Hi I’m Amy and I have been travelling Australia for 18 months with my two children aged 6 & 10. We were living in Fremantle, Western Australia, a beautiful coastal city.
I set off with no real plans, barely any savings, and no time frame as to how long we would be gone for, just the desire to see the horizon stretching out in front of us and the longing for the freedom to chose the direction.
There was no real planning when it came it leaving. It seemed that events conspired to propel us in that direction.
Our ‘ tiny home on wheels’ is a 4WD single cab Landcruiser ute with a unique custom made fixed camper on the tray section. It has solar power, a large fridge, plenty of storage. It is a 2 berth however we have added an extra bed to give us all our own sleeping space. The major selling point being that is was 4WD.
The girls were amazed and ‘wowed’ when they saw it. Its not like anything a regular mum would drive.
For starters, we set out sights on the Tamworth Country Music Festival 6 weeks and nearly 4000 kms away! I thought if at least we made it there, and it turned out that it wasn’t working for the girls, I would be happy to head back. But life on the road suited us. I think we had all had such a topsy turvy few years in the city, that having the open road in front of us, and making team decisions about where we went and where we stayed, gave us a purpose and the freedom we hadn’t had for a long time.
We’ve swam on beaches of pristine white sand and clear turquoise waters, walked through the ancient Daintree rainforest, watched baby turtles emerge from their sandy nests after hatching and scurry to the waters edge, hiked to the top of waterfalls and swam in the water when we get to the bottom. We’ve been in the ocean with dolphins, camped in national parks and spotted wildlife in their natural habitat, helped on working farms and stations, splashed in puddles at the iconic Uluru as the rain fell to the dusty red earth. We’ve watched the sky present a show of pinks, oranges, red and purples as it showed off magnificent sunsets in isolated places with nothing to obstruct the view. Met people of many ages and backgrounds from dinner on a farm with young French backpackers, to sharing a meal of freshly caught fish with retired couples, we’ve spent time with farmers, widowers, bush kids, people with disabilities, other parents travelling with their children both from here and from other parts of the world.
The variety of people we have spent time with since we started this trip could not be compared with any other year in my children's life. All the good we have needed, we have found, all the kindness and generosity of the human spirit we have experienced.
When I got out of the space of living a life society tells you to live, I’ve found more acceptance of myself, situation and what brought me to this place in the first place that I was desperately seeking. I know that what we went through prior to travelling and the difficulties we faced and overcome were leading to bigger better things, I just had to trust the process.
We aren’t travelling in luxury staying in resorts, hotels, airbnbs or even caravan parks. We travel cheap and stick to a budget. Doing house-sitting along the way has allowed us to live in a town and get to know it while looking after pets and gardens of the owners while themselves take sometime away. Help-X has been another way we have saved money and gained experienced. The system works on the basis of the host providing accommodation and food in exchange for so many hours of work a day. The kids pitch in and they have jobs to do, such as feeding the animals, collecting the eggs etc. Help-X has given us experiences that we would not have otherwise been afforded. The kids have had to milk the cow before breakfast if they wanted milk on weetbix, picking the veggies for dinner from the garden, watching the sheep being shawn and helping sort out the wool, to hold newborn piglets only to be eating roast pork for dinner that night, absolute raw real life stuff. They have experienced life without a Coles or Woolies to duck out to and grab dinner.
A lot of our camping has been in free camps, cheap camps or national parks. In 18 months we haven’t yet racked up 3 weeks staying at a caravan park and the times we have been at one has been when a severe storm was coming, Cyclone Debbie. What I’m getting at is that travel doesn’t need to cost a fortune and there are many ways to travel cheaper. Its seeing it as a way of life, rather than a holiday.
What advice would you give to other Mamas planning on travelling with their tribe?
The advise I would give mums that want to get out there is do it! Go away on weekends and holidays. The more you do the more you figure out what does and doesn’t work for you, what you do and don’t need. If I hadn’t spent so many nights away when I had the caravan, Im not sure I would have packed and set off and throw caution to the wind as I did.
Where abouts are you right now?
I am in Western Australia to visit family. We’ve spent the sometime housesitting in Margaret River and we have just spent 2 weeks in Broome. A friend had rented an apartment there but was not yet using it so offered it to us to use in the meantime. What an opportunity! Free accommodation! Being open to opportunities and saying yes more often lead us to enjoying the sun on the famous Cable Beach while we wait for our new passports to arrive and then we are off to travel New Zealand.
What are the three most challenging aspects that stand out?
The three most challenging aspects of travelling are: financial worry - thinking about the budget for the fortnight and fuel, food and accommodation costs and meeting ongoing bill costs (eg car rego, insurance etc); doing absolutely everything on your own, not having another adult to make and share these memories with and having no back up to take the reins; in the beginning I would have said all the people that say ‘you can’t do that’, or ‘what are you thinking doing it without a male’ comments like that bothered me to begin with, however they now don't as it shows up their insecurities, or boundaries of their upbringing or how programmed by society they are. Which used to be me too. Looking at it from a different perspective I see it as a compliment. So now all I get is compliments! So either I’m only hearing what I want to hear, or because Ive changed Im attracting different people.
Do you have any financial tips for travelling?
Make your own meals, have a go to meal plan. My girls like food basic, which is great and easy. Clean simple meals don’t need to cost a bomb. Then when you do go out to eat it is significant and valued. Save for experiences. my girls are very aware of ‘experience not things’ and they don’t even want or ask for junk anymore, they want experiences.
Where can we find you?!
You can find us on Instagram @thosegirlswander