GUEST POST: Full time life on the road with kids
We’ve heard some interesting opinions in our time about travelling with kids. We’ve been told it can’t be done, that you can’t travel with a young baby, that you can’t travel full time with children, that you can’t travel with school aged children, that children need to live in a house… we’ve heard it all. And after 4 + years on the road I can assure you, none of it is true.
You absolutely can travel long term with kids, and we’re living proof. Not only that, but we’re just one of many, many families doing the same in New Zealand, Australia, and across the world.
Why did we hit the road?
First, let us tell you a bit about us. We’re an Aussie/Kiwi couple in our late 30’s with 2 kids, just turned 8 & 2. One of those kids was born in Australia, the other was born here in New Zealand. We first hit the road almost 6 years ago when our son was 2 and a half. Prior to making the decision to leave, life was really just fine. We were living in Melbourne, we owned our own home (along with the bank), we both had decent jobs. There was nothing objectively wrong with the way we were living. But it was all starting to feel a bit mundane. We were feeling like we weren’t really spending enough quality time together as a whānau, and we started to think that maybe there might be something more to life.
Like most young Aussies and Kiwis, we’d travelled a lot in our younger days before children (we met on a Contiki tour!), and we were keen to get back into that. But we didn’t really have a whole lot of spare cash lying around for a big world tour, so we decided to keep it local and hit the road to travel around Australia instead.
As a Carpenter and a Nurse, we figured we could work our way around to pay for it, and we set off without much more of a plan than that. We rented out our house, sold pretty much all our stuff, bought a hard floor camper trailer, kitted out our existing 4×4, and off we went with only roughly $10k left to see us on our way. And here we are, almost 6 years later, with an extra child in tow, having found ourselves still not quite ready to return!
Where have we been?
After 3 years zigzagging around Australia, having visited and/or worked in almost every corner of the country we crossed the ditch to NZ, bringing our 4×4 with us. We stopped and returned to ‘normal’ life for a bit; rented a house, worked, saved, and had our daughter, plus our son went to ‘real’ school. And while we were doing all that we bought a gorgeous old Kiwi classic caravan – a 1972 Oxford – and completely renovated her ready to hit the road full time again. And so, here we are on the road once more, now travelling beautiful Aotearoa.
We’ve been in New Zealand for almost 3 years, and still haven’t quite made it to the South Island – but we’ll be heading that way next year finally. We work when we need to top up the bank balance, our 8yo son does Distance Education schooling through the Te Kura Distance School (one of the many things our Wireless Nation’s portable WiFi is exceptionally useful for) and our 2yo daughter spends most of her time seeking out playgrounds, getting dirty, and generally bossing us all around. And just like in Australia we’re meeting plenty of other travelling families as we go, with children of all ages doing the same, and living this fantastic lifestyle too.
What do we love about it?
Honestly, this lifestyle really is a wonderful one, for both adults and kids alike, and we love almost every aspect of it. We love the long nights under the stars beside a campfire, we love gorgeous campsites right on the beach, we love exploring the history, culture, and geography of such stunning countries, and we love the freedom that comes from not being tied to a permanent job and all the ‘stuff’ that weighs many people down.
Our children have become super confident, they make friends exceptionally easily, they’re outside in nature more often than they’re inside, and best of all they get to spend plenty of quality time with each other, and with both of their parents. We love the equal sharing of parental responsibilities, having Dad get to spend just as much time with the kids as Mum, and the equality, respect and understanding it brings to our relationship and our family. And although the view out of the window changes regularly, our ‘house’, and the security that comes from a loving family within that house does not.
We’ve all learned so much about the world and our places in it from our travels – geography, history, science – so many lessons come naturally on the road.
What don’t we love so much?
But of course, this is still ‘real’ life, and it’s not always easy. Sometimes we could all do with a little less ‘quality’ time, and a bit more of a break from each other. Sometimes it rains, and rains, and rains (this is New Zealand after all) and we all get a little cabin fever. Sometimes luck does not shine on us, and things go wrong – over the years there have been accidents, breakdowns, and illnesses that can be tricky to navigate when you don’t have a home base to return to while things get sorted out.
And of course, while this lifestyle brings our immediate family closer together, it also takes us further away from our extended family and support systems – something we, like many others around the world, have felt particularly strongly over the last 2 years when we’ve been separated from close family and friends in Australia due to Covid restrictions. We strongly believe that it takes a village to raise a child and being away from that village can definitely be tough at times. But at the end of the day for us the positives absolutely outweigh the negatives, or we wouldn’t still be travelling this way after so many years.
When will we stop?
From here on out we don’t really have any definite plans. We have rough ideas of what the future might bring, but now more than ever before it’s so hard to plan and know exactly what might be around the corner, so we take each day as it comes. We’ve always said if we reach a point that we’re not enjoying it anymore then we’ll stop. But so far that day hasn’t come… and maybe it never will?
Nathan, Renee, Rosie and Ryan.
The Great Escape Australasia