Travelling Australia gets us all kinds of excited. When we were working full time, every single hour of annual leave was burnt camping and 4WDing our way around the country, and the night before a trip away I was always giddy with excitement, and struggled to fall asleep.
I looked forward to our Lap of Australia for years. Sarah and I talked about doing it well before kids came along, and we committed to leaving when they were old enough, and we’ve just made that happen with a 6 year old boy, and nearly 4 year old. There were a huge number of things that we looked forward to, but in this post I want to cover the benefits of doing a Lap of Australia that we have found already, after 5 months on the road.
This first point won’t apply to everyone, but if you work in a fast paced, stressful job, leaving it to travel might be one of the biggest, and most positive change that you’ll notice. Financial commitments aside, I’d call this change chalk and cheese in our scenario, and I don’t have any desire to go back to a high stress job. I can see clearly that going back into management is not something I’d consider again lightly, and this perspective comes only from stepping away from it all.
Being on call 24/7, having to make decisions that impact a big business and a number of staff, dealing with HR issues and everything else that goes along with a stressful job takes its toll, and I can hardly express the difference in life. I go to bed whenever I want, with zero thoughts about work. I don’t have to worry about politics at work, or how I’m going to deal with a particular challenge (or staff); life is simple, easy and for the most part fun.
Now, I want to make it very clear that travelling Australia is not stress free, and its certainly not sunshine and rainbows. Sarah and I still feel like we are pulling hair out at times (mostly kid related!), and we have different worries and stresses, but they are for the most part very limited and insignificant.
If something is bothering me, I step back and think about what else I’d be dealing with at home, and it all pales into insignificance. If my biggest concern on any day travelling is how many kilometres I have left on the current tank of fuel, its mild as and nothing compared to a typical day at home, and work.
Sarah also has less stress, as she used to be at home with both kids full time, and was regularly frazzled when I walked through the door after work. Now, she has me around to help out 24/7, and we both get frazzled together, but half as much!
Amazing family time
I always wanted to spend more time with the kids. Sarah has been a stay at home mum for the kids entire lives, and I’ve done my best to spend time with them, but its often when you are tired, and real quality time is hard to come by at home.
These days, I wake up when the kids stir, and they often jump into bed for a cuddle (or tickle wars) before we all get out, and have breakfast together. We decide what we want to do for the day, and we head off, as a family together.
So far, asides from dealing with the kids behaviour, this hasn’t had any downsides, and I’m so glad to be with the kids when they are young, full time for an extended period.
We knew travelling with them would be challenging, and fully accepted this was part of growing together as a family and so far, its working well.
A whole new appreciation for this amazing country
I’ve always had a deep love for Australia, and thoroughly enjoy sharing where we’ve been, tips and information, along with the best photographs that I can take. Western Australia is a magic state, and we’ve got so many good places to explore, but having the ability to see other parts of the country has been amazing beyond words.
The Flinders Ranges for example, took my breath away on so many occasions, and I left feeling so thankful for the amazing region. I’ve never been that interested in history, but travelling Australia has certainly changed that, and I’m so grateful to call this place home.
We loved our 4 months in South Australia, and then rolled into Victoria which has blown my socks off on so many occasions. The Grampians, Great Ocean Road and multitudes of free camps has been so appreciated, and being from WA everything is vastly different (and we love it!).
Meeting new people
You meet some amazing people on the road. Sure, there’s plenty of twats that you don’t want anything to do with, but you’ll stumble across people with more experience, stories and friendliness or kindness than you’ve ever experienced before.
We generally keep to ourselves, but its always nice to meet new people when travelling that are super special. We’ve bumped into a number of travelling families that we have a laugh with, along with elderly people who’ve got a wealth of knowledge, and everyone in between.
Being intentional about your decisions
I don’t know about you, but when I was at home, working long hours and being kept busy I found myself making so many decisions every day without really thinking about them. I believe your brain does this to conserve energy, but when we left to travel Australia, I made a commitment to be more intentional about my choices.
Every little decision you make is done with the ability to think clearer, with more time and no requirements to do anything in particular.
The ability to make healthier choices
We’ve always been fairly healthy at home, but I did find myself on many occasions not eating nearly enough fruit, or doing no exercise beyond walking around at work (which was usually several thousand steps a day).
On the road, we do far more exercise in the form of hikes and swimming, and we try to eat more fruit and vegetables.
Teaching your kids about life
Oliver is doing distance education, and Cooper has just started, but I’ve loved the discussions we’ve had with our kids already, about anything from types of birds to how water flows and everything in between.
When we left, Olivers’ teacher made the comment that when he returns he’ll have ‘life experience’, and went on to say that so many older kids understand theory, but have little life experience to back it up.
Perspective on life changes
Like most people, life was fairly busy and hectic at home. We’d often feel exhausted, and the weekends would be a taste of some freedom where we could recover a bit, before going back to the grind during the week (except I was still on call often!).
Sarah and I realised a long time ago that there are few materialistic items that really bring pleasure and fulfilment. New cars, fancy kitchen gadgets, brand name clothes, top of the line phones and so forth were never really high on our list of priorities, but its gone so much further than that now.
When you take a big break, its easy to see what is important, and what you are better off spending your time and money on, and its not flogging your body to death every week, and buying fancy stuff to fill your house up with.
So far, we’re loving life on the road, and I don’t see us going back to a 9 – 5 and home any time soon.
What other benefits did you notice when travelling long term around Australia?