We are 'The Tea Towel Trip!' The Johnston family travelling this incredible country, collecting tea towels and memories as we go.
We are Sally (Mum, Bank Manager & organiser extraordinaire), Dave (Dad, Project Manager & The voice of reason), Alice (Big sister, pocket rocket & social butterfly) and Molly (Little sister, comedian & friend collector).
We are half way into our half lap in our Triton (Frank) & New Age Manta Ray (Henry).
Why not, this country is amazing. We both had long-service leave and wanted to do something epic with it. We felt like the girls were physically and emotionally ready to tackle it with us.
This was Sally's job. Itinerary was first. We set our time frame and each listed all our 'must-do's'. We then followed wonderful Facebook pages such as this one to research what others thought were highlights and then we filled in the gaps.
Secondly we set our budget. It is important at this point to understand your priorities. For example, we knew we wanted to do all the activities and experiences but could sacrifice eating out and takeaways.
Then we set our date, purchased Henry and Frank, sold all our furniture, rented out our house and hit the road Boxing Day.
Just one? Not getting caught up daily in the 9-5 so that we are able to really watch our children's personalities develop and strengthen before our eyes.
Being with each other 24 hours a day in a 19 foot home has certainly had its moments but we found very quickly making time for ourselves was a priority.
As a family our best experience has been trekking the Kings Canyon. Molly walked the whole way (with the promise of a helicopter flight if she did so) and was so incredibly proud of herself at the end and Alice bounded over the rocks like a sure footed mountain goat with a smile the whole way. As parents that was lovely to observe and of course the majestic scenery helped.
The most disappointing location to date was Port Pirie because we couldn't find a tea towel.
Alice will miss the first semester of grade two as we are away just over seven months. Her school granted her a leave of absence so we are not required to enrol in any other program.
She keeps a diary, reads books and works through a maths book. The rest will look after itself (we hope)!
How quickly we settled into life on the road. Within the first couple of weeks we had it down pat and were loving it.
Our 3 pieces of advice are:
1. Know yourself and what's important to you. Don't compromise on that.
2. Plan and be organised but allow enough flexibility for things to be able to change.
3. Ensure you balance your days. For us we get out early but are home by 2 when we can. This works for us.
We are much closer and our communication has really improved. We are much more appreciative of each other's personalities and quirks.
Just get out there and do it! We have met so many families on the road who have a different recipe for success. But the common denominator is that they stay true themselves. Plan a trip that fits your personality, budget and family dynamic. You won't regret it.
Follow more or our journey on our Facebook page - see you there!