Arrrrhhhhhhh… Wander to Wonder Oz have under a week to go til they leave on their big lap and I think we are just as excited as they are.  We asked Tegan to share with us all how she was feeling and she came up with the 5 ‘P’s guide to pissing off on our big lap – Well, that’s one way of putting it…LOVE IT!

The count down is on! It’s less than a week til we depart and it has been a whirlwind of excitement and seamlessly endless work. All those jobs we’ve been putting off to the last minute have now crept up upon us. Being a dedicated list lover, there was only one way to control this chaos; categorise tasks, detail individual jobs and tick those buggers off as soon as possible!

So here the five P’s of Wander to Wonder Oz’s guide to pissing off!

PLANNING

This one seems like an obvious place to start, after all an hour planning can save you 10 hours of doing. So out came the lists, heck we had so many lists even our lists had lists! Now this may seem counter productive to spend so much time writing down tasks rather than completing them, but with so many things running through your mind on what needs doing, buying, ideas and the like, that the lists helped remove some of the mental clutter and ensure things weren’t forgotten.

Quite early on we started planning our travel route based on the best available weather for our starting date. Coming from Melbourne in autumn, meant to chase the sun we should head north in an anti-clockwise direction. Once we had that figured out it was a case of pin pointing spots we knew we definitely wanted to visit (our bucketlist) and then filling in the space in between. We want to give the kids a genuine Aussie experience so we’re hoping to have a good balance of coastal and outback. Now 10mths may seem like a huge amount of time to travel, but Australia is so vast that you could easily spend that time in just one state! So we have some rough time frames in mind for when we should be hitting certain points just to keep us on track and ensure we don’t have to skip over spots later in the trip.

To work out our budget we simply looked at our current incoming vs outgoing. We wrote down all our non-negotiable expenses (mortgage, rates, insurance, bills etc) and then all our income (rent, salaries etc) to get a final figure of what we could afford. We have learnt from numerous travelling families that $1000 a week is a comfortable figure to live off, and based on our maths and some hard earned savings we think this will be achievable – stay tuned to see how we go!

Our eldest child Bodhi will be in Grade 1 while we travel so schooling of some sort is necessary. We want to keep the formal stuff to a minimum though and allow her to really enjoy the experience and learn through incidental learning.  We spoke to our school Principal who was very supportive and agreed that life experience would trump books in our case. We did make some enquiries with Distance Education but were put off by the workload required (approx 4hrs per day) and reliance on internet access for resources and Facetime requirements. Luckily my teacher sister recommended a Victorian business called The Sunshine Collective who make these Brilliant Boxes full of fun curriculum specific activities that get posted out to you throughout the year. So our schooling plan will consist of daily writing using the awesome journals from Caravanning with Kids and the Sunshine Collective boxes.

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PACKING

Pack the house, pack the car, pack the van….. The amount of stuff that kept appearing that had to be packed was mind-boggling. Although we are renting our house out 80% furnished, we were still overwhelmed by sheer volume of possessions we own that we don’t use and won’t miss. What a great opportunity to declutter!  Now anyone with kids knows that this is no easy feat. Firstly, 90% of the clutter is theirs and taking it from them is challenging! We did our fair share of sneaking items out of the house before we convinced them to get on board by teaching them that if items aren’t adding value to your life, allow them to add value to someone else’s. We donated anything we didn’t need to a charity that helps refugees set up home and then let the kids have a little toy sale to raise some money towards an activity that they’d like to do on the road. It turned out to be a pretty valuable lesson for the kids.

Now I’ve always been a chronic over packer, the sort that goes away for one night and packs six outfits, so its been up to Leigh to reign it in when things are getting out of control and remind me that we aren’t going to Antarctica and that there will be still be shops if we need anything. Consider your car and vans weight bearing capacities as every item adds up! We’ll be popping up a full list of what we packed soon so keep an eye out!

PREPPING

I thought all you had to do was buy the right 4×4 but it turns out there is still a heap you have to do to make it perfect (or perfect in the eyes of Leigh). So off went the car and all our salary to ARB for a 2” lift, long range fuel tank, roof racks, snorkel and bulbar. Then came a cargo barrier, UHF radio, light bar, driving lights, Waeco fridge and of course the eye watering expensive all tertian tyres. At least she looks good now!

We’re planning on doing a fair bit of free camping so it’s essential that we have enough power while off grid. We’ve run a second 120ah lithium battery from Pocket Power Australia which is really lightweight (saving us 20kg compared to a tradition AGM battery) plus it’s 5 times more efficient. To charge that battery we’re carrying a 250w flexi solar panel (also from Pocket Power Australia) that weighs just 7kg and can be split to two 125w panels for added flexibility.

Thankfully our Bailey Rangefinder Gemini already came with most optional extras fitted (solar, bike rack, DSC, exterior shower, gas fitting) so the only addition we made was to install a 12v Sirocco fan to each bed. These guys draw very little power and will easily run off the solar without draining the battery.

It’s crucial that you know your rigs weight limits and ensure you’re within those ranges. An overloaded van or car can equal a disaster on the road and that’s the last thing anyone wants. Four important caravan weights to understand are Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM – the most the vehicle can weigh when fully loaded), Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM – the most the caravan can weigh when fully loaded), Tow Bar Download (TBD – the amount of weight your caravan is exerting on your tow bar) and finally the Gross Combination Mass (GCM – the combined weight of your car and caravan). Once you know these, head to your nearest public weighbridge (check out www.publicweighbridge.com.au to find yours). It’s a really simple process of driving the rig on, unhitching the van on one part and your car on another and BAM – results to the nearest ten-kilo are all calculated for you. It takes about 10min and will set you back around $30, which is great value for safety and peace of mind.

PANICKED or PUMPED?

Ahhh the emotional rollercoaster of leaving behind all that is safe and familiar for the chance to fulfil a dream! While we have mostly been excited about the trip there have definitely been plenty of panicky moments of ‘Are we doing the right thing? Did we budget correctly? What if a croc eats our kids?’. The reality is also starting to hit home that we will miss some of the things we love most in our lives like our friends and families.  We will be missing babies being born, 1st birthdays, 21st, and Christmases and its ok to be sad about that. However, our overwhelming emotion has of course been pure excitement! We can’t believe its actually happening, did we really succeed in making this dream a reality?

PRESENT NOT PERFECT

Throughout this whole process we’ve kept reminding ourselves what we are trying to achieve, and that is to be truly present with our children and each other. For a while now, we’ve been on a treadmill that just seems to be getting faster and faster.  In our attempt to achieve the perfect house, the perfect job, the perfect upbringing for our children, we’ve lost our battle for balance. Now we recognise the need to simplify every part of our lives and truly enjoy parenthood. We are at that stage of life where the kids love you more than they are ever going to love you again, where cuddles are freely given, giggles are contagious, happiness can be found in the simplest of things and sadness can be solved by a hug and an ice-cream. Why wouldn’t you want to pause for that?

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