The unspoken social pressures of travelling.
There are many types of travellers- Those with a thirst for education and information Those after the thrill of new experiences Those after a new way of life And those looking to make their mark
None of these are wrong, and hey you could be one or part all four of these. The biggest thing to remember is that its your adventure, your holiday, your direction…. It yours!
There is a lot of social pressure surrounding travel. Here are 7 of the most common pressures that could be detrimental to your experience when lapping Oz.
1. WE NEED TO LEAVE NOW
First, ultimately the decision to go- What’s your reason for wanting to head off on your lap of Oz? Sometimes its a feeling of pressure to go, you could have fear of missing out if you don’t, or you could have been planning your trip for years to reconnect as one. What ever your decision for leaving, make sure its what you want and it happens when your ready- timing is everything…. It will be crucial to the success of your trip. Despite what you think- if you leave a little later so it will be more convenient for the family, you are not going to miss the boat.
Take the time to research and find the perfect van/ camper to suit your needs and then plot out a rough itinerary of your trip plans.
We planned our trip over a 2 year period. After we committed to the decision to head off, we decided we would sell up… our home, the 2nd car, all the big boy’s toys and then basically everything from inside the house too. We sold/ donated and gave away 95% of all our possessions. By the time we left, we were so ready to leave, we left already having decided not to come home. And we have never looked back!
2. I MUST SEE AND DO EVERYTHING
How strong is your need to explore, see and do everything- whether you can really afford to or not. Travel should not be about visiting every attraction you see, every place you get recommended to go or the place that everyone else seems to be visiting and posting about. And it should definitely not lead to over extending yourself to go, see and do things you cant afford. There are a lot of expenses on the road so make sure you keep a good balance. You may be right into the education of travel or the thrill of a new experience and this is fabulous, there are so many opportunities out there and guess what so many of them are actually free. Best place to start is to define what your family are searching for from your adventures.
For us travel is about exploring. It is the landscapes, natural beauty, the heritage and history, and we just love days spent soaking up the views and landscapes- think of it this way “You can not unsee something, so make sure you fill your eyes with mesmerising beauty”. This is my personal quote to life and I could not imagine thinking any other way…. We will quite regularly take a quiet day or two off to enjoy the scenery and just ‘be here now’ with our kids.
We do not feel the pressure that just because everyone seems to be doing something…. we need to too, unless it is something that really appeals to us.
Don’t allow yourselves to get stressed out by trying to see absolutely everything…. You will find you enjoy things more if you give each of the chosen experiences more of your time and energy….. Less is often More!
3. I MUST VISIT AND STAY HERE
There can often be a pressure to visit and stay in the very best and most popular areas, or to follow the trends of locations/ states at particular times. Also there could be the pressure to always use a particular type of accommodation (van parks vs freedom camps). Following this way of travel, much like attractions, can too can become quite stressful, in the sense of time management, cost and sanity- especially the longer your on the road. It is ok to pick the untraveled path, skip a big tourist town for a little community just down the road, why not try a free or low cost community camp every so often and in reverse have an experience in a caravan park…
These are all great ways to balance out those mixed travel expenses, your personal experiences and the family’s sense of adventure.
We had no idea when we left Sydney that we would fall so completely in love with remote and Outback Australia- it was literally a change in compass direction the week before we left home. We always envisioned a coastal lap of Oz, just like we had seen the majority of travellers do. We had budgeted for all the big attractions and a big mix of camping styles. When in that final week we decided to go north instead of south, heading first to Tamworth and Narrabri via the inland roads. We realised what others wanted from their laps no longer defined ours… not even close. We stayed inland for the first 5 months or so and freedom camped our way through outback NSW and QLD, it really has changed the entire course of our 12 month lap which is now more like a 3 year Adventure.
