Our Big Lap is OVER! We have followed Our Big Lap from the very beginning and have loved all the stories and posts shared by Bec & Lloyd about their adventures. The highs…the lows…and all of their hilarious and emotional reflections. Their big lap is now OVER and Bec shares with us how she felt returning home… (you can check out their monthly additions in our OUR BIG LAPPERS section)
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE WHEN YOUR DREAM TRIP IS OVER?
I am sure you could ask this question of 100 different Big Lappers and get 100 different answers in return. Everyone who sets out of this sort of trip does so under different circumstances, has different things they want to achieve from their trip, and returns home to a set of circumstances unique to their personal situation.
For myself, I think it is a great question and it is one that I am still grappling with. There are lots of thoughts, feelings and emotions to process, and amidst all of the processing life has a wonderful way of going on!
For those of you who have read our blog post from last month you will remember that I was beginning to find peace with the idea of returning home. I knew the day was coming so I had been mentally preparing myself by focussing on all of the things I was looking forward to being able to do or enjoy once we arrived home. In the weeks after I wrote that blog post the mental preparations continued and I had reached a place where I felt totally at peace with the end of OUR BIG LAP, and I felt like going home was going to be quite a wonderful occasion.
Lloyd didn’t share the enthusiasm that I had roused up for myself, and in fact couldn’t have dreaded returning home more. In his words, he needed the six-odd months on the road that we had behind us to prepare him and get him to a place far enough removed from the usual daily routine, and where he was ready to set off and really enjoy the trip and the family time to the fullest. he had just found his new “groove” and it was all over.
I hadn’t really given any thought to what the last night of OBL would feel like, and after a lovely relaxing second last night spent by a campfire I thought I felt good about it, like I had it in the emotional bag so to speak.
In reality our last night in the van was pretty downright sombre! No special dinner to commemorate the occasion, it really felt like something we didn’t want to acknowledge. On the one hand we had our kids who were excited to be going home and looking forward to all that being home entailed, and then there was us, in various states of dread about returning home and not wanting to contemplate all that being home entailed.
A sombre night gave way to a sombre morning. As I guided Lloyd in the LandCruiser back to hitch up it really struck me. This was the last time we would be doing this (on this trip at least) – the morning hitch up ritual had become part of the fabric of our daily existence for the past six months.
All of a sudden I became so sentimental and all of a sudden as I started to tear up I understood clearly how Lloyd had been feeling. We had such high hopes for our trip; for it to be a circuit breaker in our lives, for us to have more family time, more time to connect, for us to become better versions of ourselves or at least understand who we could be outside of the stress and grind of everyday life. We had enjoyed such a great trip and were proud of what we had achieved, but there was also a sense of regret in some respects: could we have done better? Achieved more? Worked harder to make our relationships even stronger? Did we make the most of this golden opportunity in our lives??? Aside from that, the closer we got to home the more we realised and appreciated how simple our lives were in that moment. We really were living day to day. Our biggest decisions were where to next, or what to have for dinner. There were no alarms, no rigid routines. We could do as we pleased and that we came to realise was a pretty nice way to live life when compared to the alternative.
So there we were, leaving our last caravan park, the kids brimming with excitement in the back seat and Lloyd and I feeling misty-eyed in the front seat.
The drive home from the south coast was a very familiar one and so in a sense the holiday was already over. We could have just as easily been driving home from a weekend away. We drove in contemplative silence (save for the Moana soundtrack playing in the background) and as we got closer to home the sticky beak in us found it slightly entertaining to look around at what had changed and what had stayed the same. It turns out, much to our dismay, not much had changed (even the roadworks which seem to have been going on FOREVER remained unfinished!)…
As we pulled into our driveway and then made our way to our door I think we had so many emotions coursing through us that we just felt numb. There was the excitement from the kids as they peered through the door and saw the streamers and balloons left by their cousins to welcome them home, and for us there was an overwhelming sense of finality. OUR BIG LAP felt over before, but now here we were, back in our house and now OBL – this thing that had consumed our lives in the best possible way for more than two years – really was over…
We were struck by how HUGE our house felt as the kids ran off exploring in every direction. I didn’t realise how accustomed we had all become to living in close proximity until I heard the kids yelling out, “Mum! Where are you?” or likewise me going off hunting for the kids if I hadn’t heard or seen them for a while. Ava remembered every little detail about our house and life at home, little Finn remembered nothing – he had no idea where any rooms were, what doors lead to where… It struck me how long six months can be in the life of a two year old.
Lloyd and I spent the first day or two walking around like zombies. All our furniture and everything was where we left it, our fridge and pantry was stocked by my thoughtful brother and sister-in-law. We literally had to do nothing other than unlock the door and get on with life, and that felt awfully strange! We walked around having a million things to do (unpacking the car, the van etc) but not having the will to do anything in that moment. Trying to take it all in we realised that as we made our way around the house different smells were triggering all sorts of memories… we felt so different in a scene where everything was the same.
I think it was at this point I started to realise that the feelings of regret we previously had were largely unfounded. Coming back and reestablishing our lives in our home I realised how much we had all grown individually and as a family unit. As we walked around our house being reminded of how life felt before we went away, I began to fully understand and appreciate how far we had all come in what is a relatively short period of time, and the power of something like a caravan trip around Australia to be the catalyst and platform for that growth.
That first day at home was certainly the most emotional, full of strange and uneasy feelings, but with each day that has passed since arriving home those strange feelings and the uneasiness has become less pronounced and we have been able to get on with life post-OBL!
We decided to help ourselves settle back in my focussing on doing the things we had been most looking forward to about home – getting more chickens, planting out our veggie garden and of course catching up with family and friends. Focussing on these tasks has kept us occupied and helped us to bridge the gap between what is now our old life as a family living on the road and our new life which is hopefully going to be a refreshed and more balanced version of our life before our trip.
We have been grateful for our decision to arrive home when we did as it has given Lloyd just under two weeks at home before he is due to go back to work. It has been nice to be able to ease back into ‘real life’ slowly. There is no question that we all really need this time to adjust. We have had time to do jobs around the house, visit family and friends all together, share the household and family duties and best of all, by the time Lloyd will go back to work he will have been able to do a bunch of drop offs and pick ups for Ava at preschool, as well as a parent helper day and he will be there to cheer her on at an upcoming Walkathon… all precious memories for her, and things he might not have been able to do if he was back at work already.
Sadly the day will come when we have to set the alarm once more and we will have to wave Daddy off to work at some hideous hour of the morning but I’d like to think that with all the wonderful experiences behind us, and the promise of more adventures to come the daily grind will be just that much easier to bear.
It is so true when they say that all good things must come to an end, and OUR BIG LAP was really bloody good!
We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel around our amazing country for the past six months, and so appreciative of all the support and goodwill we have received from our family, friends and so many new friends from all corners of the internet! We have absolutely LOVED sharing our family holiday with you all.
One of the main reasons we started OUR BIG LAP was to share our travels and what we learned and gained along the way in the hope that it would inspire other families and travellers to take the leap; and to help make it easier to plan your own trip of a lifetime, just as we had been inspired by other travelling families before us.
OUR BIG LAP may have come to an end, but our mission to inspire others most certainly has not! We hope that you will continue to check in on us on Facebook and Instagram and our website www.ourbiglap.com.au as we make our way through a backlog of blog and photo updates (hooray for unlimited data again – one perk of being back at home!) and share lots of other tips and advice based on things we learnt from our trip. Whether you are dreaming about your big lap, planning your big lap, currently enjoying your big lap or just a weekend caravan warrior, I have no doubt we have something on the way that will interest you!
Safe and happy travels everyone! Until next time…