Lessons from life on the road
Our kids were aged 3.5 years, 2 year and 6 months old when we left on our trip. For us, it was an ideal age as there are no school commitments and it's easy to teach them the basic stuff ourselves. They're easily entertained and at these ages, it's all play based in regards to learning. For Justin and I, being in our early 30's we think it's an ideal time to travel also, as the saying goes 'travel while you're young and able', and we couldn't agree more! We love being active with our kids and giving them the attention and love they need at this age. However, we have also learnt a lot about being on the road and have been hit with many challenges.
1. There is no daycare to drop the kids off to, it's all us, so it can be full on at times. We do miss these breaks, the daycare day was bliss and the prefect time to run errands without 3 kids in tow. We definitely make sure to schedule 'mum & dad time'!
2. Food - Keep the basics and shop as you go. Gone are the times you could a huge shop at Aldi and buy in bulk. There just isn't enough storage for that. We keep the basics stocked, such as meat, pasta and rice etc. and shop regularly for fresh produce, milk and bread.
3. Do whatever it takes to keep little ones on there daytime sleep routine. Our boys occasionally have a sleep, however our baby still takes a nap around lunch time everyday. She is so well acquainted to life on the road that she sleeps anywhere, the car, ergo, the beach and even on a see saw :) A well rested toddler is a happy little traveller when they are well slept.
4. Give the family a 'chill out' or rest day. We simply cannot head off exploring everyday and we love having those days to watch a movie or just hang out around the caravan.
5. When you first begin your travels, be really persistent with your new routine and rules, it will eventually work in your favour. For us, it was getting all three kids down by 7pm in the triple bunks, there was loads of chatter and late bedtimes, which made for tired grumpy rascals the next day! Once they are used to the new sleeping arrangements, it gives mum and dad more time to chill out at night time and enjoy dinner together.
6. Quick and easy entertaining toys are great to have on hand to diffuse arguments between our kidlets. Cheap $1 bubble wands are easy to store and entertaining for the kids in the middle of nowhere.
A Video of our Van below.
7. Storage is your best friend. Make sure when travelling, you are well equipped with this! We have plenty of good storage in our van and it makes like a whole lot easier. Also with our ute we have a good draw set up in the back which is great for all the extra stuff you need occasionally.
8. Cook big meals and freeze them. An easy option after a long day exploring. Pull your meal out of the freezer, pop in the microwave and the kids are fed in a few minutes! Pasta bakes are a great freezer meal .
9. Be patient while your family adjusts to van life. We promise, it does get easier and you will fall in love with the travelling lifestyle.
10. You'll save loads of time and money on having your own on-board washing machine! At $4-5 per load in the caravan parks, this becomes a real expense and takes up a chunk of your budget!
11. An outdoor camp pantry/shelving is essential. We store shoes, bathers, towels, sunscreen and sand toys among other things. Easily accessible and we just pop it in the doorway of the van while travelling.
12. An onboard toilet is a must when travelling and toilet training. Its so handy, who wants to walk a 4 year old over to the amenities at 3am. Not us!
13. Having a shower/bath recess in our caravan has been awesome!! The kids can have a bath while you prepare dinner/watch the news. It's a win win situation!
Hopefully some of these things we have learned can you help you plan and adjust to your new gypsy life on the road.
Justin and Bec