Why Are We Doing This?

When we tell people that we are heading off around Australia, travelling with 3 kids aged 7 and under, with a camper trailer to live in which is probably smaller than the size of your average bedroom, for the next 6 or 7 months – many people think we are totally bonkers!!

I know that perhaps it does seem crazy to jam a family together in such a confined environment for over 6 months, and maybe financially irresponsible to put the mortgage on hold, a step backwards to sell many of the possessions we have spent so many years accumulating, and perhaps even detrimental to the kids schooling ……… the list goes on.

We are very lucky that our family and friends have been very supportive, positive and genuinely excited for us. However, we do still get a few – ‘you’re nuts!’ or ‘I’d rather chew my own arm off” comments and these make us think – eeeeeek – are we doing the right thing??? Are we crazy????

The answer for us is always YES, we are NUTS, but we feel 100% this trip is the best thing we can do with our lives right now and here’s why;

1. To Celebrate our Success
In my younger days I was a swimmer and at one point, our little country swimming club ended up with a very loud, diet-coke drinking, American swimming coach called Dave. I learnt a lot about working hard, goal setting and dreaming big during his time with us. Something else he tried to impress on us (big shout out to any Malanda Aquatic Dragons reading this!) was the importance of celebrating your success. He believed that if you won a race or swam a PB (personal best, for the non-swimmers out there) then you must celebrate – with a big fist pump or huge yell or even just a big grin & jump. Now – for a pretty shy, small town ‘aussie’ farm girl – this sort of behaviour didn’t come naturally. It seemed very ‘American’, very boastful and loud. It didn’t feel right and unfortunately I never went on to be an Olympic swimmer. However, I now believe that Dave was right. It is important and OK to ‘celebrate your sucess’. You’ve got to do something to make your self feel good, amazing even, after all the hard work …… otherwise, why on earth go back for more/to do it all again????

So, this trip for us is a big ‘fist pump’. It is a chance to celebrate the hard work Matt has done to get to the point of 10 years long service leave, to shout out ‘we survived!’ the sleep deprived baby years of raising three kids, to ‘jump & grin’ about the home we have managed to create and the life we have built that is pretty darn good so far! This trip is the reward and the motivation to start out on the next chapter of our lives – and it feels great!!

2. Time to ‘Smell the Roses’
We believe that sometimes it is important to stop, slow down, and ‘smell the roses’ a little. We feel like the last decade for us has passed mostly in a blur of shift work for Matt, buying and shfting houses, part-time work for me with a ‘hi/bye’ at 2pm as we swapped over work/house manager roles, sooooo many nappies and school pick ups and drop offs. We want to use this trip to spend time together as a family – cementing our bond, sealing in our family values, instilling a love of this beautiful land we live in and generally ‘loving’ each other!

3. Simplifying Life
Our current life has been too busy, we have accumulated too many ‘things’ and our kids have no idea that you can actually wash dishes without a dishwasher! We want to change all that on this trip. We want to make life simple and re-programme some better habits for our life. On the trip we will only have 4 sets of clothes each and the kids will only be bringing some Lego and colouring books with them. There will be no TV. Our aim will be to eat healthy, fresh, yummy, basic meals (coke and chocolate addiction be gone!), exercise every day, read lots, sleep lots, see lots, sing lots, draw lots, write lots, talk lots, laugh, and probably, fight and cry lots. Idealistic maybe, but it’s worth a shot!

4. Time out to Plan the next step in our Lives.
I’m an eldest child. I’m a Virgo. I am an accountant. And Matt & my sister’s will tell you – I’m a bit ok, a lot Bossy.

It is well known that I like to Plan, Set Goals and Make Lists – end of story. (yes, yes, family – I know it can be very annoying, but stuff gets done ok – so quit the ‘eye rolling’!!).

So – Matt and I have been married 10 years this year, it is time to set the new 10 year plan. We have been fortunate that the last one was pretty straightforward.

Establish careers – tick

Buy a house – tick

Travel lots – tick – just missed the living/working overseas thing due to the step below arriving a little ahead of schedule!

Have lots of kids – getting there – tick.

Be Happy/Live life to the full – mostly, tick.

This next 10 year plan though, is much harder ………..

