Tips + Lessons Learnt 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 (when we left) 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 and lessons.
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 perfect time to run errands without 3 kids in tow. We definitely make sure to schedule ‘mum & dad time’ as well as solo time because that is important too!
2. Food – Keep the basics and shop as you go. Gone are the times you could do 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, fish, 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 would occasionally have a sleep, however when Charli was a baby she would 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 (baby carrier), the beach and even on a see saw 🙂 A well rested toddler is a happy little traveller!
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. It’s important as little ones cannot go go go and need time to just do their own thing.
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. Initially, there was loads of chatter and late bedtimes, which made for tired and grumpy gremlins 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, watch Netflix or work in our case.
6. Quick and easy entertaining toys are great to have on hand to diffuse arguments between our kids. Cheap $1 bubble wands are easy to store and entertaining for the kids in the middle of nowhere. Look at taking with you some Lego and craft so your children are occupied.
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 life a whole lot easier. With our Ute, we have a good set up in the back which is great for all the extra stuff you need when travelling the country. Storage ideas include, caddies, tubs, lots of sticky dots and heavy duty double sided tape.
8. Cook big meals and freeze them, it is 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! Plus, waiting in line for a machine sucks.
11. An outdoor camp pantry/shelving is handy. 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 and no-one wants to walk a 4 year old over to the amenities at 3am.
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!
14. Storing drink bottle holders in the bunk beds means you don’t have to get up through the night to get your child a drink of water. We bought cheap bike holder ones from Kmart for $8 each. Bargain and 2 screws which easily fix to the bed!
15. Sturdy hooks are your best mate. Hats, keys and bags! Generally we go for the quality removable hooks as they are easily removed and don’t damage your interior.
16. Investing in a decent handheld vacuum is essential. We have a Dyson one and use it multiple times a day. P.S you’ll get plenty of sand and red dust throughout your caravan.
17. When kitting out you beds with sheets and quilts, opt for darker colour such as grey. It hides the marks accumulated on your bed cover and the red dust from your (clean) feet. That stuff gets everywhere!
18. Rig up a permanent clothesline on your caravan. We run one across the length of our awning and it is very handy when doing small loads of washing or hanging up bathers.
19. You can get away without having an oven in your van, IF you have a BBQ with a lid – just use it as an oven. Trust me, it does the job and does a mean cake and roast. It also provides a lot of extra storage in your kitchen area.
20. Quality gear doesn’t come cheap but it is worth investing in good gear. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, you’ll be thankful you bought the decent stuff! Justin lives by this “poor man buys twice”.
21. Don’t put expectations on your trip, go with the flow and everything will work out. We have learnt from experience that if you plan too much you will miss out on a lot of fun opportunities and experiences.
22. The first month on the road will be hectic. Be prepared and be patient, everyone is adjusting including you. Rest assured after the first 4-6 weeks (in our case), life is good!
23. Get yourself an excellent mat for your door entry. We run a MukMat one and its a solution to keeping the dirt, sand and mud OUT OF your van! Keeping the mess outside.
24. You might not like this, but look into taking a device for your kids. It makes those long travel days much easier and can get your through another hour. Also, it makes for a peaceful drive and can be very handy when you want the kids to chill out when you don’t have tv reception. And, you’ll probs need it for schooling on the road.
25. Don’t opt for hanging space in your cupboards, whack some shelves in, you just won’t hang stuff.
26. If you love coffee, take a coffee machine. When you’re remote and there are no cafe’s available holy heck you’ll want that machine.
27. Pop a box/tub at the end of your kids’ beds. It keep all their personal stuff in one spot, neat and tidy. Eg. Favourite Lego, pictures, school awards.
Hopefully some of the things we have learned can you help you plan and adjust to your new nomadic life on the road.
Justin and Bec
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