With just over 3 weeks to go till you head off on your BIG LAP adventure, how are you feeling? Nervous, excited, a mix?

Our emotions are definitely mixed. Over the last few weeks as our departure date has loomed ever closer it has felt more and more surreal. There is a large part of us that simply cannot believe we are actually heading off with our caravan on a trip of a lifetime around Australia, and soon! We have been waiting so long and now the time has finally come. There has been a few weeks of feeling a bit overwhelmed as well. We are both busy with our day-to-day lives, and Lloyd has been particularly busy at work. On top of that we have been trying to fit in all the little jobs in preparation for OBL that a few months ago we might have put off until later, but we no longer have that luxury. We sat down and wrote up some to-do lists earlier last week and I think that has helped us to not feel so overwhelmed and to start to see real progress and a real end point in the build up to OBL. We were able to tick quite a few jobs off the list over the weekend and in doing so, somehow the trip is starting to feel less surreal and more real. There is still a bit to do, lots of little jobs mainly and of course getting the van all packed (after stripping it all out thanks to the recent ant invasion brought on by two weeks of non-stop rain) but with each day my feelings of nervousness and trepidation subside a little bit more and the excitement is really starting to build. With each day we feel more and more ready, so bring it on!

So much to go – we love that Bec is using her Caravanning with Kids pen!

What happens with your jobs? When do you finish up work?

Lloyd is in the fortunate position to be taking leave and long service leave while we are away on OBL. His organisation has been extremely positive and supportive of our plans since he first mentioned our desire to do this trip and the past 18 months have been, in part, spent laying the foundations for colleagues to manage his workload while he is away. During the past two weeks he has been handing over elements of his role to the various colleagues that will step in while he is away, so hopefully over the next 10 or so days he can really start to spend a little bit less time thinking about work, and a bit more time gearing himself up for the next seven months of our lives. Lloyd will commence his leave when he shuts his office door on Thursday 13 April (woohoo!) and we will head off four days later on Monday 17 April. As for myself, I ‘work’ at home looking after our two kids and trying to look after the household!!! In this sense I guess my work is not finishing up, but rather I see myself as going from full time work to a 7-month job share situation and that suits me just fine!

Flynn is hanging out at his Dad’s office…for the last time!

How much have you planned? Some families we have spoken to have planned out each week, others fly by the seat of their pants and let the road lead the way…

We are very much both planners by nature although when it comes to travelling I don’t mind things being a bit flexible. We have planned out a rough route incorporating some places we know we definitely must go to, some places that we think we want to go to, some places that seemed convenient and some places because we heard there is good fishing, crabbing… *insert any local seafood in this space*… As part of the planning we have put together a spreadsheet which is not so much a hard and fast plan for our trip, but more of an ‘if we go here and stay this many nights, then we will be home by this date’. Given Lloyd is due back at work at the start of November we need to make sure we pace ourselves in such a way that we get to enjoy all the places we want to go while at the same time leaving us enough time to get home! The spreadsheet will help us understand how we are tracking time-wise and will help us to know if we are in theory a few days ahead of schedule or a few days behind schedule so we know if we can stay longer in a particular place, or if we need to pick up the pace at some point along the way. At this stage we have made a few bookings at what we figured would be popular places at the time of year we will be travelling (Uluru, Alice Springs, Broome etc) and most of these are longer stays than one or two nights. We have also booked our first two nights away and a campsite on Fraser Island as we will be heading over with the Land Cruiser and our tent on our way up the coast. My guess is that we will do a mixture of winging it and booking ahead as we make our way around based on the feedback we are getting from other travellers and our own experiences on the road. Our van is set up for free camping so naturally we want to take advantage of this where we can, so it seems to make sense to us to not plan too many of our stops too far in advance at this stage.

The map has been on the go for a long time and will finally be turned into reality for the Pollard family…

Do Ava & Finn ‘get it’?

Ava who recently turned 4 absolutely gets it. She was about 2.5 when we first decided to do OBL and since then we have talked non-stop about going for a trip around Australia in our caravan and just how lucky we all are to have the opportunity to do so. One of the best things we did at the beginning of our planning was get a large, laminated map of Australia for our wall. It has been a place to mark great spots we would come across when watching shows and researching, served as great inspiration as we look at our planned route marked out and best of all, it has given Ava something really tangible to help visualise the adventure we embarking on. She can point out Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef and can follow our planned route telling us about all the places we are going to visit along the way. We made sure we involved her at every step of the planning (I am pretty sure her favourite part of the planning was caravan shopping!), she has had ownership of some decisions (hello Peppa Pig bedding on her caravan bunk!), and really, when I think about it, for as far back as she would be able to remember, the promise of OBL has always been part of her life. Recently her emotions towards the trip have been a bit mixed; she has gone from all out excitement to feeling a bit sad about leaving preschool, our home and our elderly dog. But she is also at an age where consecutive weeks of Lloyd working late most nights with meetings and the like takes its toll on her, so knowing that she will have Daddy all day, every day for seven months really resonates with her and has her looking forward to heading off on OBL. Finn who turned 2 in February is a little bit too young to understand what is around the corner for him on OBL. We talk to him about living in the caravan and he nods along in agreement as if he understands perfectly – very cute! Fortunately, Finn is a very easy going little fellow who loves to “ ‘elp Dadda” so despite the fact that he doesn’t really understand what is about to happen, I have no doubt that he will be in his element over the next 7 months.

We can’t wait to follow the adventures of Our Big Lap – Bec, Lloyd, Ava and Flynn… xx


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