We’ve wanted to do this trip for aaages. I remember, before we were married, sitting at the beach in Cronulla talking about the things that we wanted to do in our lives. We were both so excited about the idea of one day, going on a big trip around Australia. We didn’t know if it would be in a big motorhome, on motorbikes with tents, or a beat-up old station wagon; and we didn’t much care. We just knew that the dream was to be able to curl up in a cozy bed with the sound of the waves crashing to lull us to sleep, and then to wake with the sun and the fresh air and be excited about the adventures we’d go on together.
As usual, life and a responsibility (and bills!) got in the way. We got married, we worked, we hung out with our friends, we moved back to New Zealand, we worked and paid off debt, we went through a couple of rounds of IVF, I (Michelle) played derby, we worked and we saved.
A brief interlude during that time was a three month trip to Thailand. But mostly, it was just living a normal life, trying to save while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world (we traded expensive Sydney, for expensive Auckland). But none of it was particularly exciting or fulfilling.
Back in January of this year (2017) I had started a blog called RV|Obsession. For years I’ve loved all things RV related (motorhomes, caravans, campervans, camper trailers), I love seeing them, how they’re designed, the layouts, the benefits of the different types. And most of all I love reading about the people who have decided to live full-time in them.
The blog was going quite well, growing in audience and engagement as I added more and more content. And the more I researched for the blog posts that I was writing, the more inspirational people I would find online.
These people, by and large, had realised that their lives were not fulfilling. There were things that they had always wanted in life, but for one reason or another, they had let those important things lapse as they worked and paid off the house, put the children through good schools and things like that.
But in the pursuit of living a ‘good’ life they had given up their desire to travel, or their desire to stay home with their children, or their desire to work with underprivileged people, or their desire to be out in nature every day.
When these people realised that they were unfulfilled in their lives they were willing and brave enough to give up the things that weren’t so important to them.
They gave up the big house and decided to live in a airstream, so that they didn’t have to pay the big mortgage and they could travel America with their young daughter. Less Junk, More Journey
Others gave up their well paying jobs and beautiful home to travel the world. Hecktic Travels
And yet others, took a 12 month interlude to their normal lives and travelled around Australia, crossing off many items on their bucket list, before house and marriage and children. Hutchy & Lauren’s Aus Camping Adventures
No matter what they have given up, they have gained so much more in return. More time, more freedom, more adventure, more peace, more fulfilment, more excitement, more clarity about the purpose of their lives.
And that’s what we want.
We want more.
So what do we have to give up?
Well, there’s not really too much that we’re giving up, per se.
We don’t have a big house, with a big mortgage. Hahaha! We don’t have a house at all! We rent a double garage that’s been converted into a one bedroom unit.
Not involved in any sport, church, community organisations.
No toys (boat, bikes or otherwise).
Heck, we don’t even have any pets! Unless you count the stray cat that Ben feeds at his work.
We’ve both got good jobs that pay okay. But neither of us is passionate (at all) about what we do; and even though I work with a great group of people, and I have an enjoyable job, it doesn’t light my fire, or make me feel like I’m contributing anything to the world.
We both feel like we’re not living, we’re just existing.
Without a doubt, the biggest thing I will be giving up is security. The security of knowing we have healthy pay checks coming in every month; the security of knowing that we have money in the bank that’s not earmarked for anything specific, the security of knowing exactly where I’m going to lay my head each night.
But I’m not sure how important any of the things above really are, when you feel like your life is not in your own control.
The decision to go
Easter 2017 – we decided to make the most of the Easter and ANZAC Day public holidays (and Ben’s 40th birthday) and rolled it all together for a 2.5 weeks holiday. We didn’t go anywhere, we just wanted to not have to go to work.
The plan was for me to work on RV|Obsession, and Ben to work on his online stuff. But not much of that happened at all… because we came up with the idea of throwing it all in and travelling around Australia.
We spent hours and hours (and hours) discussing how we could make it happen. Looking at our savings and current budget, figuring out how much we could save, how much we would need, how long it would take to save. Talking about what kind of vehicle we think we’ll need, will we go tent/ camper trailer/campervan, will we go off-road, what if we run out of money, what if we need to come back to NZ, what will we do with the few possessions that we do have here in NZ.
So. Many. Questions.
The wonderful thing about being on holiday was that we could answer those questions straight away. We could do all the research online, we could talk till we were blue in the face, we could juggle the budget (for the umpteenth time) and we could brainstorm ways to make more money before we leave, and while we’re on the road.
By the end of our 2.5 week holiday we had made some clear and brave (am I allowed to say brave? I’m still freaking out a little bit so I’m certainly feeling like it’s brave…) decisions. Here’s what we decided:
• Departure date: 1st August 2017 – eeek!!! That’s only three months away!
• Vehicle: Mid-size 4WD SUV (RAV4 or similar)
• Sleeping: Camper trailer
• Duration: 12 months – we will have enough money to travel for 6 months without working, but plan to make money online or via seasonal or temping jobs for a couple of months.
• Route: starting point will probably be Brisbane, but other than that… we haven’t figured anything out. :-/
We went round and round in circles on so many decisions (ahem… we still are, to be honest) as we would discover new factors that we hadn’t previously considered. But we do plan on writing about why we have chosen the above set-up. We won’t know if it’s the right decision until we’re on the road, but I’m sure you’ll all agree that the most important thing is to just get out there and start living!
Update May 2017 – plans have already changed!
What do we hope to gain?
Excitement about what the day holds. Renewed wonder at the beauty of our world. Time with each other. Appreciation for just how freakin lucky we are to be able to design our own lives. Freedom to live how we want, rather than how others think we should. I (Michelle) personally want to find my compassion again, my love for people and my desire to help others.
What’s in it for you?
Well, going through this whole process of researching and talking and researching some more, it did make us realise that while there’s lots of travel blogs out there, including some fantastic ones of people doing the big Aussie lap, there wasn’t one place that we could go for all the information we needed.
Not only did we struggle to find the answers to our questions, we didn’t even know the questions that we didn’t know!
We felt like there was a bit of a gap in what information/help/resources is available online, so we thought we’d share everything that we’re going through, all the planning, budgeting, decisions and research. BenAndMichelle.com aims to cover all these topics:
• Planning for the big trip around Aus – including money, vehicle, sleeping, bathrooming, all that practical stuff
• Paying for it all – saving up, budgeting, expenses you may not have thought about, seasonal or temping jobs, making money online
• Hopefully a bit of inspiration for others that aren’t happy with their lives and want to pursue something else more fulfilling
• Travel – of course we’ll be documenting our journey, probably mostly with video
• Starting your own blog – if we’ve done anything to inspire your own journey, then maybe you’ll want to start a blog of our own
So there we have it. That’s how we came to the decision to do this trip.
I’m glad that I like the planning stage of any exciting journey like this, because it makes the ‘waiting and saving’ a lot more bearable. Nonetheless, I can’t wait until my posts stop being in the ‘Trip Planning’ category and start being in the ‘Oh My Goodness Look At This’ and the ‘I’m So Freakin Excited I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’ categories. 🙂
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