4. MY KIDS NEED EVERYTHING THEY WANT
Truth is kids are marketing protégés….. Both kids and parents, whether living in a caravan for 6-12 months or long term, you need to be mindful space is at a premium and remember its likely that your trip is about getting out and exploring this incredible country of ours. You want your kids to appreciate the simple and small things in life, and develop an understanding that your small living space, is much like expensive real estate. You really only need what you ‘must have’, maybe with a few luxuries thrown in to keep the balance. Kids are simple- remove them from a well equipped home and place them in a quirky country town or a coastal palooza and they wont need all the gizmo and gadgets you see advertised constantly. By keeping things nice and simple, your kids will adapt and start to see the trip for more than what it is- its not a giant holiday on wheels, its a life changing opportunity to see and experience our land and the stories it has to tell. One of the biggest clutter bugs is those gorgeous location keepsakes (or in our kids case…. rocks). If you start of a tradition at the start of your trip- beware this may not stop, and the younger the child the bigger the keepsakes seem to be. It could be better if you plan to collect location momentos to keep to something small and relatively inexpensive. We let the boys pick postcards, you could also choose to do bumper stickers or regular stickers, rather than soft toys or bric a brack items (although on a very rare occasion one might sneak into our van).
We are truly minimalistic campers and I’m not saying that you have to be too, but its a good practice to demonstrate to the kids, that it is about enjoying the natural things in life as much as or even more than the material ones. But for us living full time as a family of 5 in an 18ft van– you need everything to be small and have dual purpose. The boys loved the postcard idea, they got to look at it and enjoy the picture for a week or so, then they were able to pick someone they thought would enjoy it too and write a lovely message before posting it off. Not only is it a lovely gesture to someone back home, it has been a great educational experience for the boys too.
5. I MUST FOLLOW AND USE BUDGETS
Budgets are personal, unique and very specific. I you are reading budgets from other travellers- make sure they are informative/ detailed but most importantly that the source is relative to you! There is no point basing your trips financial goals on a family of 4 with two young kids, travelling indefinitely who are towing a camper and prefer to free camp, if you are a family of 5, with a teen and 2 school aged kids, travelling for 12 months in a 26ft caravan who love a mix of inland and coastal travel and staying at van parks.
First you need to set a financial plan for your trip- taking into account how long you plan to travel, how many are in your family, what you will be doing with your home whilst you’re away, any income you will be receiving, any continuing home life expenses etc. It will often need to be based around what savings you have and how much you will need to have spare when you return home.
Create your base (and if you have no income source coming in over your trip) try to work to a strict budget, maybe not your entire trip but at least for the first 3-6 months whilst you find your groove and create spending routines. Remember the likelihood is you’ve never been on holiday for longer than a month without work or had to watch the pennies so they don’t run out before you finish your holiday… There is no unique template you can get to fit you perfectly but you can create one based around your first month or twos spending habits/needs or alter one from elsewhere to suit for your needs and trip specifics. Use other travelling budgets for guidance but remember to always compare only after looking at the specifics of theirs vs yours-
*Are they full-time travellers, 6-12 month Lappers or Itinerant workers? *Do they have kids…. how many, what are their ages? *Are they doing a full lap or segmented lap? *Do they freedom camp or do they love van parks? *Do they travel the coast or inland/ remote? *Do they collaborate/ work as they travel? *Do they include it all- groceries, petrol, permits/ passes, accomodation, eating out, attractions, insurances, phone bills, luxuries/ incidentals, washing/ amenities…… These are all things that will steal money from your total budget and not everyone includes them.
Have a budget, monitor it whilst you are learning habits and then once you know your rough routine don’t get too caught up in it- just make sure what you have left in the account matches how many months are left of your trip…. Some months will be bigger than others, so just balance them out.
6. I MUST START ROAD SCHOOLING FROM DAY 1 Schooling is inevitable if you’re a travelling family with school ages kids. Biggest thing to realise- school work cuts into travel time. You will need to allocate time for the kids to complete their assigned work no matter what course of schooling you choose. But don’t get caught in the trap and feel pressured that from the moment you leave you must enrol in Distance Education (DE) and that’s the only option. There are many considerations to make first.
