We are the Dickson's, Chad, Mia (Dad and Mum) and our 4 children, Jed (11), Raf (6), Fox (2) and Lola (3 months). Some of you may know us as the Oz Family Roadtrippers. We are part time travellers finding time through our working year to get out and see Australia as much as possible in our Jayco Starcraft. The 'Big Picture' plan is to save as much as possible over the next 12-18 months so that we can take leave without pay and hit the road as much as possible.
We were brought up travelling in a similar way and wanted our kids to experience life outside of the classroom/computers/ipads/xbox/you get the idea. And... its important to us to spend as much time together as a family unit and get to know our kids as they grow and change.
Given our work life we can only manage 4 full weeks on the road in a year. This enables us to plan all year long for a yearly road trip. We also use as many weekends/long weekends as possible to test out areas close by and our TAWK setup.
One of the biggest things we have learned doing frequent trips is to have a caravan/camper pack, meaning have a set of towels, sheets, pillows, crockery, minimum toiletries, shelf life food etc that lives in the van. Then that way all you need to grab is clothes, hats and fresh food! It has been a huge help to us and we have found that we can make a decision midday Friday and be on the road by the afternoon.
The biggest joy is the family time together whether in the car ride, campsite or attraction. The kids trying new things, tasting new things, experiencing new things. Also being able to create family videos of our adventures together, we cant wait to re-watch them with the kids as they get older.
The hardest thing for us at the moment is balancing work and the desire to get out more often. We overcome this by exploring our local area as much as we can
The most enjoyed, we would have to say was Fraser Island, we were able to really explore the island easily and the kids had a ball swimming in Eli creek. Lake MacKenzie is magical and it is on our 'must swim' list!
Disappointed... That's hard, it would more relate to certain caravan parks, booking and checking in and realising that is just wasn't designed for 'little' kids (under 5's). They seem to be happy to charge for children and for facilities of the park but don't provide attractions that can be used by all.
We always apply for a special leave conditions through the school, which they have always been supportive of. We tend to video document all of our big trips so the kids help with filming and video editing and take the finished product in when we return home.
I'm not going to lie we do request learning material from the school but to this day the facts and experiences the kids learn whilst on the road far out weighs the few learning sheets we have been given so we don't tend to do them at all... only if they want to.
How much the kids take in! You can ask our 6 year old the things he remembers from watching the whales in Hervey Bay QLD or Facts he learnt about Churchill Island down in Victoria and he will give you so m,ugh knowledge, you have to try and stop him from talking.
Advice for future TAWKers would be...
It has reaffirmed our strong family unit, we have grown to understand each others strengths and weaknesses as a couple. It has helped given the bigger boys a platform of independence in regards to the planning and researching of trips or destinations. Its something that gives us joy and creates memories for us, and its something that we wish to continue long into the future for our family.
Traveling with newborns is not a scary thing! We have taken each of children on their first camping trips around the two week old mark. As long as mum and dad feel confident and comfortable get out there, take bub with you. Don't let it hold you back! The best piece of advise that i have come across is that 'a newborn fits in with you/your family, not the other way around'. Heck we moved from far south coast NSW just recently with a 10 day old to northern Queensland (Townsville) over 2500km, it took us 5 days and 110% of our sanity but WE DID IT!
Thanks for reading.