We’re not sure where we now want to live and raise our family, we’re not sure our careers are really the ones we want, we want to do more with our lives, to make a mark on the world – something GOOD, useful, fulfilling and challenging that will carry us far into our futures, but we have no idea how or what that should be!

We’re hoping this trip will give us the time out to clear the mind and allow room for the mud map for the next 10 years to come to life ………….. we’re open to suggestions!?!?

5. Making the Most of Our Life
Pretty self explanatory – we want to live life to the full and to show our kids that they can do that too!! We want to get to the end of our life journey and know we filled it in to the brim with love, family, adventure, and that we gave everything we wanted to do, and even some that we didn’t, a ‘red hot go’. Travelling around Australia with our 3 young kids in a camper van is definitely one of those ‘must do’ things for us.

So, in the words of Mary Oliver ………….

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems

Categories: About Us, Camping, Planning | Tags: , , , , , , | 42 Comments

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42 thoughts on “Why Are We Doing This?

  1. Ngaree Cunningham

    Jess, I have to agree with everything you said. I think you will be surprised at what you learn. I went to Argentina with the explicit goal of improving my Spanish but that didn’t really happen. I came back with two other gifts. I had the most satisfying teaching experience of my life and learnt how unimportant “things” are. The Agentinians were more interested in developing personal and family relationships than having a cup without a chip or crack to give a visitor. They only had one plate per person and my blankets were pieces of material. I only had half a pillow. Did any of this detract from my experience and enjoyment – NOT ONE BIT! The attitude of sharing, caring and welcoming of the whole community was wonderful. I wish you and your family a fantastic experience to treasure forever and look forward to hearing how this trip influences your life.

    • Ngaree – thanks sooooo much for your comment! I would love to hear more about your Argentina trip – it sounds like a real experience!

  2. Beth Campbell

    Love this post!! Good on you and I hope that this trip is everything you want it to be and so much more!! We will be hanging for the updates….

    • Hehehehe Beth – I think you will be sick of the ‘Are We There Yet’ name appearing in your email inbox by the time the trip is over!

  3. Your planning,goal setting, and list making has never ever annoyed me,though argueing and crying alot never did any one any good so take that off your wish list and plan to laugh and sing more–

  4. Michelle U

    Jess and Matt, what an inspiring young couple you are! I would never dream of traveling around in a camper with the kids (like my luxuries a bit too much these days) but that doesn’t make it wrong for someone else to make a life changing trip! The Upins wish you and the kids an absolutely brilliant trip with more ups than downs, heaps of adventure and hundreds of laughs! Keep us all updated! Got our full support!

  5. Murray Morris

    Jess and Matt, I think this is great….so many of us just do one day at a time, sometimes there is a reason, but all too often it’s really just being in a rut.

    Life has cycles also, your words of wisdom are inspiring me to think more and more about our next 10 years and what it can bring us…..I can’t wait because I feel there is change and growth coming our way too. We will also be going out of our suburban comfort zone too and travelling this vast land on numerous long holidays. Hopefully we can connect with you guys this year.

    • Uncle Murray – I think we are just discovering that life has cycles! We will probably read back on this post in a few years time and think “how young and naive” we were! But, it is a good record for what we were thinking at the time for us and the kids to look back on. We will definitely be stopping in to visit on our way home from our trip and maybe we will even meet you somewhere on the road – that would be great! You might have to get a blog going too hehehehe!

  6. Frederick Morris

    May good fortune attend you on your oddysey.
    Grandad.

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  8. Can I please just borrow this to stick on the front of our blog?
    We too are about to embark on a road trip with our 3 kids around Australia, only with a vintage caravan.
    I’m very excited to have stumbled upon your family through your comment on Foxs Lane. I look forward to following your adventures. Sonia x

    • Hi Sonia! You’re welcome to use this post if you wouldn’t mind linking back to our blog. I love, love the Foxs Lane blog! Looking forward to hearing about your travels and maybe see you on the road somewhere!

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  10. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I keep stumbling across families equally as bonkers as ours.
    The Fealy family will hit the road one month before us with three kids aged seven and under. But with a camper trailer!
    I like their reasons for going on a family adventure. They’re very similar to our own.

