We have been on the road for four months now, leaving our home in the Blue Mountains in our Toyota Landcruiser towing our 21ft offroad caravan. However, we did not predict a global pandemic that has contributed to increased travellers on the road or budgeted for the increased cost of fuel and groceries due to the current world affairs.
Obstacles aside, we are enjoying our travels and visiting all the beautiful locations that Australia has to offer. We have enjoyed being on the road so much that we wish we had allowed more time to travel. With so many job vacancies advertised at various stunning locations, continuing to travel full time or home relocation can be easily visualised for us as a family.
After discussing our travel plans with friends during a camping trip two years ago, word spread quickly and our dream trip became an adventure shared.
Our Little Convoy
As the time for our departure approached more of our family and friends jumped on board wishing to travel alongside us - before you knew it, we had a convoy!
Another two families are consistently travelling with us - making us a convoy of three families. At any other given time we have another one or two families join us on our adventures. We all share the common interest of travelling and really enjoy each other's company which makes for some entertaining times.
Travelling with others can lighten the workload as we all share the responsibility of booking sights and finding new locations. Travelling really feels like a holiday, not a lifestyle when you’re with friends.
Travelling with others offers safety in numbers which seems like a great idea when travelling in remote locations but it’s not always easy finding locations that please all parties or destinations with availability. A large contributor to the availability challenges that we face are due to the state border closures and travel restrictions that were enforced during 2020-2021 in response to the global pandemic.
Now, two years worth of travellers are out on the road exploring which means there is less chance of a convoy of cars with caravans gaining access to those ‘bucket list’ sights you have always dreamed of visiting. Many popular sights in Western Australia, such as the Ningaloo Reef book up relatively fast and have a low cancellation rate, so unless you book well in advance you will miss out.
When travelling alone you can risk just turning up to most places, hoping for a vacancy but it’s much harder to do so in a convoy. Caravan parks cannot always guarantee sights near each other and with so many people travelling it can be hard finding locations that can accommodate everyone.
Dynamics between Children
Travelling with children and other families means children have to adapt to a new way of life as well as adjusting to being around other families and children full time. The relationship dynamics between children in the initial weeks can be exhausting. Stress can manifest in various ways and children can become emotional and irrational which can cause issues in behaviour.
It took about six weeks for my children to adjust to travelling with other children - currently travelling with seven children aged between one and nine. In the first five weeks there were daily arguments between the children and at least weekly physical altercations, which became emotionally exhausting to parents. At times we discussed separating because our children were too stimulated and emotional.
The children’s ages and personalities play a huge part in these dynamics. We have found that if the children have common interests such as games and toys it does make it easier for all. It has been essential to develop a consistent and good routine on the road, such as a regular bedtime as this has helped with their behaviour.
On occasions we have separated for a day or two which enables the children to have a break from each other. Having been on the road for over four months now, the children have learnt how to communicate with one another and support each other. They usually organise games between themselves and entertain each other without arguments.
Roads Less Travelled
Travelling in a convoy gives you more confidence to explore places you may think are too adventurous or dangerous to visit alone. You take more risks, such as travelling on beaches with soft sand or following unsealed 4WD tracks to see where they might lead to, empowered with the knowledge that if something goes wrong there is an extra set of recovery boards, a winch and extra hands to provide support if needed.
Embracing the Convoy
Convoys at times can be chaotic and booking locations can be more challenging but sharing the memories with close family and friends outweighs the stressful times. If you choose the right people to travel with you can end up learning new skills from each other along with sharing the load of organising your travel plans. Children also enjoy the company of others after some adjustment. I have found my children ask for technology far less with other friends around and it’s great to see them enjoying the bush and discovering treasures. These will be the memories that last a lifetime for all of us.