourself and your style of travel. After all, these are your memories you’re creating.
Meet The Galways Go Round – @galwaysgoround
Adam, Sharon, Ella, Ava and Noah.
When: We left our former home in Sydney and moved into our caravan in May 2017. We did a 6 month lap of Australia and then continued to travel up and down the east coast of Australia with Woolgoolga NSW (Mid-North Coast) as our base. We moved into a house in Woolgoolga in March 2019, wrapping up 22 months of full-time van life.
What: We have a Toyota Sahara which tows our 23ft Condor triple bunk caravan with full ensuite.
Sell up or rent? We sold our family home in Sydney as we had planned to relocate to the Mid-North Coast. A few months prior to leaving on our trip we purchased an investment property on the Coffs Coast which allowed us to keep our foot in the property market. That home is still rented today but one day, ‘when we grow up’ we plan to move into it.
Funds: We did a combination of a few things to fund our adventure including using up all paid leave from jobs that we planned not to return to. We used some of the money from the sale of our house and in 2018 Adam took up a job working remotely and Sharon started a mobile business.
School: We applied for a leave of absence through our kids’ school. This was a great option for our 6month lap as we were moving quite quickly leaving little time for distance education or home schooling. That said we took many opportunities during this time to continue to teach our kids on the road. Sharon is a teacher and recommends applying for a leave of absence for trips around 6-8months. Not recommended if your child has a learning difficulty. Beyond 6-8 months Sharon recommends considering some kind of formal education such as distance Ed or homeschooling.
After your big lap: Based on the travel that we had already done in the lead up to our trip, we knew that returning to our lives in Sydney wouldn’t satisfy us after the freedom of the open road. We had spent many years holidaying at Emerald Beach NSW and it was always going to be our annual summer holiday destination. That was until we decided that we could travel for longer, with the van that we wanted and also reduce our mortgage and start new careers if we relocated to that area after our lap. It was really a dream come true as we would say every year “we could live here”. We always seemed to find reasons why we couldn’t or shouldn’t but in the summer of 2017, for the first time, all we saw was green lights. A few weeks later our Sydney home was on the market. Relocating was the best decision for us and we have never looked back!
How did your tribe settle back into ‘home life’ after your travels? We made our return to normal life a gentle one over the course of a whole year. We remained living in the van but slowed our travels so we could put the kids into their new schools and so we could settle into our new community. For a year we had a foot in both camps – we were full-time caravaners with a base. Most people thought it was very odd but we wouldn’t change a thing. When the time came and we had decided that we had had enough of van life, it was as if someone flicked a switch and we just knew we were done. We considered moving into our home but the thought of living in a large 4 bedroom home with gardens to manage and a mortgage really didn’t appeal to us. We knew we weren’t ready for all of that. Instead we opted to rent a small townhouse with gardens and lawns taken care of and someone else paying our mortgage. For us it was a ’soft fall’ and has really helped us to settle back into home life.
The hardest part after you stopped? We haven’t found anything hard and we put that down to returning to life gently. If anything we wish we were home more than we are… our jobs keep us on the move a lot! We love nothing more than hanging out in our little beach side village!
Favourite thing about being back, and in a big house? For Sharon it’s definitely long hot showers! For Adam it’s having space and (ahem) parental privacy. You might expect us to say that what the kids love is to have their own rooms but surprisingly they all chose to be in the same room together! Obviously not an arrangement to last forever but we are glad that that’s what they chose as the little ones were quite frightened to sleep in another room to us when we moved into the house. Having big sister with them definitely saved them from bunking in with us!
What do you miss the most about life on the road? Being a full-time family was definitely the best part for us. Quality time without the usual life pressures that come with schooling, work, household chores etc.
Any plans to go again? Our sights are firmly set on taking our kids overseas to see the world. It’s the reason we called ourselves ‘Go Round’ all those years ago. The plan was always to see Australia and then the world. We will always have caravanning adventures – in fact we have been ‘caravanning with kids’ long before it was cool! Over 10 years and we’re not done yet.
Any tips you would like to share? Life after the lap is wonderful! The journey is not over and it’s not likely to be the last trip you ever take. Our biggest tip would be to keep visioning and manifesting the next exciting thing to happen in your life as you wrap up your lap or on your return. Always having something exciting to look forward to is what has kept our lives interesting. For us it’s not just about having great adventures but living our best life in all facets – health, family, wealth and travel. If you can make a lap happen, you can make anything happen so set your sights on some new and exciting goals and go for it!
The Galways have created an amazing online community for travelling families to connect search for ‘Caravans & Kids Travelling Aus In 2020’ on Facebook or visit www.galwaysgoround.com.au for more info.
Meet The Whole Way Around – @thewholewayaround
Mitchell, Jodie, Taye and Airlie.
When: We started February 2017 and travelled full time for 2.5 years, starting in Queensland.
What: Hilux Ute with a Canopy and an Oztent.
Sell up or rent? Rented our Home.
Funds: We spent 5 years planning and saving and Mitch took Long Service to kick us off.
Schooling: We schooled the kids via a Steiner Curriculum. But we just fit it in where we could and didn’t make it a chore. If the kids weren’t into it we explored instead. They have been in Steiner School now for 6 months and the transition went smoothly. Considering they had never been to school before. We hit the road before it was time for them to start school and they learnt a lot hands on as we went.
After your big lap: We returned to our original home town.
How did your tribe settle back into ‘home life’ after your travels? We live in a holiday destination so it was easy to just fully embrace all the great things this our home town has to offer. We made a point of not taking our beautiful home for granted and promised ourselves 2 holidays a year.