Majority of primary schools have a correspondence opportunity. In NSW its 100days of what’s called ‘educational leave’ which once approved you are eligible to approximately 6 months of leave from school without any impact on your child’s attendance. Now, you can just leave and school by experiences/ journals and so on- or like us, so as not to miss out on too much of the important stuff, we arranged with the boys teachers to take some allocated work so on return they would still be on par with the key subjects like maths, english and comprehension.
If your trip is anticipated longer than the approved 6 months, I still suggest you start with correspondence and then once you’re definitely happy the trip is going well, move across to DE or Road/Home schooling. I say this from experience because once you start the latter of the options you are effectively returning to school but on the road and the work load can be larger, harder and more demanding. Take the correspondence holiday until you’re in the new travel routine and don’t let the kids get overwhelmed by starting a new form of schooling and new school routine at the same time as all the other life changes.
We went through hell and back after swapping schooling at only 4 months in and it wasn’t until 8 months when we regained control over our trip again due to these schooling complications, we shared our experience in a blog for Bushranger 4×4 Gear recently about this. If you are having schooling issues- we are always happy to chat about our experience and how we overcame them.
7. I MUST START BLOGGING AND SHARE EVERYTHING WE DO FROM DAY 1
Lastly is that taboo topic of travelling social media and branding, and the intense pressure this is going to bring- so be prepared.
Firstly before you leave you need to decide why are you leaving on this trip…. Is this a family experience/ holiday/ escape or is this going to be a business for you. Things you really need to consider…. How long are you going to be travelling for? How many kids are you going to be caring for on the trip? How old are they and will they be schooling? How much time are you willing to give/ sacrifice to build a brand?
Blogging and sharing your travels is time consuming, stressful and can often become overwhelming- especially if you throw kids in to the mix. Building a business from your travels is an incredibly rewarding and exciting opportunity but it should not be at the expense of your experience. You need to consider it like a business- you will need to put in the online and computer hours, invest the money and allocate a lot of the focus of your daily experiences and then your night time plans too. When do you get to switch off from your brand and take time to really just relax and be present? After over a year of Trekking Downunder I am yet to find a consistent happy medium, but I’m getting close.
Whilst we understand that not all travelling families feel these pressures (which is fabulous) the vast majority of the ones we speak to do. Advice from my experience is take the time at the beginning of your adventure to enjoy the ride, develop the new routines; daily travel, camp set ups, cooking routines, sleep routines, schooling, day trips- these are all bloody exhausting…..
Once you’rE in the groove and you have some travel experience, trip experiences and content to share- make the decision then if you want to work on your holiday or just continue to have fun sharing the pics with all your family and friends.
There are many positives but also there are many negatives to making your lap into business which I will address in a seperate blog, for now I am not telling you not to do it- just learn from my mistakes and don’t let it steal your experiences, especially the ones you have right at the start. If I could start from the day we left again, I would have still set up a fb page (maybe a group instead), maybe we would have still stickered the car, but I would not have started stressing about posting daily or ensuring I was sharing them all over the place, then I would have not been worried about all the ‘numbers’ and I definitely would have left blogging until at least 4 month in. After all but completely switching off when things really got too much for us, trying to get on top of the issues with schooling and finding that happy family/ travel balance) I eventually found my groove for writing again after about 3 months off and things were better than ever, Ryan and I even created and published the first issue of our incredibly successful digital magazine 2 months later.
The first 3 months of your trip are the hardest adjustment…. I still ask myself WHY….. Why did I add a business, plus learning the new skill of blog writing and publishing to a website with so many new things going on and a 14 month old baby! I missed so many opportunities in those months that I can never get back.
Your Trip is your trip and some only get one chance at it- So don’t let the social pressures that society weighs on us turn your once in a lifetime adventure into anything other than what you dream should to be.
Live your best life and ‘Happy Travels’.