We are the Russell's, zig-zagging our way around OZ. Hubby Ryan and I Cassie have 4 children in tow - Nicola 12, Jamie 10, Holly 7 & Violet 3. We didn't think twice before we decided to do it in a Trak Shak, soft floor camper trailer.We have had some amazing highs and plenty of lows. We even went to bed one night with the plan to turn back after 9 months.
We have now been on the road 12 months with many more adventures in the pipeline.
We were traveling home from 4 weeks in Fraser island and really didn't like to idea of going back to the daily grind. I turned to Ryan and made this crazy suggestion to travel for 12 months. He scoffed and said how!? It didn't take long before we had our own count down to leaving day.
We had the car which didn't need too much more work. But we needed the funds and a camper suitable for 6. I worked 2 jobs while Ryan made an amazing 'stay at home dad' and worked on the car in his spare time.
We purchased our new soon to be home and began spreading the word to family and friends. Who mostly thought we were mad and couldn't understand how we could just pack up and leave.
Our biggest joy has been seeing how resilient and adaptable our children have become. They take every day in their stride like it is no different from any other. The respect they show to other cultures during our journey from state to state has been incredible.
The biggest challenges we have had to overcome have been very expensive issues with our car. We blew the motor in the Strzelecki desert 3 weeks into our trip and had to be trucked home to our local caravan park.
Then, there were the tyres and the gear box amongst other things. But when I stress about money Ryan just says "They still make it, we just have to earn it".
We have by far enjoyed swimming with whale sharks in Exmouth and spending a week snorkeling and discovering a whole new underwater world. Our children had never really snorkeled before so that was another proud moment.
We haven't really been disappointed yet as such but sometimes our expectations are a lot higher than reality. Although often an experience for one family is quite different for another and can also depend on the wind, heat, flies and lack of good fishing spots (Ryan).
We have been homeschooling our 3 school aged children through tantrums, tears, wind and meltdowns. Most days they all just get on and do their work. But others they drag it out. They surprise me all the time with what they have learned.
We decided to go this way because we knew we would be remote a lot and find it a bit easier to go at our own pace.
The thing that surprised us the most was the fact we thought we could travel with a plan! Our plan first changed half an hour into our trip. We have had to become adaptable due to car issues, full camp sites, low kms for the day or more for the day, wanting to leave early or stay longer and the weather.
Our 3 pieces of advice are:
1. Be adaptable and learn to just go with it, its not always a bad thing.
2. Have a loose budget, some weeks we spend more than others.
3. Be okay with not being able to do everything and go everywhere. It just means you will have to do more trips or travel longer.
The changes I have seen in my family surprise me and make me laugh. My children including Violet (3) always ask even in caravan parks "Is this water drinkable?" They are water wise and careful with our power when on solar, always pick up theirs and others rubbish and have learned to marvel at our country. It really has showed us some amazing sights.
Follow more or our journey on our Facebook page - see you there!