What was the hardest part for you when you stopped? Knowing that it was the end.
Favourite thing about being back, and in a big house? Our friends and community. That was pretty much the only thing we missed the most. We have a wonderful tribe at home and so glad to be back among them. AND having our own bathroom is such a treat! haha.
What do you miss the most about life on the road? Meeting new people and the time we had with each other. The greatest thing we got out of our trip was the connection we gain with each other.
Any plans to go again? Absolutely, but for now we are fully embracing our beautiful home.
Any tips you would like to share? Yes, communication is key. Traveling together for such a long time can take its toll. But if you learn to have crystal clear communication with each other, it will minimise those yucky times. The longer you spend with each other, the easier it is to gauge whether a person needs to talk or needs space. Respecting each others needs is key.
Jodie is a health coach and shares how you and your family can eat healthier on the road and at home. Visit www.thewholeway.com.au for more.
and last but not least –
Our insights – We Are The Blonde Nomads – @theblondenomads
Rob, Tracy, Marli and Ziggy.
When: October 2017 to October 2019
What: Ford Ranger with canopy and 22ft Jayco Starcraft.
Sell up or Rent: We sold our home in Sydney as we knew we didn’t want to return to Sydney after our travels.
Funds: We used some savings and worked as we travelled via our travel blog and social channels.
School: We held Marli back a year so we didn’t have to school her as we travelled for the first year on the road. For the 2nd year we did a combination of public school (putting her into a class for a term while still living in the caravan) and then home schooling her as we travelled.
After your big lap:Travel is our life, it is what we do. So this particular big lap is a part of our ongoing love affair with exploring and embracing new things, being Nomads. We have now completed 2 laps around Australia, one with our beautiful Blondie kids, and one, just the 2 of us ‘big kids’ in a camper van (before we started a family).. and we are sure there are more laps to come. After 2 years of living in our rolling home and exploring Aus we decided to purchase a house to use as a home base for our family between our travel adventures and we are loving having a little extra space and something to call ‘ours’.
How did your tribe settle back into ‘home life’ after your travels? It has been such a joy to watch the kids create new friendships and experience what it is like to be a part of a community. It’s the small things that we are appreciating that ‘home life’ provides, having a fenced yard, knowing the kids can play without the risk of crocs or ‘drop bears’ or passing cars. We have moved to a small coastal town with plenty of places to explore and enjoy so we are busy exploring and enjoying it in between our travel assignments and jobs. We make sure we get out to the beach for a swim, surf, snorkel or fish as much as possible to get that nature fix.
What was the hardest part for you when you stopped? We were a little sad of losing the sense of living simply. We love the idea of keeping life simple, collecting memories and not possessions. We are making a conscious effort not to slip back into ‘consuming things’ which is easy to do when you have a house and more storage space. We do get itchy feet so we are glad there are regular travel opportunities to keep our nomad hearts satisfied.
Favourite thing about being back, and in a big house?
At first it took us a little while to get used to so much space. To let the kids wander around and be ‘out of sight’ was a weird process for us after roaming for so long and keeping a close eye on them. The kids love having their own rooms and their own space and I (Trace), love all the glorious bench space in the kitchen. We have a pool and a great yard that backs onto bushland which has played a huge role in helping us climatise into ‘home life’ from camping and van life. To be able to retreat into nature a few steps out the back door has been essential to us.
We absolutely love being able to see our family and friends more regularly. The hardest part about travel is not being able to see the ones you love as much as you’d like. So we have also been busy having loads of catch ups and quality time.
What do you miss the most about life on the road? Keeping it simple. Less things, no ties. Freedom and meeting new like minded people. The opportunity to pull up to a waterfront campsite and catch a fish, listen to the water lapping as you sleep. The thrill of driving down a deserted beach track to discover your own pristine oasis with no one else in sight. The quality time together, watching the kids learn first hand about the land, learning valuable skills and putting them into play.
Any plans to go again? You bet… we have loads of plans to road trip and travel this great Aussie land.
Any tips you would like to share? If you are keen to take the leap and do a big lap but are not sure, start small. Go on a few smaller trips, hire a camper or caravan to dip your toe in. When you do travel make sure you enjoy the time you have together. Put your phone down, take a few snaps but you don’t have to share everything on social media, be present. Talk to the locals, slow down. Don’t just visit the famous landmarks or ‘insta’ famous places, take that side road, explore. Let everyone be involved, let the kids choose activities and be a part of the travel process. We have loads of helpful tips for prepping and planning for a big lap as well as camping and travelling with kids on our blog, check them out here.
Packing up your life and waving goodbye to all the things you know and love (and even those things you don’t love ) can be a scary thought. But taking that big leap is something that will no doubt provide you and your family with an adventure of a lifetime. For us, there’s nothing better than exploring uncharted territory in the throws of nature. But you can also stick to the tar, travel at your own pace and roll where you want to roll. Take in those sunsets and share that quality time.
Whether it’s a 12 month big lap, a short 3 month escape or weekend getaways there’s no doubt it’s worth giving it a crack! Use the resources on our website to help you plan. Reach out to families already travelling, ask questions on the Facebook groups and set a few goals…. we promise you won’t regret it.
If you have finished your big lap, we’d love you to share your experience of ‘Life After The Big Lap’ in the comments below, or if you have any questions share them below too so we can all reply to you … and, we look forward to seeing you out there, cruising this wonderful sunburnt land.
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