20 lessons learnt travelling Australia in a caravan for 6 months
Updated: Dec 18, 2019
6 months on the road, we've driven 18,700km, which is the equivalent of driving from Melbourne to Cairns and back three times. Yes, we have covered some ground exploring parts of the east coast of Australia, we've been to the very top of Australia and as I write this we're preparing for the journey back on the Spirit of Tasmania to Melbourne and we'll then head clockwise to complete our big lap of Australia.
We are travelling in a 22ft triple bunk Jayco Journey Outback which has become our home. Our van is comfortable, it has an onboard ensuite, with seperate shower, slide-out BBQ, outdoor shower (great for washing the dog) and washing machine (saves $4-$5 per load at caravan parks).
The things we brought into our van / car which get the most use:
Coffee machine, we love real coffee, saves our wallet and sanity.
Stainless Steel insulated wine tumblers - 2 in 1: coffee in the AM / wine in the PM.
iPhones - camera / books / entertainment / communication, couldn't live without it.
iPads - kids schooling apps / games / downtime.
Uniden handheld radios: gives our son independence in the caravan park whilst staying safe and contactable.
CB radio in car - can't express how important this is; if you're planning on travelling off the beaten track in areas with road trains / mining trucks, you need to communicate and hear what's happening ahead, you can also hear about upcoming road blocks / traffic jams and work with truckies so they can safely overtake. It's also good for entertainment purposes - we have heard many interesting stories and our children have learnt some colourful new words!
In the Jeep we added: a fridge and slide out drawer, clear view mirrors which are brilliant and a DVD player for the kids.
Our top 20 lessons:
Know ALL your weights! We should have never sent the body scales back home....big (pun intended) mistake. Since arriving in Tassie it's been cold and there have been layers worn and many hot chips consumed.
Things we began tracking from week 1, slowly over time we have questioned their worth and perhaps we've gotten lazy. At the beginning we were consistently logging expenses, caravan park stays, caravan park reviews on all the platforms, fuel usage and economy. Now we are well behind on updating...
Kids shows (on iPads) will run off the slowest data speed. Ensure your Data plan usage slows down to 1.5MB and doesn't cut out when you exceed your limit.
Kids don't need much! We have sent many boxes of toys and books home, that had not been touched.
I haven't had to replenish our baking suppliers, flour / sugar etc once. If you're not someone who bakes muffins or bread everyday at home, you certainly won't be suddenly doing it in the caravan. Just saying....
The online travelling community is fantastic. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising and reading honest reviews from different perspectives is the best way to plan your itinerary. Nothing is sugar-coated.
Nope the van isn't haunted, your neighbour can turn on your air conditioning with their remote.
When we got the van, we were worried about things moving and breaking in transit. We put rubber matting everywhere, in-between our Corell dishes (tough non breakable but I dropped one and it smashed), we used stubby coolers on all glass bottles, packed the fridge so carefully. But you know what, nothing much moves, well unless you are driving up to the Tip (Cape York), then no amount of careful packing will help!
12 Months isn't long: after having only 4 weeks annual leave for our entire working life, the thought of 12 months off can seem like an eternity, but time goes by quickly and you won't have time to do everything.
Homeschooling is tough. Enough said. That's a whole other blog topic.
Your days will be busy, I thought I'd have time to bake bread, read books, catch up on movies.
Jar lids can come undone on bumpy roads, know this before you start an argument with your partner about who didn't put the lid on the pickled onion jar.
There is no escape! From your kids, your husband.....
Send off the drone warranty immediately, don't delay or you will forget....we didn't and yep the drone crashed into the water at Malanda Falls. Wasn't able to be repaired, there goes $600 dollars.
You will master reversing: give it time, you'll be an expert after not too long.
You will need time out. Incorporate chill out rest days, travel and sightseeing takes it toll on us all and the kids love quiet days with no activities to watch a movie and play.
Be patient, it takes a few months for everyone to settle in and enjoy the travelling lifestyle.
You must be organised, things get messy very quickly, there is no junk room / clothes chair and you need to put things away straight away, you also need to be organised and book sites for busy times like school holidays.
Pet friendly caravan parks are often not pet friendly during school holidays. Plan out your school holidays early to avoid disappointment and frustration.
What one enjoys another may not, everyones experience is unique and you must take recommendations and reviews with a grain of salt and make up your own mind.