  11. Thanks for the Reblog, Airstream Family!

  12. I think you are doing absolutely the RIGHT thing …. I am a 64 year old caravanner ( with my wife ) & we have more than once met a chatted with couples with young children travelling around in vans, the kids seem to be loving it & getting some outside intelligence to boot, they are healthy, free spirited and learning about life ….. I wish my parents had done something exciting like this with me when I was young …… I now take my grand kids & they love the van life as well ….. all I can say is, all the best & have lots of FUN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Congratulations!! We launched last August after selling pretty much everything. Our family of 5 lives full-time in our RV and we travel each season for a new job. There have been lots of smiles and laughs, new experiences and joys, as well as our fair share of tears and frustration. I would not trade this experience for the world and we intend to travel and explore the country until one of us stops loving it. I look forward to following your journey!!

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  15. Lee

    Great post- great blog. Can’t wait to follow your journey. I really couldn’t agree more with the celebrating success. I’m a single Mum and my son (7) and for the last 7 years I have been working and studying and feeling like I am missing my son grow up. We are planning to receive delivery of our very first ever carvan in 5 weeks time. From there- the world (or at least Australia for the immediate future) is our oyster!

  16. Welcome aboard Lee! How exciting that your caravan arrives in 5 weeks time!! Maybe we will be able to see you on the road somewhere!!!

  17. Josh here from the BlinkPacking blog. As you roll out, remember that the challenges you will face (and there WILL be several) are opportunities for your family to pull together and problem-solve. Sure, you will talk about the good times on the trip, but your greatest memories (and the greatest laughs) often come from the difficult moments when you don’t know what to do. So when those moments come, just embrace them and don’t wish them away. And give your children input and responsibility in those moments too — it will greatly encourage their maturity and development. Wishing you all the best as you roam far and wide. Cheers!

    • Kathryn

      Well said. Note to self “remember these wise words on my journey”.

  18. so awesome! saw your comment from ^ Josh’s blog. I’m seriously inspired by you guys! I always thought I need to get travel out of my system before I have kids.. but then I see you guys taking your kids everywhere. 🙂 You guys are my heroes!

  19. You’ll love it! We are almost two and a half years into our 3 year trip. My kids were 7 & 9 when we began. Best thing we ever did as a family.

  20. Hello, I log on to your new stuff regularly. Your story-telling style is witty, keep doing what
    you’re doing!

  21. Simone

    We take off at the end of July for a 3 month trip through NT & WA with our three kids, aged 9.7 & 4. Eager to follow your adventures. Would love to be going for longer than 3 months but this will hopefully only be the beginning of our travelling adventures. May see you on the road! This post on why you are doing it really connected with me (maybe because I am a list-loving Virgo too!).

  22. Love it! I think it’s absolutely brilliant that you’re doing this! When I was young, my parents pulled us out of school and we did a similar thing. Drove from Brissy to Perth and back during 3 months. Was brilliant and someting I will always remember. You’re doing a great thing.

  23. So excited for you and your family – we are 6 months in to our open ended trip with 3 kids in our caravan that we built ourselves and I still know that this is the best decision we have ever made. Enjoy the memories you will be making with your children everyday & I hope we see you out there somewhere.
    Jo
    http://www.goingaroundoz.com

    • Hi Jo! Nice to hear from you! Definitely love to see you on the road somewhere and will check out your blog when we can get some decent free wi-fi!

      • The only thing about travelling that we all hate…restricted internet access! I am just about to up my telstra wifi to the 15GB as we can chew through 8GB in no time at all.

      • Yeah initially we were chewing through the gigs like no tomorrow, but this was before I had a chance to stop and work out a better way. Not sure if you are Mac or windows people, but on our mac it is very easy to create a folder that when photos are dropped into it they are automatically resized down to a nominal size, say 1MB, we then use this folder to upload to the blog. The other solution has been to use the WordPress iOS app on the iPad, sync the photos to the iPad, and then in the WordPress app, there is a setting to automatically resize all uploaded photos to small/medium or large. Even at Large they are coming in mostly under 1 MB. This has made a world of difference!!

  24. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next post thanks once again.

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  26. Excellent blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?

    There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused .. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot!

  27. I just admire families that do their thing so much. x

  28. Hi Jess,
    Thanks for a great post. I’m finally eligible for long service leave next week, and have already started planning a 3 – 6 month venture around Australia with the family and a caravan. Just have to wait until the youngest is out of nappies!
    Cheers, Julie

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